The Chrysler Building: Creating a New York Icon Day by Day

Overview

The Chrysler Building is surely the jewel in the crown of New York City's skyline. Completed in 1930, the 77-story Art Deco skyscraper--the tallest in the world at the time it was finished--quickly became the symbol of big city glamour, excitement, and style. Its cloud-piercing spire and gleaming, steel-clad ornament depicting gargoyles, hubcaps, and the winged helmets of Mercury came to represent the thrill of the Machine Age at its most exuberant.

But, until now, this ...

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Overview

The Chrysler Building is surely the jewel in the crown of New York City's skyline. Completed in 1930, the 77-story Art Deco skyscraper--the tallest in the world at the time it was finished--quickly became the symbol of big city glamour, excitement, and style. Its cloud-piercing spire and gleaming, steel-clad ornament depicting gargoyles, hubcaps, and the winged helmets of Mercury came to represent the thrill of the Machine Age at its most exuberant.

But, until now, this magnificent building has also been one of the least documented and studied, a simple result of the fact that there were no known archives relating to its design or construction. This material was lost in the decades following its completion, or so everyone believed, until author David Stravitz discovered a box of negatives on the floor of a defunct stock photo company, just days before they were to be shipped off for silver reclamation. The never-before-seen photographs, reproduced as sumptuous duotones in this oversize book, illustrate the day-by-day construction of this American icon.

The photographs were taken by professional photo companies hired to document the construction of the building. In so doing, they also captured the day-to-day life taking place on the streets and in the environs of the Chrysler Building in exquisite detail.

This book beautifully illustrates the history of one of the most important buildings in New York as it emerged from street level to spire.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While buying some equipment from an elderly photographer, Stravitz, a designer and product developer who holds more than 100 patents and 400 copyrights, stumbled onto a collection of negatives taken by the commercial and industrial photographers Peyser & Patzig that chronicled the construction of the Chrysler Building, the art deco masterpiece on New York City's 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Introduced by New York Times "Streetscapes" columnist Christopher Grey, these 170 duotones-some lush and some grainy-begin with the lot's nondescript previous building, which was demolished by 1928, and continue through the massive girding of the uncompleted tower, swarmed over by teams of bricklayers and captured in long shots as it neared being "ready for occupancy in the Spring of 1930" (as one billboard reads)-a year or so ahead of the rival Empire State Building. Images of offices with stiff-looking bureaucrats and deluxe interior shots of marble, chrome and frescos top things off. The photos are catalogued in the back, leaving them uncluttered by extraneous text-it's all pure loft and shimmer from the golden age of skyscrapers. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
New York City's Chrysler Building, which was completed just after the 1929 stock market crash, remains one of the most spectacular and recognizable features of the city's skyline. Its shiny stainless steel spire made the building the tallest in the world for a short time and attracted both negative and admiring attention for its "frivolous" Art Deco design. Designer and photo aficionado Stravitz here presents a visual record of the building's construction, as documented by stock photographers of the day, in more than 100 black-and-white images. The 8 10 negatives of these photos were about to be scrapped for silver in 1979 when Stravitz bought and "rescued" them from a retired New Jersey photographer. The full-page plates, identified in the back of the book, are preceded by an introduction by New York Times architectural writer Christopher Gray (Changing New York), who briefly discusses the building's history. A more thorough text would have given the volume further value. Still, the book is packed with visual information about early 20th-century construction and the details of the daily life happening around it. For all New York City libraries and large public libraries.-Carolyn Kuebler, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568983547
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 691,244
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 12.37 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

David Stravitz is an entrepreneur and a photography aficionado. He lives in New York City.

Christopher Gray is an architectural historian and a preeminent authority on New York City whose writing appears frequently in the New York Times.

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Introduction

Gray, Christopher
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2002

    This kind of book makes publishers nervous...

    ...but it's my favorite kind - almost no words. Christopher Gray NYC

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