New York City is famous for its incredible architecture — most notably, for its skyscrapers. In fact, visitors to the city could base an entire trip around visiting the city’s tallest buildings, learning New York’s history as they go. This blog post is an introduction to New York’s most iconic skyscrapers, giving you a little background and a little advice if you’re planning a trip.
The stunning Chrysler Building, a beautiful example of Art Deco architecture
Built in 1930, the Chrysler Building is one of the most stunning Art Deco buildings in the world. Its Art Deco style was very popular when it was built, and it is now considered to be one of the most exquisite examples of the movement. There used to be an observation deck for visitors to look at the city, but this closed in 1945. So, you may just have to appreciate the Chrysler Building from the outside. The Chrysler Building can be found on 405 Lexington Ave, not far from Bryant Park, and considering it stands 1047ft (319m) high, you can’t really miss it!
In 1930, the Chrysler Building was the tallest building in the world. While it was in construction, it was in competition with another skyscraper being built at 40 Wall Street. Both buildings were vying for the tallest-building world record. William Van Alen, the architect behind the Chrysler Building hid a 125ft (38m) spire at the top of the skyscraper, so when the building at 40 Wall Street was finished and crowned the World’s tallest building, they lifted the spire and fixed it in place, becoming the new tallest building! However, the Chrysler Building only held the top spot for one year…
The iconic Empire State Building
Arguably, the Empire State Building is the most iconic skyscraper in the world, let alone in New York City. Amazingly, it took only a little more than a year to build. It was started in 1930 and finished in 1931. The Empire State Building took the World’s-tallest-building top spot from the Chrysler Building and held this position for a further 39 years, which means it also holds the record for being the World’s tallest building for the longest period of time!
Because the Empire State Building was so big and because it was made during the Great Depression, it initially struggled to find enough businesses and commercial occupants to fill it. This earned it the nickname “The Empty State”. However, the building more than made up for its lack of occupants by inviting the millions of visitors each year to buy a ticket to stand on its observation deck and look out over the city. And, unlike the Chrysler Building, you can still visit the Empire State Building’s observation deck, which offers unparalleled views of the city.
Also called 30 Rock, Rockefeller Plaza isn’t as tall as the Empire State building or the Chrysler Building, but it’s stunning Art Deco design has earned it many admirers over the years. 30 Rock was built by the famous billionaire Rockefeller family and the observation deck on its 70th floor is called “The Top of the Rock” and it offers panoramic views of Midtown Manhattan and beyond.
Right in the middle of 5th and 6th Avenues, the famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza is one of the most decadent buildings in the city, with amazing Art Deco features, decorations, and murals. For example, right at the entrance, you’ll find a stunning bronze statue of Prometheus. 30 Rock is also famous for containing the offices and studios for some popular TV shows, such as The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live!
The truly unique Flatiron Building
The Flatiron Building was one of the World’s tallest buildings when it was built in 1902, and it was one of the first skyscrapers made with a steel frame. It was made by George A. Fuller and was originally called the Fuller Building, but many New Yorkers weren’t impressed with its strange appearance and it earned the nickname “The Flat Iron Building”. In later years, its owners embraced this nickname and made it the building’s official name.
The Flatiron Building is an incredibly unique skyscraper and one of Manhattan’s most iconic buildings. Given that it was built more than 115 years ago, it is a brilliant example of New York’s rise to glory. You’ll find the Flatiron Building at 175 5th Avenue. There are currently plans to turn it into a luxury hotel, but it is still used for office space by numerous occupants.
That’s all we have time for in this guide to New York’s most iconic skyscrapers. Honorable mentions include the beautiful Woolworth Building on 233 Broadway, the Met Life Tower (once the tallest building in the world, from 1909 to 1913), and the One World Trade Center (now the tallest building in New York) which was built on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center. If you’re interested in the World Trade Center, we run an excellent World Trade Center Area tour that includes the 9/11 memorial. Please get in touch if you have any questions about our range of New York City tours. Let us help you plan your next big New York City trip!
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