Once located on the 66th to 68th floors of the Chrysler Building, The Cloud Club belonged to a group of mile-high power lunch spots in New York City, atop the city’s most distinctive skyscrapers. The New York Times calls The Cloud Club “the inspiration for many of the others.” It was initially designed for Texaco, which occupied 14 floors of the Chrysler Building, and used as a restaurant for executives. It opened with 300 members of New York City’s business elite and only men were allowed to enter for many decades.
Photo from NYPL Collections
The Cloud Club was designed by William van Alan, and had an eclectic mix of design, ranging from Futurist in the main dining room, Tudor for the lounge, and an Old English grill room. Perhaps because of its decor, or its original function, it never became hip and stylish like the Rainbow Room but it did have amenities like a barber shop, a humidor, lockers for members to store their own alcohol of choice, and a wood-paneled bar that was used to hide alcohol during Prohibition. There was a stock ticker for the high powered financiers who frequented the club.
The Cloud Club closed in the 1979. The New York Times reported in 2000 that there were “various attempts in the early 1980’s to fill the three floors with everything from a nightclub to a disco to a lunch club for bankers” but they all failed. As of 2000, the marble and bronze staircase was still in the space, however, and the club had been “ravaged by time, neglect, water and vandalism.”
The club was later gutted to accommodate both potential office and hospitality tenants but according to the New York Post, potential restaurant operators were scared off by the “impractical layout.” As of the early 2010s, several, if not all floors were empty, but in recent years, AMA Capital Partners, a merchant bank focused shipping and energy, moved into the former Cloud Club floors.
Photo by Dark Cyanide
In 1931 when the Chrysler Building opened, it also had an observatory called the “Celestial” in the spire on the 71st floor. You could take in views of the city from all four sides for fifty cents. The star-themed observation deck closed down in 1945 and according to Moses Gates in his book Hidden Cities, it’s now occupied by a private firm. On a visit to the observatory in 2006, our Untapped New York Insider, Klaus-Peter Statz told us there were leftovers of a bar, with a bar, stools, and little tables, but not much else left.
A mural of the Chrysler Building that was once in the observatory hallway, before entering the bar area. Photo by Klaus-Peter Statz.
But observation decks, which once peppered New York’s Art Deco skyline, are all the rage again, with the opening of new observation decks like The Edge at Hudson Yards, the repurposing of others, like atop 70 Pine which will become the restaurant SAGA this spring, and the rehabilitation of old favorites like at the Empire State Building.
In fact, when Aby Rosen of RFR Holdings purchased the Chrysler Building in spring of 2019, he told the New York Post he was considering bringing back an observation deck. The Post reported that he was in discussion with Major Food Group and Stephen Starr about creating new restaurant spaces that “could rival the Cloud Club,” in hopes to revitalize the struggling ground floor.
One of the triangular windows inside the observatory. Photo by Klaus-Peter Statz.
Photo by Klaus-Peter Statz.
Time will only tell if anything comes of the grand plans to bring back an observation deck. Rosen got a great deal on the building, which is known to be a difficult business operation, paying $151 million to the Abu Dhabi Investment Fund, which had bought a 90% stake in the building for $800 million back in 2008. Tishman Speyer had bought the building in 1997 for $225 million.
Next, join us on some of the first access up to The Edge, the observation deck at Hudson Yards (and get a tour too!)
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the Chrysler Building.