E. 42nd Street: Art Deco Giants
Although the Chanin Building appears to be standing directly behind the Chrysler Building here, it’s just the “compression” effect typical of shooting with a long telephoto lens. The two buildings are indeed cater-corner from each other at E. 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, but there’s plenty of space between them.
Chrysler’s architect William Van Alen added flamboyant ornamentation at various levels, including gleaming eagle gargoyles at the 60th floor and the signature stainless steel sunburst spire. Here, at the 30th floor, he placed large, stylized versions of a 1929 Chrysler radiator cap at each corner of the tower. More subtly, he used a mosaic pattern to add what look like late-20’s racing cars speeding around the building.
From this angle you can also see the top of the Chanin building, with its brick buttresses and piers forming the crown. This is a particularly good angle, as it hides the huge and quite ugly air-conditioning unit at the north end, a 1960’s addition that ruins the overall clean look of the crown.
Thankfully, no similar defacement has afflicted the Chrysler!