Tag Archives: upper east side

126 E 66 Street

126 E 66 Street is memorable for its Roman brick arches and massive wood doors. The picturesque three-story residence is directly across the street from the Seventh Regiment Armory (aka Park Avenue Armory), built 17 years prior.

According to NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission research, the building “Replaced a rowhouse built in the 1870’s. Built as a stable, coach house, and residence for coachman’s family. Henry 0. Havemeyer, who commissioned the stable, lived at 1 East 66th Street. After its completion, he sold it to Oliver H. Payne, brother-in-law of William C. Whitney.” The building was sold to John Hay Whitney and at this writing is still in the Whitney family.

An article in Curbed NY points out that the building is only a remnant of the original structure. As built, the coach house and stables extended to the site of 122-124 E 66 Street.

Havemeyer, who commissioned the building, was the prominent Domino Sugar magnate for whom the Brooklyn Street is named.

126 E 66 Street Vital Statistics
126 E 66 Street Recommended Reading

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215 E 68th Street

215 E 68th Street found the Fountain of Youth. The 33-story apartment tower was built in 1962 with a then-popular white brick facade. But time was not kind. Not only did white brick become passé; after 50 years, the brickwork needed extensive repair or replacement. Owners opted to tear down the brick and replace it with white terra cotta panels accented by bands of black and gray.

Terra cotta reigned as the decorative material of choice from 1880 through the 1950s. Sometimes whole buildings – notably the Woolworth Building and Alwyn Court Apartments – were clad in the material. Then International Style and Postmodernism replaced masonry with glass and steel, and terra cotta all but disappeared.

In 215 E 68th Street, the material finds a second life – as a replacement for brick. Facade designer BCRA explained, “New terracotta cladding is approximately 1/3 the weight of new brick and has no mortar joints or seals that will require future maintenance. The new system design reduced the amount of fasteners by 50%, which helped to keep construction noise during installation to a minimum for residents. The cavity within the new overcladding uses an air gap and 3″ insulation that greatly improved the thermal performance of the new wall by over three times the original.”

The result is a distinctive apartment building with the appearance of new construction. Now if only we aging apartment dwellers could change our skin….

215 E 68th Street Vital Statistics
215 E 68th Street Recommended Reading

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Sherry Netherland

The Sherry Netherland must be bored by now with all of the superlatives lavished upon it. But if actions speak louder than words, consider this: a Sherry Netherland 18th floor apartment recently went on the market (September 2012) for $95 million. (To tell the whole truth, that’s the entire 18th floor – 7,000 square feet plus 2,000 square feet of terrace – seven bedrooms/seven baths – but still: $95 million!)

The Sherry Netherland is not, oddly enough, a New York City landmark unto itself (although the clock in front of the hotel is – go figure); it is part of the Upper East Side Historic District, along with the Hotel Pierre, Metropolitan Club, and other classics. The 40-story building was the tallest apartment-hotel in New York when built, in 1927.

The structure’s design was a collaboration of New York-based architects Shultze & Weaver and Buchman & Kahn. Shultze & Weaver specialized in luxury hotels such as the Pierre and Waldorf-Astoria. The French Gothic/French Renaissance tower is among New York’s most distinctive spires, hiding a water tank above the gargoyles. There is an observation platform at the very top – though you’d have to be brave and a climber to reach it!

While the Sherry Netherland’s public personna is a hotel, it has only 54 rooms and suites; 165 co-op apartments make up the bulk of the building.

Sherry Netherland Vital Statistics
  • Location: 751 Fifth Avenue at E 59th Street
  • Year completed: 1927
  • Architect: Shultze & Weaver and Buchman & Kahn
  • Floors: 48
  • Style: French Gothic/French Renaissance
Sherry Netherland Suggested Reading

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Ukrainian Institute (Harry F. Sinclair House)

The Ukrainian Institute (aka Harry F. Sinclair House, originally Isaac D. and Mary Fletcher House) is among the last of the Fifth Avenue mansions. It was designed by prominent architect C.P.H. Gilbert and has had a succession of famous owners. The carved stone ornaments are a menagerie of dragons, reptiles, and urchins – that have absolutely nothing to do with Ukrainian culture.

The house is open to the public, so you can tour the inside – just check the Ukrainian Institute’s website for details. Or, enjoy a virtual tour courtesy of Scouting New York.

Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert (no relation to Cass Gilbert) is well known for his opulent townhouses and mansions. Several other C.P.H. Gilbert mansions are nearby. See the architect’s Wikipedia reference for more details.

Ukrainian Institute Vital Statistics
Ukrainian Institute Recommended Reading

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The Carlyle

The Carlyle Hotel and Carlyle House are next door neighbors on Madison Avenue, both designed by architects Bien & Prince and so closely matched you might not notice that they’re separate buildings. The hotel has the 40-story green-and-gilt-capped tower – and gilt-edged history to go with it.

The yellow brick and limestone buildings had an inauspicious start: Just two years after their 1930 opening, the hotel and apartment building were auctioned off, victims of the 1929 stock market crash. New owners kept the properties afloat financially, and in 1948 sold to Robert Whittle Downing. Downing is credited with turning The Carlyle into an elegant, fashionable address.

U.S. Presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton visited The Carlyle, but President Kennedy made it the “New York White House.” He had purchased an apartment in The Carlyle’s tower when he was a Senator. You can spot the apartment today by the breakfast nook that sticks out of the north side of the tower.

Kennedy wasn’t alone in modifying the tower – scan the facades and you’ll find a number of irregular windows.

Today, the hotel tower contains 180 guest rooms and suites, and 60 privately owned residences. The apartment building has 43 residences.

The Carlyle Vital Statistics
The Carlyle Recommended Reading

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Barbizon Hotel for Women

Barbizon Hotel for Women, now known as the condominium apartments Barbizon 63, was built as a residential hotel catering to young professionals.

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) added the building to its roster in April 2012, noting that the structure is “an excellent representative of the 1920s apartment hotel building, and is notable for the high quality of its design.”

The zoning law of 1916 required setbacks – indented upper floors – on tall buildings to permit more light to reach the street. Complex arcades and courtyards in Barbizon Hotel’s setback design add visual interest to the tower. The complex brickwork, with a mix of colors and corbelling, adds visual rich texture, even from a distance.

Hotels for women were the ladies’ answer to late-1800s “bachelor flats” for men (e.g., The Wilbraham), and completed the quaint (by today’s standards) segregation of residences: for families, for single men, and for single women. (See also Beekman Tower Hotel, the former Panhellenic Tower.) See the LPC designation report for a great synopsis of New York City’s housing variety: tenements, apartments, french flats, rooming houses, residence and club hotels.

The first owners lost the hotel through foreclosure, but a second group led by Lawrence Elliman was able to show a profit by 1938. Quite a few now-famous women lived at the Barbizon through the mid-70s – by which time the hotel was again losing money. Between 1980 and 2001 the hotel changed hands five times, and then in 2005 it was converted to condominium apartments.

Barbizon Hotel for Women Vital Statistics
Barbizon Hotel for Women Recommended Reading

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210 E 68th Street

There are plenty of more imposing buildings on Third Avenue – Trump Palace is on the next block – but 210 E 68th Street stands out at street level because of its colorful Art Deco accents and orange brickwork.

The 1929 apartment building was designed by George and Edward Blum, prolific architects who have more than 120 apartment buildings to their credit (not even counting their office and loft buildings). Alas, this was one of their last two buildings (the other is at 235 East 22nd Street).

The New York Times architecture critic Christopher Gray suggests a rationale for these apartments’ unusual color and decoration: “Perhaps because [the Blums] were fighting the hulking Third Avenue elevated train nearby, they used giant zigzag stripes of contrasting brick running across the front like World War I naval camouflage.” (The Third Avenue El was closed in 1955.)

210 E 68th Street Vital Statistics
210 E 68th Street Recommended Reading

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Seventh Regiment Armory

Seventh Regiment Armory, aka Park Avenue Armory, was home of the “Silk Stocking Regiment” – militia that put down at least five riots in the city*, served in the War of 1812 and was the first militia to enlist for Civil War duty. The building’s military use is now mostly ceremonial; it has been leased (since 2006) to the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy, the arts group credited with rescuing the block-sized landmark from official neglect.

NYC – The Official Guide dubbed the armory “the ultimate boys’ club” because the affluent members of the Seventh Regiment built themselves an elegant home, enlisting the talents of Tiffany, Stanford White and other prominent designers of the day. It doesn’t show on the outside, but interiors were richly paneled and painted, and contained valuable artwork. Why? Because the armory (built with private, not government funds) served as a social club as well as a drill hall and weapons cache. The main drill hall, meanwhile, was among America’s first (and is the oldest surviving) “balloon shed” structures, spanning one of the largest unobstructed interiors in New York City. As a result, the building and its interiors were designated as NYC landmarks.

The building and its occupants have a rich and well-documented history – the links below are a good starting place. Also, Park Avenue Armory has public tours – information and reservations here.

* The “Right to bear arms” Second Amendment at work: The New York Times Streetscapes column noted, “When the armory was completed in 1880, Scribner’s Monthly recounted that the Seventh had served in putting down the abolition riots of 1834, the stevedore riots of 1836, the flour riots of 1837, the Croton water riots of 1840 and the Astor Place riots of 1849, in which 30 demonstrators were killed and 141 of the 200 soldiers called out were injured.”

Seventh Regiment Armory Vital Statistics
Seventh Regiment Armory Recommended Reading

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Engine 39 / Ladder 16

The Fire Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Station House originally served as the headquarters of the New York Fire Department. It’s the third of four late-1880s landmarks in a row on E 67th Street.*

Napoleon Lebrun & Son, which designed more than 40 buildings for the department, designed this one in Romanesque Revival style. While Lebrun’s design included space for the Fire Commissioners and staff, the headquarters outgrew its space and moved to the Municipal Building in 1914. The fire telegraph (communications system) moved out in 1922. A lookout tower once topped the building’s right-hand bay (the section with single windows) – but was removed in 1949. The building became a training center, but by 1970 the city had planned to demolish the building. In 1980 the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building as one of four landmarks on the block – but the Board of Estimate overturned the designation (and that of the adjoining police station). In the end, compromise: The facades of the fire house and police station were preserved and restored (1992), but new structures were built behind the 1880s face. The police precinct now uses the upper floors of the fire station.

(Unconfirmed scuttlebutt has it that “some 3 letter agency” operates/operated out of the building, which is directly across the street from an Eastern-bloc mission. Keep that under your hat.)

You might also enjoy Napoleon LeBrun’s Engine Company 31 on Lafayette Street, in a different architectural style – considered his most flamboyant fire house design.

*The four E 67th Street landmarks are: Mount Sinai Dispensary (now Kennedy Child Study Center) at 149; 19th (originally 25th) Police Precinct at 153; Engine Company 39/Ladder Company 16 Station House at 157; and Park East Synagogue, 163.

Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Vital Statistics
Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Recommended Reading

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19th Precinct

The 19th Precinct Station House is the second of four late-1880s landmarks in a row on the north side of E 67th Street – and now actually joined to the third, a fire station house.*

The building was conceived in 1883 as the home of the 28th Precinct – which then covered the area from E 58th to E 79th Streets, from Central Park to the East River and Roosevelt Island (then known as Blackwell’s Island). By the time that construction was underway in 1886, the Precinct had been renumbered (25th) and its territory extended a block south to E 57th Street. The unit was renumbered again in 1908 (31st Precinct), 1924 (10A Precinct), and 1929 (19th Precinct).

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated this (and three adjacent buildings) as landmarks in 1980, but the Board of Estimate overturned the designation for the Precinct and neighboring fire house. The city’s plan: Demolish and rebuild. (The separate jail, behind the station house, had been demolished in 1974.) An alternate plan was devised in 1990 that saved the fronts of the precinct and fire house, and built new rear portions that joined the two structures. The precinct now uses upper floors of the adjacent fire house (which originally had been used as NYFD headquarters).

*The four E 67th Street landmarks are: Mount Sinai Dispensary (now Kennedy Child Study Center) at 149; 19th (originally 25th) Police Precinct at 153; Engine Company 39/Ladder Company 16 Station House at 157; and Park East Synagogue, 163.

19th Precinct Vital Statistics
19th Precinct Recommended Reading

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