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An observation deck is coming to the Chrysler Building

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Taking design inspiration from the icon’s former Jazz Age speakeasy

Max Touhey

An observation deck is returning to the Chrysler Building as part of plans to overhaul the iconic Art Deco skyscraper—drawing inspiration from the 77-story office tower’s once famous prohibition-era speakeasy.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved plans this week for the viewing deck, which requires erecting glass on the north and south terraces of the 61st floor. When all is said and done, the observation deck will offer sweeping views of the city mere feet from the building’s famed Art Deco eagles on the corners of the 61st floor, according to Leslie Jabs, principal at design and architecture firm Gensler.

The planned observation deck.
RFR Realty/Gensler courtesy of Landmarks Preservation Commission

The plan, which lacks a clear timeline, comes just over a year after Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty purchased the Jazz Age landmark for a steal at $150 million with plans to restore the skyscraper to its former glory.

“I see the building as a Sleeping Beauty: It needs to be woken up and revitalized,” Rosen told the New York Post at the time of the purchase. And that includes taking inspiration from the building’s former “Cloud Club,” an ultra-exclusive restaurant and bar that once occupied the 66th through 68th floors of the skyscraper.

It was among the most distinguished of the mile-high dining clubs, with a main dining room the New York Times described as having “a futuristic, Fritz Lang sort of look, with polished granite columns and etched glass sconces.” Regulars included such moguls as Pan Am founder Juan Trippe, publisher Condé Nast (the person), and Chrysler founder Walter Chrysler himself (who had his own private dining room).

That club closed in 1979, after which there were several failed attempts to revive the space. Now, RFR plans to mimic the club on the building’s 61st and 62nd stories with multiple restaurant spaces along with the observation deck (at one point, the building also had a planetary-themed observatory, dubbed the Celestial, on the 71st floor that closed in 1945).

Chrysler Building

, Manhattan, NY 10174