Tag Archives: upper west side

444 Central Park West

444 Central Park West is a distinctive Manhattan Valley apartment building that easily dominates the block. The 19-story Romanesque structure towers over its six- and seven-story neighbors, and its inventive facade of brick and terra cotta over a limestone base stands out from the crowd.*

The design is the work of Emery Roth alumni Russell Boak and Hyman Paris. The duo were active 1927-1942, with their most noteworthy work designed in the late 1930s.

The building was converted to a co-op in 1976.

* Not that Manhattan Valley is dull. A block north, the landmarked former New York Cancer Hospital is a stunning condo conversion.

444 Central Park West Vital Statistics
444 Central Park West Recommended Reading

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The Dakota – A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building

The Dakota – and indeed NYC apartment life – is beautifully illuminated by Andrew Alpern’s new “History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building.” The noted architectural historian presents the most comprehensive history of The Dakota imaginable! Mr. Alpern documents the building, its builder (and family!), the architect, the neighborhood, the architectural and historical context, and even the Dakota’s residents. Fascinating reading that illuminates not only The Dakota, but also the world of apartment living in New York City.

I’m deeply honored by Mr. Alpern’s use of my photography (from the Dakota Apartments gallery) in this volume.

Riverside Memorial Chapel

Riverside Memorial Chapel is suitably somber, suitably monumental for a funeral home. The structure is actually two buildings: The smaller 180 W 76th Street was given a new facade and joined to 331 Amsterdam Avenue in 1946.

The building underwent renovation and restoration in 1994-1998.

Riverside Memorial Chapel Vital Statistics
Riverside Memorial Chapel Recommended Reading

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235 W 76th Street

235 W 76th Street, aka The Colorado,* is a pre-war apartment building in Renaissance Revival style, enlivened by colorful terra cotta in the base and crown.

The building’s architect – Robert T. Lyons – is best known for his Beaux Arts masterpiece on Central Park West, the St. Urban.

* Not to be confused with the same-named Upper East Side condo.

235 W 76th Street Vital Statistics
235 W 76th Street Recommended Reading

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334 Amsterdam Avenue

334 Amsterdam Avenue, aka Samuel Priest Rose Building, is the home of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. The gray brick and blue glass cube is striking; its materials, style and colors stand out on an avenue dominated by earth-tone classic masonry structures.

The building’s recreational facilities – including a gymnasium and tenth-floor swimming pool – created unusual design challenges.

Architectural trivia: The center’s after-school activities include construction classes for budding architects! Dubbed “Crazy Constructions,” the program lets 6- and 7-year-olds “Design and build towers, bridges, houses, rollercoasters, and other superstructures. Join Dazzling Discoveries as you explore and experiment with plastic bricks, wood, paper, and many other materials. Students will learn about engineering, architecture, and physics while inventing and creating their own toys and projects.”

334 Amsterdam Avenue Vital Statistics
334 Amsterdam Avenue Recommended Reading

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The Laureate

The Laureate is a modern condominium in a neighborhood dominated by landmark buildings almost a century older. The building is striking for its rounded corner, plentiful, ornate balconies, and sparkling white facades.

The Laureate Vital Statistics
The Laureate Recommended Reading

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Beacon Hotel and Theater

Beacon Hotel and Theater share a Broadway facade, but it’s the theater’s interior that keeps getting rave reviews. Conceived as part of the Roxy theater chain, the showplace was described by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) as “…a lavish space with stylistic effects drawn from the traditions of Greek, Roman, Renaissance, and Rococo architecture.”

The buildings are a collaboration of Samuel L. Rothafel – better known as Roxy – and The Chanin Construction Company. LPC explains, “Undoubtedly pleased with the success of combining three theaters with the Hotel Lincoln, thereby providing common building services for all, the Chanins saw a combination theater-hotel structure to be a logical solution for the site.”

Alas, Roxy’s plans did not pan out. Warner Bros. Pictures wound up with the theater lease. The Beacon continued as a movie theater until 1974, when the programs switched to live performances. The LPC designated the interior a landmark in 1979. In 1986 developers wanted to convert the Beacon to a disco – plans that were halted by a judge who said the conversion would irreparably harm the landmark’s architecture. Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s parent company, Cablevision, leased the Beacon in 2006. Cablevision restored the theater at a reported cost of $10 million. Madison Square Garden Company now manages the Beacon.

P.S. It’s called Beacon Hotel because of an airplane beacon on the roof.

Beacon Hotel and Theater Vital Statistics
Beacon Hotel and Theater Recommended Reading

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West End Avenue (W 76 – W 86)

West End Avenue – the stretch of 11th Avenue above W 59th Street – is one of New York’s architectural time capsules. The avenue boasts four historic districts, from W 70th Street to W 94th Street. The West End Preservation Society even argued that the entire avenue should be an historic district.

Personally, I find this half-mile section between W 76th and W 86th to be the most picturesque.

West End Avenue Selected Buildings

Odd-numbered buildings are on the west side of the avenue; even-numbered buildings are on the east side.

West End Avenue Recommended Reading

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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.

215 W 75th Street Vital Statistics
215 W 75th Street Recommended Reading

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Lincoln Square

The Lincoln Square neighborhood got its name in May 1906, but it took the Lincoln Center Redevelopment project to really put the area on the map. The 1955 public/private urban renewal project turned a slum into a cultural complex. Some fifty years later, the center was renovated and extended with the addition of less formal features, such as the Illumination Lawn and the plaza, grandstand and cafe on Broadway between West 65th and West 66th Streets.

The project’s enduring flaw is the lack of mass transit: A single subway stop – and a local stop at that – serves Lincoln Center.

Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus occupies two square blocks south of Lincoln Center; Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School and Martin Luther King, Jr. High School occupy two blocks west of Lincoln Center. Capital Cities/ABC has a cluster of four buildings at Columbus Avenue and West 66th Street. Retail culture – in the form of Tower Records and Barnes and Noble – used to be Lincoln Center’s neighbors on opposite sides of Broadway at West 66th; they’ve been succeeded by Raymour & Flanigan furniture and Century 21 discount department store.

The slide show begins with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, then continues with the Lincoln Square neighborhood outside Lincoln Center.

Lincoln Square and Lincoln Center Suggested Reading

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