Suddenly, in the night sky!
A tiara of light!
A seven-tiered golden crown!
A temple dancer's headdress blazing majestically up there under the rushing clouds!
And it's fuzzy!
The Chrysler Building--the world's most loved skyscraper--lit up at precisely 8:59 tonight the way its creator had intended it to, glowing from within.
"I don't know how much it's costing me," said Jack Kent Cooke, who bought the building in 1979 from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company for $89 million. And, he added, "I don't give a damn."
From now on, every night after dusk the lights will go on by automatic time clock, remaining lit until about midnight, the same as the Empire State Building lights.
The Chrysler tower had been floodlit for years, up to the late '70s. But this is something new: a series of inverted Z's, jackstraws of light that gives the tower a curiously furry look. Hand-blown fluorescent tubes, 580 of them, frame the 120 triangular windows of the tower. Engineers spent six months wiring them. The plans come straight from architect William Van Alen's original drawings.
It's the biggest jack-o'-lantern in the world.
Cooke, the TelePrompTer man who owns the biggest piece of the Redskins, had the lights turned on Aug. 9 in a brief test. He got so excited he almost left them on for good, then and there.
So far he has spent $31 million to renovate the stately, elegant structure, replacing windows, putting in new metalwork, completing Massachusetts Mutual's $58 million restoration job.
At that, the building was decades ahead of its time. Van Alen had installed features so radically new they were still untried: concealed radiators with individual thermostats, a central vacuum cleaning system, wiring ducts under the floors and self-cleansing central air conditioners.
While it was a-building in the wake of the 1929 Crash, rival skyscrapers reared up all over New York. The Manhattan Bank on Wall Street went beyond it by a chintzy 24 inches when it apparently topped at 925 feet, but overnight Van Alen rammed a stainless steel spire up through the dome, adding another 121 feet. For one month there in 1930, the Chrysler was the world's tallest building. Then the Empire State came zooming past it to become, at 1,250 feet and 102 stories, the record-holder for 40 years. Who Cares? The Empire State is just a building. Ther Chrysler is a work of art. If Van Allen didn't literaslly sign the thing, it's only because he didn't have a big enough brush.
Even in a picture painted by a six yaer old: you know its New york because... hey, there's the Chrysler building!
The Chrysler building is cute. The world's only cute skyscraper.
It goes up 1,046 feet. 4 3/4 INCHESAND down 69 feet below the surface. It has 77 stories, 32 elevators, 200 flights of stairs, 391,381 rivets and 15 miles of solid brass stripes in its Italian Terrazzo floors.
It has giant Chrysler hubcaps nad vintage radiator tops embedded in the walls, and th e Edward Trumball ceiling mural, buziggest in the world, and it coms to a needle point in the tippy top.
Three months after it opened in April 1930, the three story Cloud Club went into op 1/2eration for the pleasure of Whitneys and Vanderbilts and Firestones. It features special private liquor cabinets for the members, scorning Prohibition and a 12 foot walk in cigar humidor and a barbershop, Turkish bath and library.
Above that was an observation deck where you could contemplate a glass case filled with Walter P. Chrysler's own machinist tools, which he made himself as a five cent an hour, 17 year old metal worker. Chrysler was to live somewhere up there in a sumptuous pentouse , but he never moved in.
His wife was afraid of heights.
There is a marvelous 1930 mural by Gardner HAll in the now vacant Cloud Club. Texaco has been hintingthat it would love to get its corporate hands on that mural, and it probably will, Cooke said, because Texaco has been a tenant in the building since the word go.
In fact the former Texaco tour service center on the second floor used to be the main Chrysler showroom, all 15,000 square feet, a third of an acre. They used to bring th$31 million getting this bulding back in the shape it was in when Walter Chrysler first turned the key in the lock," said Cooke. "It's 98 per cent rented already. People love that address."
Imagine. A friend wants to know where to find your place in New York and all you have to say is "just look up in the sky. Day or night. You can't miss it."