Tag Archives: second empire


The Kenilworth has an impressive entry flanked by banded columns reminiscent of the Prasada and the Lucerne. Last of the Second Empire-style buildings to be built on Central Park West, remarkably the structure looks unchanged from 1908, except that the wood-frame windows were replaced.

Even the interiors have been preserved. Architectural historian Andrew Alpern wrote, “The Kenilworth has three apartments on each floor, two of which are of a modified long-hall variety. While not exceptional in their planning or appointments, these suites have been kept surprisingly intact.” (New York’s Fabulous Luxury Apartments: With Original Floor Plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower and Other Great Buildings)

Overshadowed by neighboring San Remo apartments, the 12-story Kenilworth was built without the benefit of a steel frame, or the 1929 building code that liberalized residential height restrictions. The structure’s limestone and red brick walls actually hold the building up, they’re not just for appearance.

Speaking of appearance, the heavy contrasting ornamentation and copper-trimmed slate mansard roof give the building presence beyond its mere dozen stories. The two-story columns and dry moat are just icing on the cake.

The Kenilworth was converted to a cooperative in 1957.

Kenilworth Vital Statistics
Kenilworth Recommended Reading

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Gilsey House Hotel

Gilsey House Hotel is one of the last reminders that this stretch of Broadway – between Madison Square and Herald Square – was the social center of the city. There were six theaters on the three blocks between 28th and 31st Streets; so many music publishers were on neighboring 28th Street, the sound of their pianos gave rise to the name “Tin Pan Alley.” A block west, meanwhile, was the notorious “Tenderloin” district of brothels and gambling clubs.

The Gilsey House Hotel was among the most luxurious in the city, but a legal battle between the Gilsey family and the hotel operator shut the property down. In 1911 the Gilsey House Hotel became lofts serving the garment industry. In 1980 the building was converted to condominium apartments, and the facade was restored in 1992 – though missing most of the outer set of columns, which had extended over the building line. (See the Wikipedia article for a photo of the original design.)

Gilsey House Hotel Vital Statistics
Gilsey House Hotel Recommended Reading

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The Langham is an elegant bookmark separating the more famous Dakota (to the south) and San Remo. The building is a restrained Beaux Arts / French Second Empire; the lower 10 floors are dignified rusticated limestone and brick, with restrained decoration and Juliette balconies. The 11th floor is more heavily decorated, and the 12 and 13th floors – in the mansard roof – are the most elaborate.

Originally, the building had just four apartments per floor: Each a luxury home that included three or four bedrooms, two servant’s rooms, library, living room, and dining room. All were entered via an elegant foyer (or if you were a servant or tradesman, via a back service elevator). The Langham touted a central refrigeration system to provide ice to each apartment (before mechanical refrigerators), mail delivery via conveyor belt, and a central vacuum cleaning system. A carriageway on W 73rd Street provided access via a back lobby. More importantly, in the days before air conditioning, each apartment had windows facing in four directions, thanks to three light courts along the back (west) side.

The building now has 64 units. But the apartments now range from two to eight bedrooms (a combination of a five-bedroom and a three-bedroom), with rents ranging from $4,250 to $60,000 per month. In 2008, The Gawker listed The Langham as one of the 20 most expensive rentals in New York City.

The Langham has had more than its share of celebrity tenants: Irving Bloomingdale, vice president (and son of the founder) of Bloomingdale’s; Isadore Saks, with his son, Joseph. Isadore Saks founded Saks & Company; Martin Beck, head of the Orpheum theater chain, who built the Palace Theater; Edward F. Albee, head of the Keith and Keith-Albee-Orpheum theater chains and grandfather of the playwright Edward Albee; Lee Strasberg, the actor and teacher. Last, but not least, actress Mia Farrow had an 11-room apartment in The Langham, which was used in the filming of Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.”

The Langham Vital Statistics
The Langham Recommended Reading

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