Not all new skyscrapers make news. But the birth of the Chrysler Building, in 1928, immediately commanded attention, as TIME reported:
Walter Percy Chrysler has just gained the head of the third greatest motor company by the Chrysler-Dodge merger. He is less individualistic than Mr. Ford, yet is mighty proud of his success and reputation. Last week he started selling mortgage bonds (through S. W. Strauss & Co.) on what will be the tallest building—in Manhattan or the world. It will contain 68 stories, and be 808 ft. high. It will, of course, be called the Chrysler Building and is Mr. Chrysler’s personal venture.
The completed building surpassed expectations, measuring 1,046 ft. and change.
“A great gesture towards a fortune built by automobiles is the Chrysler Building,” TIME reported shortly after it officially opened to the public 85 years ago, on May 27, 1930. “Oldtime Manhattanites recalled last week that 50 years ago its site was a goat pasture.”
Its opening ceremony drew the presence of many of New York City’s dignitaries—including Alfred Emanuel Smith, whose corporation was at that very moment constructing the Empire State Building, which would shortly knock the Chrysler from its place of honor.