Tag Archives: Schwartz & Gross

215 W 75th Street

215 W 75th Street, aka Majestic Towers, is a sedate Upper West Side cooperative now – but it roared in the ’20s as a brothel and speakeasy!

According to a history originally published on the building’s now-dormant website, the structure was designed as a bordello. Celebrities and celebrated madam Polly Adler called this home. During police raids, patrons could escape via reputed “secret” staircases. (Naysayers pooh-pooh the idea, and say the stairs were just fire escapes required by the building code of the time.)

Architecturally, the building follows the traditional base-shaft-crown organization. The three-story crown is the most expressive feature, with white terra cotta decoration.

Majestic Towers became a cooperative in 1989.

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336 Central Park West

336 Central Park West is a modest Art Deco apartment building that you might pass without thought – unless you looked up. The undulating, gently flared cornices on the building and its tower enclosures are embossed in an Egyptian reed pattern that is both simple and stunning.

You might also notice the thoughtful polychrome brickwork, with its projecting piers and segmented spandrels, which emphasize the building’s height.

Alas, over the years the cooperative has spoiled the design and created a stew of replacement windows – casements, double-hung, sliders in a variety of single and multi-pane configurations. Through-wall air conditioning vents are also done in different styles. Even the ground floor doors are mismatched.

336 Central Park West Vital Statistics
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241 Central Park West

241 Central Park West is easily confused with 55 Central Park West – they were both designed by Schwartz & Gross; what’s more, the developer of record is 55 Central Park West Corp. (according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission).

The brick and cast stone facade takes up the entire blockfront between W 84th and W 85th Street. Protruding decorative elements – flowering stalks of some kind – decorate the building’s base and crown; otherwise the structure is quite plain.

The building is not without fans – you can even order a pewter model! (see below)

241 Central Park West Vital Statistics
241 Central Park West Recommended Reading

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55 Central Park West

55 Central Park West, among the first Art Deco apartment houses on the avenue, has become known as the “Ghostbusters Building.” In the 1984 movie, the building is attributed to insane architect Ivo Shandor.

Schwartz & Gross, the real architects, must be spinning in their graves. They designed an innovative brick, stone and terra cotta structure that changes color as it rises, from dark red to white. Massive fluted projections in the base and as finials at the setbacks emphasize the building’s vertical lines.

Inside, 55 CPW was fairly modest: apartments ranged from three to six rooms on lower floors. But all apartments had the innovation of a sunken living room.

Upper floors have larger apartments – including a massive 12-room duplex penthouse that sold for $35 million in 2013.

55 Central Park West Vital Statistics
55 Central Park West Recommended Reading

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The Clebourne (Cleburne) stands out, even on an avenue of standout architecture; its ornate facade and porte-cochere give the building an elegant presence. (Alas, stanchions block what was once a drive-through entrance.)

Each floor has five apartments of six to nine rooms; layouts are old-fashioned, with some very long hallways, galleries, maid’s rooms and servant’s entrances.

Of historical note, Clebourne is on the site of a former mansion owned by Isador and Ida Straus. Isador Straus was a co-owner of Macy’s; he and his wife perished with the Titanic. A memorial to the couple is in Straus Park, one block north.

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101 Central Park West

101 Central Park West is a prestigious address, referred to as a “white glove” cooperative where apartments still include maids’ rooms, elevators still have operators, and price tags are in the millions. It’s plainer than some other famous Central Park West addresses – possibly because it was built during the Great Depression.

101 Central Park West Vital Statistics
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1185 Park Avenue

1185 Park Avenue is one of a handful of luxury New York apartment houses built around a central courtyard – and the only one of note without a name. (You’ve probably heard of the others: The Dakota, Apthorp, Belnord and Graham Court.) The architects, Schwartz & Gross, specialized in hotels and apartment buildings and were known for exceptional apartment layout.

There are 12 apartments to a floor (though some have been combined) arrayed around the courtyard. Six separate lobbies serve those apartments, so that each elevator landing has only two apartments. The NY Curbed archive takes a peek at some of 1185 Park’s multi-million-dollar homes.

If you Google “1185 Park Avenue,” many of the results will refer to the book of that name, a memoir of Annie Roiphe. That’s getting off the subject of architecture, but her tale is a reminder that money and plush surroundings aren’t everything. So don’t feel bad that you don’t live here.

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