One writer referred to this Art Deco masterpiece as "a timeless work of Jazz Age poetry in steel." Constructed from 1928 to 1930, it was the first building to surpass 1,000 feet in height and was for several months the tallest building in the world. Though it lost that position to the Empire State Building, it remained the pinnacle of Art Deco achievement.
The spire is clad in stainless steel, that quintessential medium of the age, representative of a time of industrial optimism. It glistens gloriously in the sunlight, parabolic curves punctuated by triangular windows in a rhythmic verticality.
Steel eagles intentionally resembling car hood ornaments look out over the New York skyline from the 61st floor. Eagles -- what a particularly American gargoyle. And they do not simply rest on ledges, but jutt out far in flight over the city in a fierce but silent stillness.
Flying hubcaps celebrate the achievements of capitalism and industrialism.
Energy, Result, Workmanship and Transportation by Edward Turnbull -- an enormous mural inside the lobby, restored in 1999.
The elevator doors remind us that the Art Deco voice is one not only of capitalistic dynamism, but refined elegance as well. They are masterpieces of marquetry -- the medium of bonding thin sheets of wood together to create intricate textures and patterns.