MMM is “on the road” today, traveling in the Big Apple. Is there any place better to marvel at metal and steel architecture than New York City? Ever since I was a little girl coming into the “grand metropolis,” I have always been amazed and in awe of how much is built on a relatively small land mass, a total contrast to the rural New Jersey lakeside community I was raised in. From the iconic buildings including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and Flatiron Building to the new and modern One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower and now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere), and The Oculus (World Trade Center Transport Hub), New York is truly a patchwork or steel, metal and concrete.
My favorite building has always been the Chrysler Building. This Art-Deco style skyscraper stands at 1,046 feet (318.9 m), once the world’s tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931. It is still the tallest brick building in the world with a steel framework. The signature element is the beautiful crown of the building, which features seven terraced arches radiating upwards, creating a shiny sunburst pattern, very typical of the Art Deco Movement. The crown of the building culminates with a 197 ft tall (60 meters) steel spire and is clad in stainless steel (nickel) developed by the German Krupp company.
William Van Alen was the original architect who designed the building until his design was sold to Walter P. Chrysler, who intended to make the building home of the Chrysler Corporation. It was in this spirit that the design was altered slightly to celebrate the aesthetic of Chrysler automobiles. For example, all four corners of the 31st floor are silver winged ornaments which were the design used on the radiator caps on Chrysler automobiles. The motifs surrounding the winged caps are images of the 1929 Chrysler Speedster, including chrome hubcaps. Replicas of eagle hoods ornaments from a 1920’s Chrysler Plymouth can be found jutting off of the building like gargoyles, 2 at each corner.
While official tours are no longer offered, both the lobby and the exterior of the building are worth a visit. You can view a beautiful mural on the ceiling of the lobby along with a clock and beautiful custom designed elevator doors.