Tag Archives: 1904

Ansonia Hotel

The Ansonia Hotel was built as a luxury residential hotel in 1904; today it’s a condominium with a quirky history and a commanding presence on Broadway at 73rd Street (just north of the Amsterdam Avenue crossover).

The developer, William Earle Dodge Stokes, filled the Ansonia Hotel with architectural innovations: it was steel framed, the first air-conditioned hotel, and had a lobby fountain – with live seals. What’s more, there was a short-lived roof-top “farm” that provided fresh eggs and milk! The architect, Paul E. M. Duboy, also designed sculptures for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (90th Street/Riverside Drive).

Architecturally, the Ansonia is classed as Beaux Arts style, with huge terra cotta decorations, Parisian-style Mansard roof and corner turret-towers. The building has New York City landmark status and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Of historical note, the building was once home to Continental Baths (gay baths where Bette Midler and Barry Manilow performed) and later (in the same space), swingers’ club Plato’s Retreat. Babe Ruth, Arturo Toscanini, Igor Stravinksy, and Enrico Caruso were among the Ansonia’s celebrated residents. And, while it’s of absolutely no architectural content, don’t miss “Movies, books, scandals, and stars” in the Wikipedia entry!

The building was converted to condominium in 1992.

Ansonia Hotel Vital Statistics
  • Location: 2101 Broadway between W 73rd and W 74th Streets
  • Year completed: 1904
  • Architect: Paul E. M. Duboy
  • Floors: 17
  • Style: Beaux Arts
  • New York City Landmark: 1972
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1980
Ansonia Hotel Suggested Reading

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Hotel Wolcott

Hotel Wolcott was built at the time when Herald Square was becoming New York’s “center of gravity” for entertainment, shopping, restaurants and hotels. While some prominent hotels were built on the avenues – Fifth Avenue and Broadway – mid-block properties offered quieter ambience without sacrificing convenience.

The Beaux Arts/Second Empire style was adopted for many hotels of the period. However, architect John H. Duncan designed Hotel Wolcott with oversized, flamboyant decoration to make it stand out on the mid-block location and to be unique among competitors.

John H. Duncan designed several NYC landmarks, the best-known of which are the General Ulysses S. Grant National Memorial (Grant’s Tomb) and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.

Hotel Wolcott Vital Statistics
  • Location: 4 W 31st Street, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway
  • Year completed: 1904
  • Architect: John H. Duncan
  • Floors: 12
  • Style: Beaux Arts
  • New York City Landmark: 2011
Hotel Wolcott Suggested Reading

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Red House

Red House is a rarity: A building designed by architects for themselves!

The building is a deluxe apartment house – larger, brighter and more elaborate than the “French Flats” designed for middle-class New Yorkers in the late 1800s. Elaborate ornamentation is one of the earmarks of luxury apartments; Harde & Short were particularly adept at the use of terra cotta in their designs (Alwyn Court on Seventh Avenue at 58th Street is a stunning example).

Harde and Short’s other New York buildings include the landmark Alwyn Court Apartments, Studio Building (44 W 77th Street), and 45 E 66th Street.

Red House Vital Statistics
Red House Recommended Reading

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The Lucerne Hotel is distinctive for its bold color as well as its bold Beaux Arts style and uptown location.

Opened in 1904 as the Hotel Lucerne, the building was converted to a condominium (not to be confused with Lucerne Apartments on East 79th Street). It’s a hotel again – with the name reversed to Lucerne Hotel.

During a 1999/2000 restoration, the owners replaced a missing cornice (on the Amsterdam Avenue facade) and refinished the terra cotta.

Lucerne Vital Statistics
Lucerne Recommended Reading

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Chatsworth Apartments and Annex

The Chatsworth Apartments and Annex are magnificent Beaux Arts buildings at the foot of West 72nd Street, overlooking the Hudson River and Riverside Park. The eight-story annex was built two years after the 12-story main building; the two are distinctively separate except for a unifying limestone base. Although not apparent from the front (W 72nd Street), the Chatsworth itself is two buildings. The second, with a less elaborate facade, is now visible only from W 71st Street. Donald Trump’s Harmony House condo (2003) blocks the buildings’ west facades, which used to overlook the abandoned West Side rail yard (and the Hudson River, beyond).

The most lavish of Chatsworth’s 66 apartments ranged from five to 15 rooms, which rented for $900 to $5,000 per year (1904 dollars!). The smaller Chatsworth Apartments Annex had one apartment per each of its eight floors.

Take time to read the Daytonian in Manhattan piece for some fascinating history; The New York Times three pieces detail tenants’ battles with the landlord and with Donald Trump.

Chatsworth Apartments and Annex Vital Statistics
Chatsworth Apartments and Annex Recommended Reading

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Hotel Seville

Hotel Seville – now known as The Carlton – was built in two sections. The first section was the 12-story limestone and brick building on the corner of Madison Avenue and E 29th Street; the second section was the 11-story western wing that extends from E 29th Street through to E 28th Street. The hotel’s main entrance was originally on E 29th Street, what is now the restaurant entrance; the new entry and lobby at 88 Madison Avenue is a modern addition. Gone is the rooftop sign.

Hotel Seville is just outside the Madison Square North Historic District (2001). The building did make it to the National Register of Historic Places, however, in 2005.

Harpo Marx reputedly worked as a bellhop at the Hotel Seville, and his experiences are said to have been incorporated in Marx Brothers skits.

Hotel Seville Vital Statistics
Hotel Seville Recommended Reading

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Whitehall Building

Whitehall Building is actually two buildings: the original 1904 20-story structure facing Battery Place, and a 1910 32-story annex directly behind that, facing West Street.

(A third building, added to the complex in 1972, is not included in this gallery. Now named One Western Union International Plaza, that 20-story office building was built in a completely different style and is now under different ownership.)

Whitehall Building was a little bit of a gamble – its location was two blocks off Broadway, the most desirable address. But the park across the street guaranteed unimpeded views; with lower-than-Broadway rents, the building was an immediate success. The owners, Robert and William Chesebrough, started buying up adjacent lots for an annex even before the first building was completed. (Robert Chesebrough was the inventor of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly.)

Henry J. Hardenbergh was the architect for the Whitehall Building. Among his prior commissions were the Dakota Apartments (1884), the original Waldorf (1895) and Astoria (1897) hotels, and the Western Union Telegraph Building (1884). His design for the Whitehall was quite colorful for the times and the location, including five different shades of brick and stone in the Battery Place facade.

The records don’t say why Hardenbergh wasn’t selected to design the annex – but it may have been because he was busy designing the Plaza Hotel. In any case, Clinton & Russell was selected for the job. Their annex, Greater Whitehall, was much larger than Whitehall Building; in fact, it was the largest office building in New York at the time.

The upper floors (14-31) of both buildings have now been converted to rental apartments – Ocean Luxury Residences.

Whitehall Building Vital Statistics
Whitehall Building Recommended Reading

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