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Posh Portals cover

Posh Portals

Posh Portals cover
“Posh Portals,” published by Abbeville Press. Pictured is the 2211 Broadway entrance to Apthorp Apartments. The book is now available from Abbeville Press or Amazon.com (as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases).

I’ve been calling Posh Portals “my book” for years, though actually the author is noted architectural historian Andrew Alpern – who already had 10 other volumes published. But the cover and more than 350 inside photos are mine, and the watercolor illustrations are also based on my photos, so I really can’t be too objective, can I?

One of the reasons that I find architecture so fascinating is that buildings, like people, are so similar and at the same time infinitely diverse.

Take doors, for example. Every apartment building has to have a way in, obviously. It has to be substantial enough to keep out the elements, and large enough to permit occupants and their belongings to enter. So much for the similarities. The size, shape, material, style and embellishment, the scale, framing and placement of the front door are variables that together articulate the building’s character. A building’s portrait is never complete without an image of the front door.

In years of roaming cities with my camera, I’ve often shot doors and ignored the rest of the building. Some ancient, dilapidated dwellings – even crumbling tenements – were endowed with inviting portals. To the extent permitted by a developer’s budget, architects pride themselves on combining beauty with utility. One of the saddest parts of public housing is the cold steel front door, a mean, forbidding portal obviously designed more to keep people out than to invite people in.

In Andrew’s words, “The entrance to an apartment house is that important first impression, the opening sentence of the architectural story that sets the mood of the apartment building. A successful apartment house entrance must perform several functions, all of which must be kept in a delicate balance, consistent with the program that the developer has laid out for the architect to fulfill. The entrance is the dividing line between public and private space. It must make clear to the passer-by that he may approach and enter only if he has legitimate business within. Yet that entrance cannot be as forbidding as a fort, nor as evidently guarded as a prison, as it provides entrée to the homes of its residents, who may be the hosts of the approaching visitors.”

Here, then, is a collection of New York City’s most luxurious and distinctive apartment buildings, each endowed by their architect with entrances that speak volumes.

While these Posh Portals are no accident, my role this collection is definitely a case of serendipity. Your humble photographer was walking south along New York City’s Central Park West, an avenue lined with magnificent architecture. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a distinguished-looking gentleman sitting on a bench across from the famed Dakota; there was something familiar about him . . . A few steps later it clicked: “Andrew?” I asked, approaching the bench. “Ken?” he replied. Until this morning, we had only seen photos of each other, though we had conversed almost five months about photos for his book, “The Dakota – A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building.” He was waiting for a friend, and Andrew described a project he and Australian artist Simon Fieldhouse were discussing, an illustrated guide to the elaborate and ornate entrances to New York’s luxury apartment buildings. They’d need a good source of photos . . .

And so, from this chance meeting on a sunny January 13, 2014, my camera and I became part of Posh Portals. It’s been fun, educational, and sometimes challenging: Photographing buildings from street level in New York puts you at the mercy of the sun, traffic, parked trucks, and scaffolding that sometimes stays in place for years. The project took less than six minutes to describe, more than six years to complete, and was worth every second.

While obviously I’d LOVE for you to buy the book (shameless plug) from Amazon.com (as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases), photographs from Posh Portals are also available as framed or unframed prints on heavy paper, acrylic, or metal in a variety of sizes and styles. Just visit my Posh Portals photo gallery.

My gallery could not include the watercolor drawings by Simon Fieldhouse, but you can contact the artist at www.simonfieldhouse.com/new-york-apartment-entrances/.

Is your building here?

These are the notable apartment buildings we’ve selected as the Posh Portals of New York City. They’re listed by street address in dictionary order, so you’ll find 2 Sutton Place South after 1925 Seventh Avenue.

1 East End Avenue • 1 Fifth Avenue • 1 Sutton Place South • 1 West 30 Street – Wilbraham • 1 West 67 Street – Hotel des Artistes • 1 West 72 Street – Dakota • 10 Gracie Square • 1000 Park Avenue • 101 Central Park West • 1016 Fifth Avenue • 1067 Fifth Avenue • 1107 Fifth Avenue • 116 East 68 Street – Milan House • 1185 Park Avenue • 1198 Pacific Street – Imperial • 12 West 72 Street – Oliver Cromwell • 1215 Fifth Avenue • 1225 Park Avenue • 126 East 12 Street • 1261 Madison Avenue • 135 Central Park West – Langham • 135 East 79 Street • 135 West 70 Street – Pythian • 136 Waverly Place – Waverly • 140 Riverside Drive – Normandy • 141 East 3 Street – Ageloff Towers • 145 Central Park West – San Remo • 145 West 79 Street – Manchester House • 147 West 79 Street • 15 Central Park West • 15 West 67 Street – Central Park Studios • 151 Central Park West – Kenilworth • 171 West 71 Street – Dorilton • 180 West 58 Street – Alwyn Court • 19 East 72 Street • 1925 Seventh Avenue – Graham Court • 194 Riverside Drive

2 Sutton Place South • 20 East End Avenue • 200 Hicks Street -Casino Mansions Apartments • 201 West 79 Street – Lucerne • 210 East 68 Street • 2109 Broadway – Ansonia • 211 Central Park West – Beresford • 214 Riverside Drive – Chatillion • 215 West 98 Street – Gramont • 22 East 89 Street – Graham • 2207 Broadway – Apthorp • 222 Central Park South – Gainsborough • 225 Central Park West – Alden • 225 West 86 Street – Belnord • 235 East 22 Street – Gramercy House • 235 West End Avenue • 239 Central Park West • 240 East 79 Street • 241 Central Park West • 243 Riverside Drive – Cliff Dwelling • 243 West End Avenue • 246 East 4 Street • 25 Central Park West – Century • 25 East End Avenue • 251 West 71 Street • 25-35 Tennis Court – Chateau Frontenac • 258 Riverside Drive – Peter Stuyvesant • 27 West 67 Street – Sixty Seventh Street Studio • 285 Central Park West – St. Urban

3 East 84 Street • 30 East 76 Street • 300 Central Park West – Eldorado • 301 West 108 Street – Manhasset • 305 West 98 Street – Schuyler Arms • 310 Riverside Drive – Master Apartments • 32 St. Marks Place • 325 East 79 Street • 325 West End Avenue • 33 West 67 Street • 333 West End Avenue • 336 Central Park West • 34 Gramercy Park East – Gramercy • 344 West 72 Street – Chatsworth • 350 West 85 Street – Red House • 37 Washington Square West • 370 Central Park West • 380 Riverside Drive – Hendrik Hudson • 39 Fifth Avenue • 393 West End Avenue

40 East 62 Street • 400 Chambers Street – Tribeca Park • 401 Eighth Avenue Brooklyn – Roosevelt Arms • 410 Riverside Drive – Riverside Mansions • 418 Central Park West – Braender • 420 West End Avenue • 425 West 23 Street – London Terrace • 43 Fifth Avenue • 435 East 52 Street – River House • 439 East 551 Street – Beekman Mansion • 44 West 77 Street • 440 Riverside Drive – Paterno • 440 West End Avenue • 444 Central Park West • 446 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn • 45 East 66 Street • 450 East 52 Street – Campanile • 455 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn • 465 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn • 47 Plaza Street • 480 Park Avenue • 488 Nostrand Avenue – Renaissance • 49 East 96 Street • 490 West End Avenue • 495 West End Avenue • 498 West End Avenue

50 Central Park West – Prasada • 509 East 77 Street – Cherokee Apartments • 509 West 121 Street – Bancroft • 515 Park Avenue • 52 Riverside Drive • 520 Park Avenue • 521 Park Avenue • 522 West End Avenue • 527 Cathedral Parkway – Britannia • 540 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn – Cathedral Arms • 55 Central Park West • 57 West 75 Street – La Rochelle

625 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn – Arista • 666 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn – Cameo Court

7 Gracie Square • 70 Remsen Street • 70 Vestry Street • 711 Brightwater Court • 716 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn – Valence • 720 Park Avenue • 726 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn • 730 Park Avenue • 74 East 79 Street • 740 Park Avenue • 770 Park Avenue • 780 West End Avenue

800 Park Avenue • 820 Park Avenue • 834 Fifth Avenue • 838 West End Avenue • 850 Park Avenue • 898 Park Avenue

924 West End Avenue – Clebourne • 993 Fifth Avenue • 998 Fifth Avenue

Book Review: NY Skyscrapers

NY Skyscrapers

Dirk Stichweh, photos by Jörg Machirus and Scott Murphy | 192 pages | Prestel | 2016
< click image to see in Amazon.com
This is a magnificent celebration of the buildings that make New York’s skyline so exciting. The large 9½ʺ x 12½ʺ format and brilliant color photography make “NY Skyscrapers” a joy to browse again and again. You’ll find the city’s classic icons, of course, but also less-photographed and under-appreciated structures such as the West Street Building, Crown Building, and Paramount Building. Half of the photos are high-angle shots – seemingly from a helicopter or nearby buildings – so even familiar landmarks seem fresh. Each of the book’s 82 buildings is described with concise architectural commentary.

“NY Skyscrapers” provides context three ways: The volume begins with a history of skyscrapers in New York City; downtown and midtown skyscrapers are grouped, with maps; and numerous aerial group photos show the buildings’ relationship to their neighborhoods.

While any book on this subject is soon out of date, “NY Skyscrapers” includes renderings and descriptions of eight under-construction buildings scheduled to be completed by 2020.

More reviews at NYC Architecture: Books

East Village - Cooper Union Foundation Building

East Village (Manhattan)

Work In Progress: This neighborhood gallery is not yet complete.

The East Village was once among New York’s most prestigious residential neighborhoods, with elegant architecture in classical styles. In the mid-1800s wealthy New Yorkers moved “uptown” and waves of immigrants moved in. Pieces of Germany, Eastern Europe, and much later Latin America all became part of the Lower East Side tenement tapestry.

More than 30 individual landmarks and four historic districts earned protection of The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. The top 12 are referenced below. The NYC Landmarks Map is highly recommended!

One of the most important landmarks anchors the northwest corner of the district: The Cooper Union Foundation Building. This building was the first to use rolled iron “I” beams, so essential to development of skyscrapers. The building also contained an elevator shaft – even before passenger elevators were available. Additionally, this is where then-candidate Abraham Lincoln gave an address that catapulted him to the nomination and the Presidency.

The photos here are just a sampling of the most picturesque buildings.

East Village Recommended Reading
East Village Building Photos

◉ = Landmark. This table is sortable and searchable.

Google Map

Greenwich Village signs

Greenwich Village

Work In Progress: This neighborhood gallery is not yet complete.

New York’s Greenwich Village preserves two centuries of architectural treasures. These photos only hint at the historical architecture protected by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969.

Although “the Village” usually includes West Village, NoHo, and East Village, this gallery excludes those subdivisions – which have their own galleries.

As befits the district’s bohemian/counterculture image, the streets here ignore (because they predate) Manhattan’s street grid. Hence, you’ll find West 4th Street and West 10th Street intersecting, when they should be parallel, six blocks apart. Getting lost may be fun, but first-time visitors will want to bring a map!*

Wikipedia summarizes:

Greenwich Village, often referred to by locals as simply “the Village,” is a neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan, New York City. Greenwich Village has been known as an artists’ haven, the Bohemian capital, the cradle of the modern LGBT movement, and the East Coast birthplace of both the Beat and ’60s counterculture movements. Groenwijck, one of the Dutch names for the village (meaning “Green District”), was Anglicized to Greenwich. New York University (NYU) is located in Greenwich Village.

Greenwich Village has undergone extensive gentrification and commercialization; the four zip codes that constitute the Village – 10011, 10012, 10013, and 10014 – were all ranked among the ten most expensive in the United States by median housing price in 2014, according to Forbes, with residential property sale prices in the West Village neighborhood typically exceeding US$2,000 per square foot ($22,000/m2) in 2016.

Highly recommended: NYC Landmarks Map

* P.S., the West Village’s Gay Street has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Go ahead, Google it!

Greenwich Village Recommended Reading
Greenwich Village Architecture Photos
Building / Address Year Architect
1 Fifth Avenue 1927 Helme & Corbett, Sugarman & Berger
37 Washington Square West 1928 Gronenberg & Leuchtag
39 Fifth Avenue 1922 Emery Roth
Beauclaire / 25 E 9th Street, 26 E 10th Street, 40 University Place 1926 Sugarman & Berger
Cable Building / 611 Broadway 1894 McKim, Mead & White
Devonshire House / 28 E 10th Street 1926 Emery Roth
Lockwood de Forest house / 7 E 10th Street 1887 Van Campen Taylor
The New School / 63 Fifth Avenue 2014 Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Novarre / 135 W 4th Street 1860 Charles Hadden
Roosevelt Building 1894 Stephen D. Hatch
Wordsworth / 21 E 10th Street 1926 Sugarman & Berger

Google Map Note: Google’s definition includes the West Village; this gallery encompasses only the area east of Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas).

NYC Landmarks Map

NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

Thank You, Landmarks Preservation Commission!

Landmarks Preservation Commission
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has outdone itself with the new “Discover NYC Landmarks” web site. This interactive map is the fastest way to find and explore the city’s architectural heritage.

Since its creation in 1965, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has granted landmark status to more than 35,000 buildings and sites, including 1364 individual landmarks, 117 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks and 139 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. LPC shields this cultural history against defacement or destruction.

Equally if not more importantly, LPC has researched and written volumes of reports that examine and interpret those landmarks in the context of New York City and neighborhood history. The commission’s researchers also reveal the architects, builders and owners of the buildings.

Last but not least, LPC has made its work accessible in many ways. It published the “Guide to New York City Landmarks” (Fourth Edition – Wiley, 2009), and made individual report .PDFs available from its website.

Since 2011, I’ve relied on the LPC reports for details about the buildings I’ve photographed for NewYorkitecture.com. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Best Yet From Landmarks Preservation Commission

The new “Discover NYC Landmarks” site is LPC’s best-yet platform for browsing our architectural heritage. It’s an interactive map of the city, showing the locations of all landmarks and historic districts. Click on a landmark or district, a popup shows you the landmark name and designation date. Click on the popup image, and a .PDF report opens up. While the map itself is a major accomplishment, LPC has also upgraded its pre-computer reports. Old typewritten documents that had been scanned into .PDFs were often difficult to read and could not be searched electronically. The upgraded documents have been cleaned up dramatically and sometimes reformatted to make them easier to search and navigate.

The 433-page Greenwich Village Historic District report, for example, was originally published in two volumes. Here are the “before” and “after” versions of the original 1969 title page: The updated version combines both volumes and includes navigable bookmarks.

Before...
Before…
  
After...
After…

I’ve been using the improved report to document my new photos of Greenwich Village – it is so much easier to work with. Thank you, LPC!

Discover NYC Landmarks

West Village

West Village (Manhattan)

The West Village runs from Sixth Avenue to the Hudson River, between W 14th Street and W Houston Street. Almost all of the neighborhood is protected by landmark status, preserving centuries of history. As the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission noted:

“Greenwich Village is one of the oldest sections of Manhattan which was laid out for development in the years following the American Revolution. Today, it contains the greatest concentration of early New York residential architecture to be found anywhere within the five Boroughs of the City.

“Unlike Chelsea, Gramercy Park and other small residential islands in Manhattan which have managed to survive from the last century, Greenwich Village is unique because it is the only good-sized residential area which has remained largely intact and where the architecture reflects the continuum of a community. Many old buildings have retained their old uses while others, treasured as architecture, have been preserved to serve new and viable uses. Thus a sashmaker’s workshop, a medical dispensary, a malt house, a public livery stable, a fire station, a court house, a grocery or drygoods shop and dozens of other structures, built to serve the early community, are today as much a part of the architectural and historical heritage of The Village as are its many fine town houses, smaller dwellings and churches.”

Highly recommended: NYC Landmarks Map

West Village Recommended Reading
West Village Buildings Pictured
Building / Address Year Architect
1 Christopher Street 1931 Van Wart & Wein
2 Cornelia Street 1907 Fred Ebeling
11 Christopher Street 2006 Richard A. Cook
12 & 14 Gay Street 1828 Daniel H. Weed, Joseph D. Baldwin
15 Barrow Street 1896 H. Hasenstein
17 Grove Street 1822 unknown
19 Barrow Street 1834 David Christie, John W. Christie
25 Barrow Street 1826 Jacob Shute
45 Christopher Street 1931 Russell M. Boak and Hyman F. Paris
172 Waverly Place 1868 Richard A. Davis
224 W 4th Street 1932 Phelps Barnum
228 Bleecker Street 1901 Michael Bernstein
255 W 10th Street / 519-525 Hudson Street 1889 Rentz & Lange
257 W 10th Street 1889 Rentz & Lange
259 W 10th Street / 697 Greenwich Street 1892 Martin V.B. Ferdon
473-477 Hudson Street 1825 James N. Wells
527 Hudson Street 1858 unknown
679 Greenwich Street / 139 Christopher Street 1900 F.A. Burdett
Church of St. Luke in the Fields / 479 Hudson Street 1822 James N. Wells
The Gansvoort / 95 Christopher Street 1931 H.I. Feldman
Jane Hotel / 113 Jane Street / 505 West Street 1908 William A. Boring
One Jackson Square / 122 Greenwich Avenue 2011 Kohn Pederson Fox Associates
Our Lady of Pompeii / 240 Bleecker Street 1928 Matthew W. Del Guadio
PATH Christopher Street Station / 137 Christopher Street 1906 Robins & Oakman
Public School 3 / 97 Bedford Street 1906 C.B.J. Snyder
Shenandoah / 10 Sheridan Square 1929 Emery Roth
St. John’s Lutheran Church / 81 Christopher Street 1822 Berg & Clark
St. Joseph’s Church / 365 Sixth Avenue 1834 John Doran, Arthur Crook (1885 repair & alteration)
St. Veronica’s Church / 149 Christopher Street 1890 John J. Deery
Standard Hotel / 848 Washington Street 2009 Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership)
The Waverly / 136 Waverly Place 1928 Walter S. Schneider

NYC Landmarks Map

Google Map

1 Christopher Street

1 Christopher Street

1 Christopher Street is an imposing Neo-Federalist apartment house in the heart of Greenwich Village, towering over nearby landmarks Stonewall Inn and Jefferson Market Courthouse.

The 16-story structure was built in 1931. Architects Van Wart & Wein designed One Christopher six years after their Beekman Mansions on E 51st Street. The pair are an interesting contrast. One Christopher is best viewed from afar, as its best architectural details are a dozen stories up. Beekman Mansions is best viewed close up, as its architectural details are in the four-story base.

Retail spaces are at street level along the Greenwich Avenue facade; 131 rental apartments – studios and one-bedroom units – rise above.

Largely because of the views, City Realty calls the building “one of the finest pre-war rental apartment buildings in Greenwich Village.” Thanks to Greenwich Village’s landmark status, those views will be preserved for decades to come.

1 Christopher Street Vital Statistics
1 Christopher Street Recommended Reading

Google Map

The Waverly, 136 Waverly Place

Waverly

The Waverly is a beautifully maintained West Village landmark, erected in 1927-1928. The 16-story apartment building was designed by Walter S. Schneider.

The structure uses brickwork to achieve most of its texture – the spandrels and simulated quoins. The two-story entry is of stone and terra cotta; there are terra cotta decorations on the top two floors reminiscent of Herman Lee Meader’s Cliff Dwelling.

The cooperative includes street-level retail space along Sixth Avenue, and 76 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments.

If the building looks familiar, it may be because it’s the TV home of “Mad Men” character Don Draper.

Waverly Vital Statistics
Waverly Recommended Reading

Google Map

10 Sheridan Square

10 Sheridan Square

10 Sheridan Square, aka Shenandoah Apartments, is distinctive West Village architecture. The two-story base blends stone and brick, and the wedge-shaped building rises 14 stories above a predominantly low-rise district.

The Emery Roth-designed structure remains a rental building of primarily studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Emery Roth designed four other residences in Greenwich Village: 1 University Place, 28 E 10th Street (Devonshire House), 59 W 12th Street, and 299 W 12th Street.

10 Sheridan Square Vital Statistics
10 Sheridan Square Recommended Reading

Google Map

Google Earth aerial view

NoHo - Bayard Condict Building

NoHo (Manhattan)

NoHo – for NOrth of HOuston* Street (as contrasted with SoHo, SOuth of HOuston Street) is a landmarked, primarily residential upper-class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan. The district is wedged between Greenwich Village and the East Village. It is bounded by Broadway to the west and the Bowery to the east, and from East 9th Street in the north to East Houston Street in the south.

Through four separate designations (see below) in 1966, 1999, 2003, and 2008, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has preserved almost the entire district. Modern glass towers have sprouted up at the fringes, and even within the district – before the LPC could act.

* Attention, visitors: New Yorkers pronounce this as HOW-ston Street.

NoHo Recommended Reading
NoHo Buildings Pictured
Building / Address Year Architect
10 Astor Place aka 444 Lafayette Street 1876 Griffith Thomas
640 Broadway 1897 DeLemos & Cordes
700 Broadway 1891 George B. Post
Astor Place, 445 Lafayette Street 2005 Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates
Bayard-Condict Building, 65 Bleecker Street 1899 Louis H. Sullivan and Lyndon P. Smith
Bleecker Tower, 644 Broadway 1891 Decatur Hatch
Engine Company 33, 42 Great Jones Street 1898 Ernest Flagg, W.B. Chambers
Schermerhorn Building, 380 Lafayette Street 1888 Henry Janeway Hardenbergh

Google Map