Tag Archives: upper east side

40 E 62nd Street

40 East 62nd Street lights up the block with its colorful gold, blue and red terra cotta; bay windows and battlements suggest a medieval castle – (a man’s home, after all…).

The building is part of the Upper East Side Historic District, in fine company if you’re looking for historic residences.

Among the building’s wealthy and famous tenants was Henry Janeway Hardenburg, architect of the Plaza Hotel and The Dakota.

The New York Times Streetscapes column and Daytonian in Manhattan blog are excellent reads; the Daytonian blog includes old photos and floor plans.

40 E 62nd Street Vital Statistics
40 E 62nd Street Recommended Reading

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Colony Club

This is the second home of the Colony Club, the prestigious women’s social club that quickly outgrew its 1908 Stanford White-designed headquarters on Madison Avenue and E 31st Street. (Why didn’t White get to design the second club? He was shot by a jealous husband – but that’s another story.)

Like men’s clubs of the era, Colony Club was big on fitness facilities: the basement has what is said to be New York’s deepest indoor pool, a spa, and (via express elevator) a gymnasium and squash courts on the fifth floor. Other facilities included a ballroom and even a kennel for members’ pets.

Membership was (and still is) restricted to women – you must be recommended by a current member to be considered. Past members include Harrimans, Morgans, Astors and Rockefellers, to drop a few names.

Colony Club Vital Statistics
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Park East Synagogue

Park East Synagogue is an “especially imaginative” example of the Moorish Revival architecture popular for 19th century synagogues, in the words of New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“A detailed description of this complicated facade,” said the Commission, “cannot recreate the liveliness and imagination with which the elements are composed. A multitude of readings is possible and each element is used in an original and sometimes surprising context. Elements that have structural roles are used ornamentally and in conjunction with other elements in a unique manner, such as the frequent use of balusters in place of columns or piers in arcades. This inventiveness adds a playful, almost whimsical, note to the profusely ornamented facade which is reminiscent of the character, if not the detail, of Northern Renaissance architecture.”

The report notes that the towers were originally topped by bulbous domes (similar to Central Synagogue).

The building’s inventiveness fit the congregation, which founding Rabbi Bernard Drachman described as a “harmonious combination of Orthodox Judaism and Americanism.”

At the same time, the synagogue was a huge jump for the architects, Ernst Schneider and Henry Herter, whose main work had been tenements in the Lower East Side and Clinton.

Park East Synagogue Vital Statistics
Park East Synagogue Recommended Reading

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898 Park Avenue

Golden-hued 898 Park Avenue is a wonderful 14-story Romanesque building by the same architect who designed the 19-story Art Deco building across the street: both 1920s structures are luxury cooperative apartments.

(John Sloan also designed the Pershing Square Building, similar in color and style to 898 Park Avenue.)

The facade was restored in 2009; the building lost some of its original terra cotta decoration over the years, but what remains is still impressive and beautiful.

When built, 898 Park Avenue had just eight units according to Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan: Six full-floor duplex apartments on the upper floors, a one-floor apartment on the second floor, and a doctor’s suite on the ground floor. According to City Realty’s listing, the building is still limited to only 10 apartments.

At this writing (February 6, 2014), two of those apartments are available: A two-bedroom unit for $6 million and a four-bedroom apartment for $9 million.

898 Park Avenue Vital Statistics
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Millan House

Millan House (two Ls, please) is a pair of buildings spanning E 67th to E 68th Street, built around a private garden and adorned with a private zoo. If they were built on an avenue – Park or Lexington – this New York architecture would be well known; in their mid-block location they’re a pleasant surprise to passers-by.

The whimsical animals are carved stone, not terra cotta – the building was owned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., after all. The building is now a cooperative.

Millan House Vital Statistics
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640 Broadway

640 Broadway, designed by DeLemos & Cordes and completed in 1897, is the original Empire State Building – named for the bank that was housed on the ground floor.

DeLemos & Cordes would go on to design much grander buildings – notably the Keuffel & Esser Company Building, Siegel, Cooper & Co. Department Store, and the R.H. Macy & Co. Department Store at Herald Square.

The building’s original commercial tenants – including the Empire State Bank – have long since departed; a Swatch store now occupies the ground floor; upper floors have been converted to loft apartments.

640 Broadway Vital Statistics
640 Broadway Recommended Reading

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Memorial Sloan-Kettering Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center is a major expansion of previous lab facilities. The distinctive red-sliced slab tower accommodates a neighboring church, which provided the needed land and air rights.

The red terra cotta wall slices through the slab tower, separating laboratories in the western section from supporting offices in the eastern section. Each major facade has its own passive sun shade solution. Fritted glass panels shade the labs; aluminum-pipe louvers shade the offices.

The project had to be completed without disturbing ongoing research at the existing laboratories.

The base of the tower includes a rectory for St. Catherine of Siena Church.

See the architect’s project portfolio and design narrative for a detailed analysis.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center Vital Statistics
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center Recommended Reading

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Cherokee Apartments

Cherokee Apartments are beautiful – and beautifully maintained – apartments designed specifically for families with tuberculosis patients. Originally known as Shively Sanitary Tenements (aka East River Homes, aka Vanderbilt model tenements), the buildings have rare features you’ll probably never see elsewhere.

Dr. Henry Shively, a prominent physician who advocated home treatment of tuberculosis, persuaded Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt to endow $1.5 million to build and maintain a model healthful living environment. Henry Atterbury Smith designed the four interconnected buildings.

You might say the apartments are built of air – providing abundant fresh air dictated many design features. The roofs had open-air recreation facilities; most street-facing windows were triple-sash floor-to-ceiling affairs opening on to balconies – to encourage open-air sleeping. Gas stoves were all equipped with forced-air ventilating hoods; even the staircases were open-air. (The staircases were also notable for having two handrails – one for children, one for adults – and seats on each landing in case you needed to rest.) The “lobbies” are Guastavino tile-lined vaults open at each end.

The sanitary, airy housing was intended to alleviate living conditions of the poor. But no sooner than the buildings were completed, architect Henry A. Smith declared all such housing a failure. “The model tenements are too expensive. They are built for the very poor, but the very poor do not live in them. They can’t afford it,” declared Smith in a New York Times feature.

The New York Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor leased 48 of the 383 apartments as a “Home Hospital.” In 1923 the charitable trust that governed East River Homes was dissolved and the buildings sold to City and Suburban Homes Company. In the 1930s the rooftop recreational facilities were removed and apartments were extensively remodeled. In 1986 the buildings were converted to a co-op, and renamed Cherokee Apartments.

Cherokee Apartments Vital Statistics
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74 E 79th Street

74 E 79th Street is an oddity of New York architecture: Three landmark row houses gave their lives to let this 19-story tower rise.

The result was jeered by the “AIA Guide to New York City” as “A strange tower looms over Victorian town houses: Parisian Left Bank studios at the top, boredom at the waist, and a rich row of brick and brownstone along the street-front (all part of a zoning package).”

According to The New York Times’ account, the original developer got a Buildings Department permit to erect an 18-story apartment tower at 72 and 74 E 79th Street in 1980 – but demolition of the old buildings was delayed. In 1981 the Landmarks Preservation Commission created the Upper East Side Historic District, which includes those buildings. Meanwhile, new owners applied to change their plans; Department of Buildings agreed to the changes. Preservationists, including the LPC, cried foul and sued to stop work.

The plot thickens: City Council passed the “sliver law” prohibiting ultra-narrow buildings. The proposed structure didn’t meet “sliver law” standards, so the project came to a screeching halt. By the time that the Department of Buildings was able to green-light the project – but back with the original plans – the partner with the financing lost interest.

The owner of 76 E 79th Street then swooped in, buying the unbuildable lots next door. The new three-lot site was now wide enough to satisfy the “sliver law” and a new tower plan was devised to incorporate the historic row house facades.

74 E 79th Street Vital Statistics
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12 E 87th Street

12 East 87th Street, aka The Capitol, is a stunning example of George & Edward Blum’s textured designs. The eight-story luxury building is hidden mid-block between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

The Capitol is clad in glazed white terra cotta and Roman brick, with deep-set windows and remnants of a prominent terra cotta cornice (the upper part of the cornice was removed, but the supporting brackets remain). A dry moat in front includes stairs to the basement level. The black railing in front was originally all brass, matching the entrance, but pieces were stolen over the years, and replaced with galvanized steel.

The original whole-floor apartments boasted 14 rooms and four baths. Each apartment’s four main “public” rooms – the living room, dining room, reception room and salon – were interconnected to provide a 40-foot by 50-foot space for entertaining. In 1935 and 1943, the owners subdivided the eight apartments into 32 units. (See the Street Easy listing for current floor plans.)

The building became a cooperative in 1985.

12 East 87th Street Vital Statistics
12 East 87th Street Recommended Reading

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