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15 historic American skyscrapers that aren't the Empire State Building

By: Matt Hickman on March 4, 2016, 12:53 p.m.
Chrysler Building

Photo: chezshai/flickr

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Chrysler Building, New York City

It's not the tallest, the oldest, the most historically significant or most visited (sorry, no observation deck), but the Chrysler Building is still a knockout.

Adored by architects and skyscraper aficionados alike, this shimmering Art Deco stunner may seem puny compared to its larger little sibling located eight blocks to southwest, the Empire State Building. In our opinion, it's an altogether sleeker and sexier affair that's grandiose — an automobile titan personally financed the construction of the $20 million building during the height of the Jazz Age, after all — but not aggressively so. For a brief while, between May 1930 and April 1931, the Chrysler Building — 1,046-feet-tall, antenna spire included — was both the tallest building and the tallest man-made structure in the entire world, overtaking the Eiffel Tower in that second category. And then the impossibly tall ESB came along.

Today, the William Van Alen-designed skyscraper is the fifth tallest building in the Big Apple (tied with Renzo Piano's New York Times Building) and the ninth tallest in the U.S. It's also the world's tallest steel-framed masonry structure — nearly 4 million bricks were laid during its (in)famously breakneck construction. From the sumptuous, marble-floored lobby to the dizzying spire, everyone has a favorite element of the Chrysler Building. Ours? It's a toss up-between the aquiline, hood ornament-inspired gargoyles jutting out from the corners of the 61st floor and the building's signature stainless steel-clad terraced crown that positively shines when the sun hits it.