The evolution of architect William Van Alen’s design culminated in the world-famous silhouette at right.
The Chrysler Building has been a distinctive presence of the Manhattan skyline for nearly a century.
In the 1930s, a Chrysler showroom occupied the tower’s first two stories.
French automaker André Citröen visiting fellow industrialist Walter P. Chrysler, at right, by one of the diamond-shaped windows in the tower’s crown.


The story of the Chrysler Building began in 1928, when automotive titan Walter P. Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Corporation, bought the property from Coney Island developer William H. Reynolds for $2 million. Chrysler hired architect William Van Alen, who had previously designed a skyscraper for Reynolds on the site, to create the world’s tallest tower. Construction on Chrysler’s project began in 1929 and was completed in 1930. Reaching a height of 1,048 feet, including its 125-foot steel spire, the Chrysler Building surpassed the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan in a “Race to the Sky” to claim the tallest building in the world–a title it held until 1931. The Chrysler Building still reigns as the world’s most famous skyscraper, playing prominent roles in film and television from Godzilla and Spider-Man to Sex and the City.