Walter Chrysler of Chrysler Motors Corporation wanted a building that would be a fitting symbol of his machine-age empire. Architect Willam Van Alen set out to erect the worlds tallest building and had immediate competition from a bank tower going up at 40 Wall Street with the same goal in mind.
Van Alen had a big surprise that was kept from the media and the public. He secretly built a spire inside the building. At the last minute, to everyone's amazement, the 185-ft spire was hoisted through the roof and bolted into place. This made it the worlds tallest building at 1046 feet, 119 feet taller than the Wall Street Building.
The victory was short-lived, however. The Empire State Building surpassed the Chrysler Building in height just 12 months later.
The elaborate ornamentation at the top of the Chrysler Building continues to make it one of the most popular buildings in New York City.