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Movie buffs will remember the famous eagles, gargoyles and giant replica radiator caps of the Chrysler Building from the film Ghostbusters, but long before the film was made, visitors to New York used to look up and marvel at the beautiful art deco building’s architecture.
One of New York’s most instantly recognisable skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building is 1,047 feet / 315 meters tall and stands on the east side of Manhattan at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Once the headquarters for the Chrysler Corporation (1930 to mid 1950s), the building was erected at breakneck speed in the late 1920s, when work began in 1928 and was finally completed in 1930. Its famous spire is 38 meters / 125 ft. high and the Chrysler Building was once the tallest structure in New York, until the Empire State Building was built.
At night the building’s amazingly detailed crown is illuminated, one of the city’s most stunning views. The Chrysler Building has over the years featured in many films but nothing quite beats the real thing, when one comes out of Grand Central Station at 42 Street Subway exit and sees the building for the first time.
The building’s beautiful art deco lobby is open to the public and can be viewed for free from Mondays to Fridays between 07.00 am and 06.00 pm. Inside the lobby the walls are decorated with marble and granite panels, all trimmed with the 1920s favourite shiny metal – chrome – and on the enormous ceiling the artist Edward Trumball’s painted transportation scenes overlook the lobby. Its highly polished parquet flooring and imposing light sources make one feel this is not a lobby to an office block, but a ball room just waiting for the music to begin.
The artist Edward Trumball captured the spirit of the age perfectly in his paintings, showing a workforce that is industrious, resourceful and proud of their achievements. His “Transport and Human Endeavour” was originally painted as an oil painting on canvas and was actually cemented to the ceiling. When it was completed it was the largest mural in the world at that time.
Unlike the Ghostbusters comedy movie (1984), the Chrysler Building doesn’t have ghosts, ghouls or even a very much alive Bill Murray lurking anywhere in the vicinity. There are, however, numerous restaurants in the area, such as Mr K’s at 570 Lexington Avenue, a Chinese restaurant with New York flair or Riingo, a Japanese restaurant at 205 East 45th Street, just 324 meters from Chrysler Building.
Not all that far away, at 405 East 42nd Street, is the United Nations’ permanent mission headquarters. Founded in 1945 after the ravages of WWII, the United Nations building can be viewed from the inside by joining a guided tour, which includes a visit to the General Assembly and the Security Council. Visitors are allowed to take photographs.
From John F Kennedy Airport visitors could either hire a car or opt for public transport by AirTrain, which goes directly to Grand Central Station. The exact address is 405 Lexington Avenue at East 42nd Street and if travelling by subway from other parts of downtown New York, one should take train lines 4, 6 or 7 to get to 42nd/Grand Central Station. The AirTrain runs at 30 minute intervals from terminal 4 at John F Kennedy Airport.