When you go to see the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, set aside some time to see The Daily News building (220 East 42nd Street, former fictional office building — The Daily Planet — of the mild-mannered Clark Kent) and the Chanin Building (122 East 42nd Street), each within a block or so.
Both are remarkable Art Deco masterpieces. There are few tourists eyeballing Clark Kent’s place of work, the lobby of which contains an enormous, rotating, world globe. I think I heard it is the world’s largest.
Both buildings are adorned with reliefs that are clearly in the Art Deco style, The Chanin building’s are bronze, and in its lobby are some mesmerizing abstracted bronze grills. It’s right across 42nd Street from Grand Central.
Nearby, on the corner of 51st and Lexington, is the General Electric Building. Another Art Deco masterpiece, it was originally built to house the RCA enterprise, then a subsidiary of GE. But shortly afterward, RCA moved to Rockefeller Center, leaving this as the GE corporate headquarters building.
On it look for decorations of lightning bolts representing the ‘power’ of electricity and, in its crown, exuberant tracery work intended to evoke the ‘look’ of radio waves.
It is always worthwhile to try to gain entrance to the lobbies of these kinds of buildings. It is not always possible, but if you succeed, you may be awed. Remember, these are not knockoffs, they are original statements of American Art Deco design practice.