Although the Chrysler Building is far from being New York City’s tallest building, its Art Deco resplendence definitely makes it one of the most recognizable landmarks in the skyline. What you might not have known, however, is that the 1046-foot skyscraper not only used to be Manhattan’s tallest building, it was also briefly the world’s tallest, too.
On May 27, 1930, the Chrysler Building broke the Eiffel Tower’s record by 60 feet, thanks to a 185-foot spire that William Van Alen secretly constructed and erected in order to dupe the competition (the skyscraper at 40 Wall Street) into thinking it would easily clinch the top spot. It only took 11 months for the Empire State Building (which is 1250 feet tall, not including the 204-foot antennae) to come along and steal the title, but the Chrysler Building is arguably still every bit as iconic to tourists, New Yorkers, and architects today.
The interior of the spire, on the other hand, sort of looks like a large-scale papier-mâché project. As CityLab reports, urban explorer and Hidden Cities author Moses Gates took former Opie and Anthony radio host Gregg “Opie” Hughes right up into the spire, dozens of feet beyond the 71st floor (where elevator access stops).
Instead of a sleek, streamlined metal structure that matches the building’s famed exterior, it’s a cramped maze of ladders, reinforced concrete beams, and crawl spaces. But the breathtaking view of the city below, as you can see in the video, will probably live up to your expectations.