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The giants of Art Deco in New York.
Not all artistic or design movements manage to rise above themselves. There are only just a few that manage to bewitch different generations. This is the case of Art Deco, a movement that had its origin at the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in Paris, and which really took off from 1920 onwards, influencing fields such as architecture, painting, sculpture, interior design, graphic and industrial design, and cinematography. If there is one city that took Art Deco to its maximum expression, that is New York. The Art Deco Society of New York has 57 listed buildings in the city, constructions that remain almost intact. Among all of them, six stand out: six buildings that have become icons of the city and of world architecture.
Empire State Building _
Without a doubt the most emblematic skyscraper in New York. Designed by the American architect William F. Lamb, construction was completed in 1930. It held the record for the tallest building in the world for forty years. Of particular note is its main entrance, outstanding in its symmetry and in the elegance of the way that the stone was cut. The windows flanked by two large sculptures are impressive, but the part which is truest to Art Deco is its spectacular hall, full of luxury and details that are impossible to locate on one simple viewing.
The automobile magnate Walter Percy Chrysler insisted on demonstrating his power by building his own skyscraper. To do so he entrusted the design to the architect William Van Allen, and it was inaugurated in 1930. The funny thing is that this building was designed with elements that mimic the parts of an automobile. You need do no more than take a look at the ornamentation of the tower, inspired by the hubcaps used in those years by the brand that gives the building its name. Other curiosities are that there is a gargoyle in the shape of an eagle on every one of the corners of the 61st floor, replicas of the radiator caps on the 31st and an impressive mural that decorates the ceiling in the lobby, painted by Edward Trumbull. At the time, it was the largest fresco in the United States.
Rockefeller Center _
For many years, the Rockefeller family was the most powerful family in the United States. One symbol of that power was the complex of 19 commercial buildings designed by the architect Raymond Hood and, among them, the famous Radio City Hall. The concept used is that of a city with another city, pure Art Deco. Above the entrance to the building there is a relief sculpture to Wisdom, an allegory about wisdom and knowledge by the sculptor Lee Lawrie. The interior of the building was done by such well-known artists as Diego Rivera, Josep María Sert and Frank Brangwyn.
Hotel Waldorf Astoria_
Possibly the most iconic hotel in New York City. Inaugurated in 1931, the building, which was designed and built by the architects Schultze & Weaver, can be considered as the first Art Deco-style hotel in the world and also the tallest, since it has 47 floors. Built in dark brick, it is topped by two large towers that reach 191 meters in height. The hall is stunning, decorated with murals, mosaics and large chandeliers, and featuring a magnificent clock in the centre.
The Chanin Building_
A national historic monument, this building was designed by Sloan & Robertson in 1928. One of its most notable features is that it uses a limestone and terracotta cladding. The lobby was the brainchild of Jacques Delamarre, with bronze panels depicting male figures, plant motifs, and technological advances such as airplanes, trains, and automobiles. The upper part displays a masterful use of brick and at the lower end of the building, along the façade, it features terracotta bas-reliefs that represent flora and fauna.
American Standard _
Another national historic monument. This 23-story building was commonly referred to as Radiator as it housed the offices of the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Company, the companies that commissioned the construction of this skyscraper to the architects Raymond Hood and John Howells in 1924. It is a building that attracts attention due to the black brick of its façade, the gothic motifs coated with a golden layer and the entrance decorated with marble and black mirrors.Read more Close