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New York’s Chrysler Building Is Getting a Public Observation Deck

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The observation deck will be located on the terrace directly above the eagle gargoyles.

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The observation deck will be located on the terrace directly above the eagle gargoyles.

When it opens, fans of art deco architecture will be able to get up close and personal with the New York landmark’s iconic designs.

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This summer in New York is not shaping up to look great, but here’s something worth looking forward to later. Earlier this week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans for an observation deck in the Chrysler building. The new deck will be located on the existing outdoor terraces on the north and south side of the 61st floor and will require new glass panels since currently little more than metal handrails are used as barriers. 

Gensler, the design and architecture firm working on the project, declined to comment on the project beyond the Landmarks Preservation Commission announcement in May. With no timeline information available and New York still under lockdown, it’s unlikely the project will begin construction anytime soon.

When it does open, it will join a plethora of other observation decks in New York City, including those at the Empire State building, One World Trade Center, and the brand-new Edge Hudson Yards observation deck that opened on March 11, mere days before the city ended up virtually closing down to curb the spread of coronavirus. Located on the 100th floor of the tallest tower in Hudson Yards, the Edge will maintain its title of the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere when the Chrysler building deck eventually opens.

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Although it won’t set any records and will be located even lower than most of the city’s big-name building observation decks, the Chrysler project is nevertheless exciting because the office building remains relatively off-limits to the public beyond the chance to pop your head into the lobby.

When it opened in 1930, it was briefly the tallest building in the world until the Empire State building surpassed it in 1931. Built as the headquarters of the Chrysler Corp., which occupied the building until 1953, elements of the Chrysler building’s geometric architecture are inspired by the car company’s designs. (The eagle gargoyles allude to hood ornaments, and you’ll notice radiator cap elements in multiple places on the building.)

This won’t be the first observation deck in the building. When it initially opened, there was an indoor public viewing gallery on the 71st floor complete with a celestial motif and Saturn-shaped light fixtures. It, however, closed in 1945 and is occupied by a private tenant today.

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