The Quick 10: The Chrysler Building

venemama/iStock via Getty Images
venemama/iStock via Getty Images

Apparently it’s Buildings of New York Appreciation Week here in the Quick 10. Joining the New York Public Library in having a birthday this week is the Chrysler Building, which will be celebrating its 81st year dominating the Manhattan skyline. It may not be the tallest building in town these days, but it’s still one of the most impressive. Read on to find out how long it actually held the title of New York’s Tallest Building and nine other fascinating facts about the Art Deco masterpiece.

1. Without the freak show-riddled Coney Island amusement park Dreamland (pictured), the Chrysler Building would never have existed. When Dreamland burned to the ground in 1911, owner William Reynolds decided he needed a new, high-profile project to work on. He decided to enter the “Tallest Building in the World” race and commissioned architect William Van Alen to draft something.

2. It’s called the Chrysler Building not after the business, really, but after the man, Walter Chrysler. Though Chrysler used it as the headquarters for his car company for more than 20 years, the company didn’t foot bill for the building - Walter did. He bought the property and the design for (we think) $2 million after Reynolds defaulted on the lease. Chrysler purchased it himself so his sons could inherit it.

3. Chrysler never actually paid William Van Alen. He believed Van Alen was working with building contractors on some shady financial arrangements and refused to be a part of it.

4. The 27-ton spire on top of the building took just 90 minutes to erect. And it was kind of sneaky affair.

You see, the Empire State Building was going up at the same time, backed by Chrysler rival John Raskob, founder of General Motors. Raskob, in a bit of not-so-friendly competition, wanted to make sure his building was taller than Chrysler’s, but Chrysler was keeping the height of his building a secret, making it hard for Empire State Building architects to plan. “Raskob was worried that Walter Chrysler would pull a trick - like hiding a rod in the spire and then sticking it up at the last minute,” said project manager Hamilton Weber. Well, Raskob sure knew his rival, because that’s exactly what Chrysler did.

5. As a result, the Chrysler Building held the title of New York’s Tallest Building... for less than a year. Once the Chrysler Building was done, Raskob’s architects did some figuring and decided they could make the building 85 stories tall, eight stories taller than the Chrysler Building. They did, of course, and the Chrysler Building was bumped to the second-tallest building in the city.

6. The building hasn’t always been in high demand. Shockingly, during the recession of the early ‘70s, only 17% of the building was occupied and the building was nearly foreclosed on.

7. There are a total of 3,862 windows that gaze out on New York.

8. The entire building required about 400,000 rivets and nearly four million bricks, all laid by hand.

9. There are many elements of the building meant to be a subtle nod to Chrysler’s automobile empire - hubcaps, fenders, and radiator caps. The famous eagle gargoyles are even reminiscent of an actual Chrysler hood ornament.

10. The 66th through 68th floors of the building were once occupied by the Cloud Club, an exclusive gentlemen’s club with members such as Conde Nast and boxer Gene Tunney. It closed in the 1970s when the building fell on hard times.

q10

Dreaming of Spending a Night in a Lighthouse? There’s a Website for That

Earth Trotter Photos/iStock via Getty Images
Earth Trotter Photos/iStock via Getty Images

Two hundred years ago, lighthouses to guide ships away from dangerous coastlines were a common sight. While lighthouses are rarely used for their original purpose today, many of the structures are still standing. If you're looking for an unusual way to celebrate National Lighthouse Day—today, August 6—consider booking a night in one of the dozens of decommissioned lighthouses across the globe that are now used for lodging.

BookaLighthouse.com is like Airbnb for lighthouses. To plan your seaside vacation, first choose the location you'd like to visit: the website's database features lighthouses on four continents including North America.

Once you've decided where you'd like to stay, Book a Lighthouse brings up all the available lighthouse options in the area. In Michigan, you and up to 13 guests can stay at a lighthouse-turned-bed-and-breakfast on the shore of Lake Superior. On the other side of the Atlantic, you'll find a lighthouse on its own island 15 minutes off the Swedish mainland. Rates range from as low as $38 to around $450 per night, and amenities like breakfast, sheets, and towels are often included.

The website is a great resource if you have your heart set on a nautical getaway, but it's not the only service that features lighthouse vacation homes. A quick search for "lighthouse" on Airbnb brings up listings around the world. And if you're looking for a more permanent situation, the U.S. government regularly sells old lighthouses to private citizens for low prices.

8 Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Join the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Mariano Mantel Follow, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Mariano Mantel Follow, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The UNESCO World Heritage Center recognizes sites of great cultural, historical, or scientific importance, from manmade cities like Venice to natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef. A group of new locations honored this month aren't nearly as old as some other sites on the list, but in just the past century or so, they've made a huge impact. During its 43rd annual session, the World Heritage Committee elected to add eight buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the American architect who pioneered the Prairie School movement in the 20th century.

The Frank Lloyd Wright structures joining the UNESCO list include Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona; Hollyhock House in Los Angeles; the Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago; Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City; Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania; the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin; and Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Each building was constructed between 1905 and 1938, and they represent just a handful of the more than 400 Wright works still standing today.

The group makes up a single World Heritage Site known as "The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright." Together, the buildings are the 24th World Heritage Site recognized in the U.S., accompanying such places as Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Everglades National Park in Florida, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. They're not the first example of modern architecture to be added to the list, though. The Sydney Opera House, the city of Brasilia, and the Bauhaus School in Germany are also World Heritage Sites.

According to organization's website, adding landmarks to the UNESCO World Heritage list "helps raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation," and that "greater awareness leads to a general rise in the level of the protection and conservation given to heritage properties." Countries that house heritage sites are also eligible for funding from UNESCO to preserve them. All of the sites included "The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright" are already protected as National Historic Landmarks, and many are open to visitors.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER