When I was growing up in New York City, the Empire State Building was touted as being the true embodiment of New York, its essence so to speak. Well, it’s hard to argue with that. After all, the Empire State Building was the tallest in the world at the time. And it was given the nickname for the proud State of New York, which was, and remains, “The Empire State.”
Well, argue I did, and still do. Being the tallest building doesn’t make it the best. After all, the World Trade Center, brought down by Arab terrorists, was never considered the epitome of New York. Tall they were; and big they were. But the twin towers were totally lacking in style and grace.
Now we come to the building that was, and remains for me, the best symbol of New York City. Of New York, the Metropolis. The Chrysler Building has style, grace, and a goodly enough height. In fact, this past week marked the 80th anniversary of its opening, at which time it became the tallest building in the world. Well, at least for 11 months, until the Empire State Building was opened.
The Chrysler Building is urban beauty executed in steel, glass, and stone. It has yet to be exceeded, except in the grossest of terms — height, floor space, and other utilitarian things that have nothing to do with beauty and symbolism.