Art Deco

Art Deco Chrysler Building Photograph by Daniel Hagerman


Art Deco Chrysler Building Photograph by Daniel Hagerman

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The Chrysler Building is one of the most iconic landmarks of the Art Deco style in New York City, raising questions about its true relationship to the decorative art and architecture style. Is the Chrysler Building truly an example of Art Deco? This essay will examine the design and history of this prominent skyscraper to answer this question.
The Chrysler Building is an iconic structure that has come to define the skyline of New York City. Its unique design and intricate details have captivated tourists and locals alike since its construction in 1930. One of the most debated topics about this famous building is whether or not it can be classified as Art Deco architecture. In this article, we will explore this question by examining the history of Art Deco design and comparing it to the features of the Chrysler Building.

What is Art Deco Architecture?

Art Deco is a style of design that emerged after World War I, reaching its peak in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s. This style was characterized by its use of geometric shapes, bold colors, and lavish materials such as gold, platinum, and exotic woods. Art Deco buildings were often tall and sleek, with dramatic setbacks and decorative elements such as sculptures or relief carvings adorning their facades.

Another key feature of Art Deco design was its emphasis on technology and modernity. The buildings often incorporated new materials such as steel, glass, and concrete into their construction. This style was particularly popular in cities like New York City, where skyscrapers were in high demand due to limited space.

The Chrysler Building: An Art Deco Masterpiece?

When looking at the Chrysler Building’s facade, it’s easy to see why many people consider it a prime example of Art Deco architecture. The building’s design incorporates many classic features associated with this style – bold geometric shapes (such as the triangular windows), lavish materials (like the stainless-steel crown), dramatic setbacks (including several distinctive tiers at different heights), and ornate decorative elements (such as winged gargoyles).

The building’s interior also reflects many Art Deco motifs. The lobby boasts a striking mural by artist Edward Trumbull depicting Manhattan skyscrapers against a blue sky filled with gilded stars. The elevator doors feature intricate etchings of cars, boats, and trains, representing the theme of transportation that was central to Art Deco design.

However, some experts argue that the Chrysler Building’s design is not purely Art Deco. They note that while the building does incorporate many elements of this style, it also features other influences such as Gothic architecture (seen in the pointed arches near the top of the building) and even ancient Near Eastern motifs (represented by the eagle heads at the base of the crown).


While there is some debate over whether or not the Chrysler Building can be labeled as purely Art Deco architecture, it’s clear that this iconic structure embodies many of the key features associated with this style. Its bold geometric shapes, lavish materials, and emphasis on modern technology all reflect a commitment to progress and innovation – values that were central to Art Deco design. Whether or not one considers it a “true” example of Art Deco architecture, there’s no doubt that the Chrysler Building remains one of New York City’s most beloved landmarks and a testament to human creativity and ingenuity.

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