Travel Guide

Chrysler Building in NYC landscape

The Chrysler Building

Step into the world of elegance with the Chrysler Building, an illustrious landmark that defines the New York skyline. Marvel at its stunning Art Deco architecture and the shimmering spire that lights up Manhattan.

The Chrysler Building in a nutshell…

The Chrysler Building is not open to the public. Visitors, however, can access the lobby, which showcases stunning Art Deco designs that are certainly worth capturing in a photograph.

While the building itself does not have an observation deck currently open to the public, the magnificent architecture of the Chrysler Building can be fully appreciated from other vantage points in the city, such as the observation decks of the Empire State Building or Summit One Vanderbilt. These decks offer spectacular views of the Chrysler Building amidst the Manhattan skyline.

Location and Accessibility: The Chrysler Building stands at 405 Lexington Avenue, near Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, making it easily accessible by subway (4, 5, 6, 7 lines), bus (M101, M15, M42, etc.), and the nearby sightseeing bus stops. The lobby is wheelchair accessible, ensuring all can enjoy the visit.

Visiting Hours: You can enter the lobby without a ticket from 8am to 6pm, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays. This provides a perfect glimpse into the building’s luxurious Art Deco interior.

Imagine standing in front of a towering silver spire, gleaming under the New York sun, beckoning you to gaze upon its Art Deco splendor. This is the Chrysler Building, a masterpiece of architecture that has graced the Manhattan skyline since 1930. Designed by William Van Alen, the building was originally the headquarters for the Chrysler Corporation, reflecting the grandeur and ambition of its era. Not just a functional office building, its design features motifs of cars and the innovations of the automotive industry, which Walter Chrysler so passionately pioneered.

The Chrysler Building’s striking facade is adorned with eagles and radiator caps reminiscent of the automobiles of the 1920s, while its famous spire remains a symbol of hope and achievement. Though no longer the world’s tallest building, having been surpassed by the Empire State Building just a year after its completion, it stands as a monument to the creativity and industry of its time. Today, the building’s magnificent lobby is open to the public, offering a glimpse into a bygone era of opulence and artistry.

Chrysler Building façade ornaments
Capturing the essence of speed and modernity, the Chrysler Building stands as a testament to the Art Deco era with its intricate geometric patterns and automobile-inspired motifs adorning its stunning facade.

As you walk through its doors, you’re stepping onto the set of various films and animations, like Spider-Man and Men in Black 3, which have highlighted the Chrysler Building’s iconic status. Its allure comes not only from its architectural beauty but also from its cultural significance, having been a muse to filmmakers and a beacon to tourists worldwide. Whether you’re a movie buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply in love with New York, the Chrysler Building invites you to experience its grandeur.

Brief History of the Chrysler Building

Upon its completion in 1930, the Chrysler Building soared to fame as the tallest building in the world, a title it held briefly until the Empire State Building took the crown in 1931. This 319-meter tall skyscraper was born out of the ambition of Walter Chrysler, who wanted a bold structure to serve as the headquarters for his automobile empire. It was not just a building but a statement of innovation and the American spirit, designed during a time when New York was rapidly transforming into a bustling metropolis.

Architect William Van Alen infused the building with ornamental cues from Chrysler’s cars, which included the hubcaps, hood ornaments, and even abstract representations of cars themselves on the 31st floor. The building’s facade features a mix of brickwork and steel, with a sunburst pattern at its crown, making it a jewel of Art Deco architecture. The lobby alone is worth visiting, with Moroccan marble walls, African wood inlays, and elaborate ceilings that speak to the opulence the Chrysler Building was built to embody.

Interior of the Chrysler Building
Dorff / CC BY-SA
The Chrysler Building lobby showcases the architectural grandeur of its time, featuring walls clad in Moroccan marble, detailed African wood inlays, and ornately decorated ceilings – elements that exemplify the building’s luxurious design heritage.

The Chrysler Building’s history is as rich as its design. It was an office space for Chrysler and various companies over the decades and was often featured in narratives about New York’s ambition and artistic flair. Today, it stands as a testament to the era of the machine age, inviting onlookers and visitors to marvel at its enduring beauty.

Practical Information

Before planning your visit to the Chrysler Building, let’s cover some essential details to make your experience seamless and enjoyable.

Location

Nestled at 405 Lexington Avenue, the Chrysler Building stands proudly between East 42nd and East 43rd Streets, near the heart of Manhattan. Its proximity to Grand Central Terminal ensures it is a prominent feature of the city’s skyline, easily accessible and unmissable majestic.

How to Get There

Exploring New York City is an adventure in itself, and reaching the Chrysler Building is a breeze with our handy guides on navigating the city’s transit system.

Whether you’re reading up on the best travel practices in our articles about New York City transportation or figuring out the best MetroCard for your needs, we’ve got you covered.

Subway

The quickest way to the Chrysler Building is via the subway.

Hop on the 4, 5, 6 (green line), or 7 (purple line) trains to Grand Central – 42 St station. From there, it’s a mere two-minute walk to the building’s grand entrance.

The area is well-connected, with the B, D, F, M, N, Q, R, and S (shuttle) trains also stopping at Times Square, a short walk away, ensuring you’re never far from one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks.

Bus

Several bus routes will drop you close to the Chrysler Building, including the M101, M15, M15-SBS, M2, M42, and M5.

The nearest stops are on 3rd Ave & 42nd St and E 42nd St & 3rd Ave, making the bus a convenient option if you’re touring the city’s landmarks.

Sightseeing Bus

For those who prefer to hop on and off at their leisure, nearly every New York City sightseeing bus route includes a stop near the Chrysler Building.

This is a fantastic way to see the building along with other nearby attractions without the hassle of public transportation.

View more sightseeing bus options

Driving

While driving in New York City isn’t recommended due to the dense traffic and limited parking, if you’re already in the city with a car, it’s best to park further away and use public transport to get to the Chrysler Building. This will save you time and spare you the stress of navigating busy streets.

Tickets

Visiting the Chrysler Building doesn’t require a ticket, as the lobby is open to the public. Here, you can admire the artistry of the Art Deco designs without the need for pre-purchased passes.

Opening Times

The lobby of the Chrysler Building welcomes visitors from 8am to 6pm, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

This accessibility makes it a convenient option for both early risers and afternoon explorers looking to soak in its historic charm.

What to See and Do at the Chrysler Building

While the upper floors of the Chrysler Building are not open to the public, the lobby offers enough spectacle to satisfy any visitor’s curiosity about this architectural gem.

Lobby

Upon entering the Chrysler Building, you’ll be enveloped in the ambiance of the 1920s and 30s, highlighted by the subdued lighting that accentuates the intricate Art Deco details.

The lobby is a showplace in its own right, featuring Moroccan marble and African woods, detailed with ornate metalwork and vibrant frescoes. The ceiling mural, titled “Transport and Human Endeavor,” captures the essence of the age of aviation and the machine age, offering a stunning visual feast for history buffs and art lovers alike.

Interior of the Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building’s lobby presents a harmonious blend of function and elegance, with its elevator banks framed by decorative metalwork, all set against the backdrop of polished marble and reflective terrazzo floors.

Visitors can explore four distinct elevator banks, each styled uniquely to reflect the opulence of the era. The lobby’s digital clocks offer a futuristic contrast, reminding visitors of the building’s continuous stride towards innovation.

Photo Opportunities

Though the Chrysler Building’s upper decks are off-limits, the lobby and its exteriors offer ample photo opportunities. While video recording in the lobby is not permitted, photography is welcomed.

You can also get creative with angles from nearby streets or buildings. For an even more dramatic effect, try shooting in black and white to transport your audience back to the Chrysler Building’s early days.

Observation Deck Plans

The Chrysler Building is set to enhance its visitor experience by introducing an observation deck on the 61st floor. Positioned just above the iconic silver eagles, the deck will offer panoramic views of Manhattan, providing a new vantage point from one of the city’s oldest skyscrapers.

This planned observation deck represents not only a nod to its past—with the original 1945 “Celestial” observatory—but also a stride into the future, promising guests an unforgettable look at the city.

Chrysler Building seen from the Empire State Building
Viewed from the Empire State’s observation deck, the Chrysler Building stands out amidst the New York City skyline, its iconic Art Deco spire a testament to the architectural innovation of its era.

The planned renovations include adapting the existing terraces with new glass barriers to ensure safety while maximizing the scenic views. This new attraction, coupled with the building’s historical allure, will undoubtedly become a must-visit for both first-time tourists and seasoned travelers.

Tips to Visit the Chrysler Building

Here are some practical tips to enhance your visit to the Chrysler Building:

  • Best Views: The iconic spire is best appreciated from 42nd Street near Grand Central, offering a striking view against the city backdrop. For a closer side view, the Summit One Vanderbilt provides an excellent perspective of the Chrysler Building.
  • Photography Tips: Opt for black and white photos to capture the vintage charm of the Chrysler Building. The contrast highlights the Art Deco elements beautifully, making for dramatic and timeless photographs.
  • Observation Decks: While the Chrysler Building’s own deck is not yet open, the nearby Empire State Building and Summit One Vanderbilt offer fantastic aerial views of the building and the city.
  • Respectful Visit: When visiting the lobby, be mindful of the operational business hours and maintain a low profile to ensure a pleasant experience for all guests.
  • Helicopter Tours: For the ultimate view, consider a helicopter tour over Manhattan. This offers a unique perspective not just of the Chrysler Building, but of the entire cityscape.

Accessibility Details

The Chrysler Building’s lobby is accessible to everyone, offering an opportunity for all visitors to enjoy its historic and artistic significance.

The entrances are equipped to accommodate guests with mobility challenges, ensuring a welcoming experience for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs provide you with the essential information to make the most of your visit to the Chrysler Building during your stay in New York City.

No, the spire is not accessible to the public, but you can admire it from the street level or nearby observation decks.

While there are no official guided tours, the lobby is open to the public where you can enjoy the Art Deco designs and learn about its history.

Yes, photography is allowed in the lobby, but video recording is prohibited.

Visiting during morning hours on a weekday allows you to avoid crowds and have a peaceful experience.

No, entry to the lobby is free of charge.

A visit can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your interest level and time spent taking photos.

Don’t miss the ceiling mural in the lobby and the detailed Art Deco elements throughout the building.

Yes, the building is beautifully lit at night and can be viewed from many parts of the city.

There are no public restaurants, but numerous dining options are available nearby.

The best way is by subway; take the 4, 5, 6, or 7 lines to Grand Central Station and walk from there.

Where to Stay Near the Chrysler Building

Choosing to stay near the Chrysler Building means you’re at the heart of New York City, surrounded by landmarks and easily accessible attractions.

Hotels in this area offer more than just a place to sleep; they provide a portal to the energy and excitement of the city. From luxurious accommodations with skyline views to cozy boutique hotels with unique charms, there’s something to satisfy every preference and budget.

Staying close to the Chrysler Building also puts you a short walk from Grand Central Terminal, making it incredibly easy to explore different parts of the city via subway. Moreover, the neighborhood's vibrant nightlife, world-class restaurants, and cultural experiences heighten the allure, making it a prime location for tourists and business travelers alike.

More Observation Decks in New York City

New York City's skyline is one of its biggest draws, and visiting observation decks is the best way to experience it.

The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and the new Summit One Vanderbilt offer different perspectives of the city’s vast expanse. Each deck provides a unique view and experience, from the historical significance of the Empire State Building to the modern, immersive installations at Summit One Vanderbilt.

Summit One Vanderbilt, particularly, offers an unparalleled view of the Chrysler Building, making it a highly recommended spot for photographers and sightseers alike. The blend of art, architecture, and technology at this deck makes it a must-visit for anyone looking to capture the essence of New York from above.

View more observation decks

Other Nearby Attractions

The Chrysler Building’s prime location in Midtown Manhattan makes it a perfect starting point for a day of exploration. Nearby attractions include:

Summit One Vanderbilt

Just a stone’s throw away, Summit One Vanderbilt offers a modern observation deck experience with immersive art installations and stunning city views. It’s a must-visit for an unparalleled perspective of the Chrysler Building and beyond.

View details

Empire State Building

No trip to New York would be complete without visiting the iconic Empire State Building. It’s a short walk from the Chrysler Building and offers historical exhibits alongside its famous 86th and 102nd-floor observatories.

View details

Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center

Offering perhaps the best view of the Chrysler Building aside from Summit One Vanderbilt, the Top of the Rock provides a panoramic view of Central Park and the northern skyline, making it a top choice for photographers.

View details

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

For art enthusiasts, MoMA presents a world-class collection of modern artworks, just a walk away from the Chrysler Building. It’s an essential visit for anyone interested in the evolution of art through the 20th century.

New York Public Library

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library is not just a place for books but a historic landmark that offers tours of its stunning architecture and art, a perfect cultural complement to the architectural tour of the Chrysler Building.

United Nations Headquarters

For those interested in international relations, a tour of the United Nations Headquarters provides a deep dive into the workings of the UN and its role in global diplomacy, all within walking distance from the Chrysler Building.

Fifth Avenue Shopping

For a taste of New York's luxury shopping scene, Fifth Avenue offers high-end boutiques and famous department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, all within proximity to the Chrysler Building.

Times Square

Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of Times Square, a vibrant spectacle of lights, media, and entertainment, and a quintessential New York experience.

View details

Rockefeller Center

Explore the shopping, dining, and entertainment options at Rockefeller Center, known for its seasonal activities including the famous Christmas tree and ice skating rink.

Other Recommended Experiences in New York City

View all tours & experiences

You Might Also Like...

Explore Our Comprehensive Travel Guide

On this page

  1. Introduction
  2. Brief History of the Chrysler Building
  3. Practical Information
  4. What to See and Do at the Chrysler Building
  5. Observation Deck Plans
  6. Tips to Visit the Chrysler Building
  7. Accessibility Details
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Where to Stay Near the Chrysler Building
  10. More Observation Decks in New York City
  11. Other Nearby Attractions