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Peek Inside 1945's 'Celestial' Chrysler Building Observatory

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Presenting Monochromes, a new Friday mini-series wherein Curbed delves deep into the Library of Congress's photographic annals, resurfacing with an armful of old black-and-white photos of architecture and interior design of yesteryear. Have a find you want to share? Hit up the tipline; we'd love to hear from you.

Today we take a break from our regularly-scheduled Library of Congress programming to have a look at a tipster's request: the observatory on the 71st floor of New York City's Chrysler Building. The observatory—which featured, according to the book The Chrysler Building: One Kansas Mechanic and His Jazz-Age Tower of Babel, "a celestial motif, with sun rays painted on the walls, and Saturn-shaped lighting globes hanging from the ceiling"—opened to the public in 1945, 15 years after construction halted on the tower. The book also says that the steeply-pitched gabled ceiling succeeded in creating a feel of "disorienting splendor," a technique used by architect William Van Alen to "dramatize a state of mind."

· The Chrysler Building: Creating a New York Icon, Day by Day [Princeton Architectural Press]
· All Monochromes posts [Curbed National]
· All Dwelling posts [Curbed National]