An Art Deco Architecture Tour of New York City

Chrysler Building | Sergi Pinedo Martinez / Unsplash
Chrysler Building | Sergi Pinedo Martinez / Unsplash
Photo of Loni Klara
30 January 2017

It can be a difficult task to choose which Art Deco buildings to highlight in New York, as there’s a plethora to choose from across all five boroughs. However, here are some iconic structures that symbolize the best of the city.

The Chrysler Building

Built by the architect William Van Alen, the Chrysler Building was completed in 1930 and remained the tallest building in the world until the record was surpassed by the Empire State Building 11 months later. Currently, it is the fifth tallest building in New York at 1,046 feet (318.8 meters), including the spire, and has 77 floors. The top of the building is easily recognizable as classic Art Deco.

Chrysler Building | © Chris Parker / Flickr

The Waldorf Astoria New York

Completed in 1931 after a history of feuding families and two smaller buildings – the Waldorf and the Astoria – the current building as it stands, called The Waldorf Astoria New York, was designed by Schultze and Weaver and was the tallest hotel in the world from its completion to 1963. Following the hotel’s purchase in 2016 by the Anbang Insurance Group, the venue will be closed to the public starting in the spring of 2017 and will undergo renovations for the next three years, transforming parts of the long-standing luxury hotel into private condominiums.

The Waldorf-Astoria | © Chris Breeze / Flickr

Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center comprises 19 buildings in Midtown Manhattan. The 14 original buildings in the center were built in the 1930s in the Art Deco style, while the remaining five buildings followed later with more modern architectural features. The complex is a popular tourist destination as well as the spot for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony that is broadcast live across U.S. networks. It also has a famous observation deck called Top of the Rock, which offers a 360-degree view over the city from the 70th floor.

Rockefeller Center | © Franco Folini / Flickr

Radio City Music Hall

The Radio City Music Hall, opened in 1932, is an entertainment venue that stands across the street from the main plaza on 6th Avenue. Designed by the architect Edward Durell Stone, it has a seating capacity of approximately 6,000 guests. The interior features Art Deco ornaments and fixtures, furnished by the designer Donald Deskey. It is home to the women’s dance group known as The Rockettes and their traditional The Radio City Christmas Spectacular that has been an ongoing annual tradition since 1933.

Radio City Music Hall (cropped version) | © / Flickr

30 Rockefeller Plaza

The main building of the Center, 30 Rockefeller Plaza is a 70-floor-high skyscraper that serves as the headquarters of NBC Universal, housing numerous studios including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Seth Meyers, and Saturday Night Live. It is often colloquially referred to as 30 Rock, which is also the name of the TV show that takes place in the venue.

30 Rockefeller Plaza | Anders Jildén / Unsplash

Empire State Building

An essential part of the New York City skyline, the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, making it the tallest building in the world until 1970 when the World Trade Center’s North Tower surpassed the record. The building was designed from the top down in two weeks by architect William F. Lamb and has been designated one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Visitors have the option to go up to the outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor or the indoor observatory on the 102nd floor. Both places have been featured in several notable films including An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle.

Empire State Building

The New Yorker A Wyndham Hotel

The New Yorker Hotel, operated by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, opened in 1930 and was designed by architects Sugarman and Berger. At the time of its opening, the hotel had around 2,500 rooms and five restaurants (it now has about 1,000 rooms). It has also been home to renowned figures such as Nikola Tesla and was a popular destination for the rich and famous, from the Brooklyn Dodgers to Muhammad Ali. At one time, it was owned and operated by Hilton Hotels. Currently, its owner is the Unification Church of the United States.

The New Yorker, A Wyndham Hotel | © Matt Kiefer / Flickr

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