: Chrysler building, the (9781568983547) : D Stravitz : Books
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Chrysler Building, The

by D Stravitz
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
  • Publishing date: 01/09/2002
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781568983547
  • ISBN: 1568983549


The Chrysler Building is surely the jewel in the crown of New York City's skyline. Completed in 1930, the 77-story Art Deco skyscraper--the tallest in the world at the time it was finished--quickly became the symbol of big city glamour, excitement, and style. Its cloud-piercing spire and gleaming, steel-clad ornament depicting gargoyles, hubcaps, and the winged helmets of Mercury came to represent the thrill of the Machine Age at its most exuberant.

But, until now, this magnificent building has also been one of the least documented and studied, a simple result of the fact that there were no known archives relating to its design or construction. This material was lost in the decades following its completion, or so everyone believed, until author David Stravitz discovered a box of negatives on the floor of a defunct stock photo company, just days before they were to be shipped off for silver reclamation. The never-before-seen photographs, reproduced as sumptuous duotones in this oversize book, illustrate the day-by-day construction of this American icon.

The photographs were taken by professional photo companies hired to document the construction of the building. In so doing, they also captured the day-to-day life taking place on the streets and in the environs of the Chrysler Building in exquisite detail.

This book beautifully illustrates the history of one of the most important buildings in New York as it emerged from street level to spire.

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  • Cloud Club is a big part Missing
    From Amazon

    The book is a tribute to buildings that were works of art. The only thing missing is the crown jewel of the Chrysler building, The Cloud Club. A private mens club that hosted the elite of business society DK Ludwig at the time the richest man in the world, Charles Lindburgh (who would never sign anything even a check), Juan Tripp and Sam Pryor with Pan American Airways, Gene Tunney and so many more and the stories that could be told. Private dining rooms that were designed by major corporations like Pittsburgh Steel with Art Deco work that was unmatched. The Cloud Club is a book itself , the parties were legendary, the membership unrivaled. Many talk of the Sky Club taking its place but few knew the Sky Club was designed and planned in the private dining rooms of the Cloud Club, Walter Payson purchased the New York Mets for his wife (as he said at the time he needed to find her a hobby so she would let him work so he brought her the Mets), Bill Shea the attorney did all the design work for Shea Stadium in the private dining rooms of the club. Every major corporation in America had a membership for their executives, I have allot of memorabilia and stories from those days as I was there its just too bad more attention is not paid to a treasure of American Business history.

  • THE New York Skyscraper
    From Amazon

    This is a wonderful book with amazing vintage black and white period photos. The book mostly focuses on the building of the skyscraper in the 30's and my only qualm with the book is the lack of current photos of the building, but that is a minor critisism and should not reflect on the overall excellent quality of the book. The Chrysler Building is a pinnacle of Art Deco style and I love it. The history of the building is so interesting and story of the spire is such a quenticential New York moment. I recomend this book to anyone who loves the romance of the skyscraper and this one is magical.

  • A Loving Restoration
    From Amazon

    This book is very expensive, but very worth it. As described, the author discovered, almost by accident, a real treasure trove of exquisitely high quality photographs taken to document the building's completion to architectural specification. Rounding out a wonderfully detailed description of the economic and entrepreneurial forces behind its construction, these beautiful pictures bring the reader back into not just a major building project but a whole era. See the clothes, the cars - everything that made this a pinnacle of American exuberance and optimism. While the text is good, you might want to look at two other better examples of stories of the buildings that symbolized this era: John Tauranac's book on the Empire State building and "Great Fortune," Daniel Okrent's rendering of "The Epic of Rockefeller Center." They were hard times, to be sure, but often remembered with special fondness for those things which symbolized what we aspired.

  • Fascinating--but who is the author?
    From Amazon

    The photos are undeniably great. All that is missing is the Cloud Club. But I'm still trying to figure out who David Stravitz is. Certainly not the author. Not one of the photographs is his. By his own admission he stumbled across this work. The firm actually responsible, Peyser & Patzig does merit a few mentions but not on the cover or the title page. Of course none of this detracts from the photos but as a photographer himself, Mr. Stravitz might be a little sensitive about taking credit for the work of others. Even Christopher Gray, who contributes a lot more than Mr. Stravitz gets low billing.

  • The glory of Van Alen's frivolity
    From Amazon

    Author David Stravitz wisely bought over five hundred, soon to be destroyed, negatives in 1979. They pictured New York in the 1920s and 30s and in particular one hundred and fifty showed the day by day construction of the Chrysler Building. Over a hundred of them are reproduced in this stunning book. Taken by commercial photographers Peyser & Patzig, most likely as a record for the contractor Fred Ley, they show the building as a hole in the ground on November nine 1929 to the completion of the annex in January nine 1931.

    There is something about pre-war photos, perhaps the chemicals used on glass plates or the type of paper used for the black and white prints but whatever, old photos seem to have a richness of texture that enhances their appearance and you certainly notice this in these pictures. As well as their quality (don't forget this was straightforward commercial photo assignment) there is plenty to see of the building construction, what is going on in the surrounding streets and several panoramas of mid-town Manhattan taken from the Chrysler Building, including a dramatic four-page gatefold.

    This is the sort of detail you'll see, pages eight and nine show the empty building site (taken on November nine) and traffic on three sides, turn the page to see a photo (November seventeen) showing dozens of male spectators looking down on the building site, now full of working construction equipment, traffic and a newsstand has appeared on a corner, by December one this newsstand has become a hut and incorporated into the fencing that now runs round the site. After the exterior, the cameraman went inside to capture the lovely deco detailing.

    In the back of the book there are thumbnails and captions for the photos. Page 154 has five floor plans (I was rather disappointed that there were not more diagrams showing the exterior decorative work) and you realise that the building is not oblong, the non-street end has a chamfered side. Just one of the many insights that you'll get from this fascinating photo study of one of the world's great landmarks.

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