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Chrysler Building: 1932

Chrysler Building: 1932

Jan. 19, 1932. "View from Empire State Bldg. to Chrysler Building and Queensboro Bridge, low viewpoint." 5x7 negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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Legos or a Video Game

I love this photograph. At first glance it looks surreal, like it is a Lego block building set or a video game where you build a city empire.

Gigapans from this viewpoint...

Hi -

I just completed a series of view from the Empire State Building. Can't really embed any of the photos, as they are several hundred megabytes each (10MB images stitched together), but here is a link with a view of the Chrysler Building. If you want more, simply search the website for my pictures (search for "JohnF" there), there are a number of them from New York and elsewhere...


Old pics vs new pics

>> Why is this picture so much more beautiful and magical and fascinating and dreamy than your average cityscape of today on film? Is it gothic/nouveau/art deco subject matter + the technique + the hardware?

A good question, not easy to answer-- but some people still take above-average cityscapes, e.g.

The cool building is...

The Chanin Building. You can see it in the 2002 photo I posted below.

[Actually the "cool building" referred to below is the Lincoln Building. - Dave]


Ahh, I see it, thnx. Wow, the neighborhood really grew, it doesn't stand out as much.

Re: White Castle

New York Hospital. Now Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The City is beautiful, but..

I've been waiting to make a comment on the recent string of NYC photos. I grew up on Long Island and could see lower Manhattan from my school's playground. I always wanted to know what the skyline looked like before my time.

That said, the hardest thing for me to realize is that although this view is absolutely stunning, it was taken at the height of the Great Depression. I cannot reconcile the stories of suffering and privation that led to my grandfather running away from his home not too far uptown from here and only four years after this picture was taken (at age 14) with the gleaming monuments to mankind that compose this photograph.

White Castle

Can anyone identify the big gleaming complex on the river, north of the bridge? I'm guessing its around the E 70s. I can't spy anything like that in Google Maps or Earth and it seems like a mighty big object to disappear. Maybe it was in Robert Moses' way when building FDR Drive?

[It's still there. New York Hospital. - Dave]

Perfect Timing

By coincidence, the Knowledge Channel here in Canada has recently been re-running Ric Burns's excellent documentary "New York." Watching the series again and seeing these great images on Shorpy is perfect timing. I can almost hear the splendid narrative of the documentary in my head as I gaze upon these wonderful photographs. More please!

Cool Lincoln Building

The "cool" building with the Gothic Arches is the Lincoln Building at 60 East 42nd Street. I used to work in it.

And yes it is still there!

The current view

You can almost duplicate this view using Google Earth's 3D buildings feature. The building in the lower left is the Mercantile building, finished in 1929. The building with the gothic arches is the Lincoln Building and still stands.

Seen clearly in this view

Seen clearly in this view are the towers at 295 Madison Avenue (SE corner of 41st Street) and 230 Park Avenue (now the Helmsley Building, between 45th and 46th Streets), the latter of which is surrounded by the east and west ramps of Park Avenue, as are the Met Life (once the Pan Am) building and the Grand Central Terminal complex. I worked at 295 Madison in 1959-60, and later at 230 Park in 1977-1981. It's great to see these classical skyscraper buildings again, and to hope they are never demolished for one of those glass monstrosities so prevalent today in this part of Manhattan.

What's that cool building?

What's the building about a block to the left of the Chrysler building, with gothic arches near the top and what appears to be a penthouse with skylight? Is it still standing?


When I look at this photo (and the other Gottschos), it summons up a lifetime's worth of emotion in viewing the astonishing landscape of the Capital of the World and I am yearning again for a city that has no equal anywhere. And to echo the tenor of several of the commentators, this period in time was perhaps the New York era ne plus ultra.

Thanks again, Dave.


This is my new wallpaper, replacing the Detroit Aquarium. The 59th St. Bridge has never looked so good. Frustratingly, my neighborhood in Queens is just to the right of the frame. I got a kick out of seeing both the 3rd and the 2nd El's in the lower right corner. These have both been torn down now. You can read about them here.

Another stunner!

Another stunning view. And just when I'd thought I had found my favorite Shorpy picture....These cityscapes always blow me away. KEEP "EM COMING!

Re: Speaking of directions

>> Isn't that the Sydney Harbour Bridge out in the distance in the top-left corner?

Kind of, it's the Hell Gate Bridge, which turned out to be an inspiration for the SHB. Also seen here on Shorpy.

It was positive

The canyons of mid-Manhattan were places of positive joy for a early 20-something guy attending television and radio production school at RCA Institutes in 1963. At the time I held a grand position as mail boy in the then-General Electric Building at 570 Lexington Ave. (to the left behind the Waldorf Towers in the photo), and my dad had an office in the Empire State Building at the time. Apropos of nothing, I once saw Van Johnson striding down Broadway in a trench coat walking a brace of Afghan hounds. Ah, those truly were the days, my friend!


The gas holders by the bridge caught my eye. I didn't realize how huge they are - a lot of the nearby buildings could fit inside one.

Similar tanks were pictured in this previous post.

My first visit to NYC

Many years ago my father took me to NYC for the boat show and we walked for miles seeing the sights. He took us to Macy's, St. Patrick's, Radio City and the top of the Empire State Building. Somewhere I have snapshots from the observation deck, all four directions at that. I'll have to find them and see how they compare.

What happen?

When I look at the magnificent architecture of these old pre-1950 buildings and compare them to the unimaginative glass boxes of today- I wonder- what happen?

Equal Time

Washingtonians have had their day for quite some time now and New York is having its day in the sun, thanks to Dave. Can San Francisco be far behind?

Why, why, why

Why, why, why is this picture so much more beautiful and magical and fascinating and dreamy than your average cityscape of today on film? Is it gothic/nouveau/art deco subject matter + the technique + the hardware? I don't know, but I sure love it.

Same Viewpoint

I believe I snapped a photo from the same viewpoint at Mr. Gottscho 70 years later on the occasion of my 40th birthday - November 1, 2002.

Welfare Island

The Queensboro Bridge that connects Manhattan to Queens is seen straddling Roosevelt Island, a residential community of some 12,000 people. There are rentals, co-ops, and condos and it is a self contained community with some of the best views of Manhattan. Its predecessor was called Welfare Island and housed the city's tuberculosis hospital, before that it was known as Blackwell's Island, which was a prison complex and insane asylum. Roosevelt Island is connected to Manhattan by a tramway (59th Street) and a newer subway station (IND on the 63rd St Line). It can be approached by car or truck from the Queens side. The founders fought hard to make it part of Manhattan and not Queens, it has a Manhattan Zip Code, 10044, and Area Code, 212.

Speaking of directions

Isn't that the Sydney Harbour Bridge out in the distance in the top-left corner?

Great work Dave

Please keep the NYC views coming, They have been great. This one is my new desktop wallpaper. Thanks for your tireless efforts.

[You're (pant, gasp) very welcome! - Dave]

Negative Comment

Is the negative reversed here? It seems like the East River should be on the right, not the left.

[Maybe it's the West River. - Dave]

[Thanks for fixing it! Can you switch faucets, too? My hot is cold and my vice is versa.- Delworthio]

Is this backwards

Has this photo been mirrored? The empire state building is to the southwest of the Chrysler building, which is southwest of the bridge.

[Whoops. It was backwards. Now fixed. Thank you! - Dave]

For a moment...

I was wondering where the Empire State Building was! Then I read the caption. What an amazing photo this is. Dave, you're outdoing yourself lately. Gottscho's negatives are a true treasure.

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