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Location: 405 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10017

Contact: 212.682.3070

The 77-floor beauty with its automobile-inspired Art Deco features and exotic crown is a fixture of the New York City skyline—and the building's stainless steal apex (seven stacked curves covered with triangular windows) makes the Chrysler Building one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. And the details aren't all in the top.

The polished chromium nickel of the building gleams even when it's cloudy; decorative gargoyles roost on the 59th floor, eagles on the 61st, and there are elements on the exterior of the building modeled after those that adorned the 1926 Chrysler. If you get close enough to the building, you can spot them, but the best view of the Chrysler Building is from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Though not as tall as the Empire State Building (1,453 feet), the Chrysler Building (1,046 feet) proves that bigger isn't always better when it comes to iconic style.

Ironically, however, it was the race to be bigger that gives the building its best story. At the time the Chrysler was being constructed, there was a fierce battle to erect the city's tallest building. Several architects were trying to outdo each other. When the Chrysler Building was completed in 1929, the Bank of Manhattan building was still taller by more than 60 feet. But as a dramatic denouement, a needle that had been secretly constructed inside the Chrysler's pointy cap was raised in a 90-minute period, surpassing even the Eiffel Tower, and making William Van Alen's jewel the world's tallest building at least until the Empire State came along.

The Lobby

Although the rest of the building is off-limits (unless you have an appointment on one of the 77 floors), you can visit the lobby Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Done in imported marble and granite with chrome elements that mimic the sparkling exterior, the space is a striking example of Art Deco style, right down to the mailboxes and subway signs. The elevators, created from a variety of rich woods, are stunning complements.