Image via Library of Congress
We all know the Chrysler Building in New York City–that it was once the world’s tallest building (thanks to the last minute add of a 125 foot spire), or that its Art Deco ornamentation is derived from automobile references. But we often forget that the Chrysler Building had an auto showroom too, the most direct reference to the company that built the skyscraper.
While the original purpose of the building as the headquarters for Chrysler never materialized, the showroom was located in the lobby of the building. According to the book Chrysler by Dennis Adler, “whether one could actually buy an automobile off that floor is lost to fading memories.” The New York Times reported in 1997 that the showroom actually once occupied the first two floors of the lobby. Most of these photographs are from 1936, the first decade the Chrysler Building was open.
The lobby, with Moroccan marble walls, yellow marble floors, chrome steel ornamentation and murals, was certainly a fitting tribute architecturally to the primacy of the automobile at the time. A 2010 exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York showcased the grandeur of the city’s automobile showrooms. Earlier last year, a Frank Lloyd Wright auto showroom quietly disappeared on Park Avenue, replaced by a TD Bank despite the fact that it was under consideration as a landmark.