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Archive for August 2010

Emery Roth’s Central Park West “El Dorado, Beresford, San Remo”

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I’ve recently had a chance to read a full account of Emery Roth’s life as an architect in the early 20th Century. “Mansions in the Clouds” by Steven Ruttenbaum gives an in-depth account of the famous buildings around the city that Roth designed. There are many worthwhile buildings to mention on Park and Fifth,
Sutton and Beekman, but I have chosen to focus on Central Park West, as three of his most famous creations are on that avenue; The El Dorado, The Beresford and The San Remo. Roth himself at one point lived in the Hotel Alden at 225 Central Park West, which nowadays has been converted to a co-op called the Alden. CPW deeply appealed to Roth for one reason or another, and we are fortunate to have such architecturally significant buildings in close proximity to each other.  The skyline that these buildings create is one of the reasons that eastsiders on Fifth Ave. value their views so much.

The least Roth-like building of these three would be the El Dorado located at 300 Central Park West between 90th and  91st Streets.  Roth only served as associate architect on this venture, with the main architect being Margon & Holder. Nonetheless, there are many features of the El Dorado that are clearly Roth inspired,  such as the twin towers which were modeled after the twin towers of the San Remo being built at around the same time.

The El Dorado was geared to appeal to a more middle-class and less affluent cliental. The apartment layouts were smaller and the outside styling was very Art Deco/modern, appealing to a less conservative crowd. The El Dorado was in essence “New Money” while the classical design and layouts of the San Remo as well as the Beresford were “Old Money”.  The variations are slight and the El Dorado till this day continues to be one of the finest Art Deco structures in this city with certain apartments selling for over 10 million.

Going down the avenue we come to the Beresford located at 211 CPA between 81st and 82nd Streets. At the time of its completion in 1929, it was the largest apartment house built to date. The Beresford took its name from the Hotel Beresford, which had previously occupied the site since 1889. There are three entrance awnings just as there are three majestic towers (one being the home to John McEnroe). The Beresford is unique in the fact that it has two major facades; the east-side facing Central Park West, and the south-side facing the park that is part of the American Museum of Natural History. This allows for at least half of the residents to have spectacular views. Ruttenbaum called the Beresford “an impregnable medieval fortress”. One thing is for sure, it’s a building you never overlook nor tire of admiring. If you are so lucky as to ever have a chance to pass through any of the three entrance lobbies, you’ll notice the “marble halls of your dizziest dreams”. The term opulent is an understatement, but for the pre-Depression era, such excess in luxury apartment living was the norm. There are 22 Floors in this building and about 175 apartments.

The 19th Floor alone has stars such as Jerry Seinfeld and Glenn Close, although Glenn is reportedly trying to sell her pad which once was owned by Rock Hudson. Earlier this year in January, Glenn’s apartment #19D was listed for $11.8 million only to be slashed to 10.8 million in March.  Somewhat mysteriously Glenn took it off the market for the time being. It’s only a two-bedroom, 2.5 bath for crying out loud. The outdoor terrace space is what you’re really paying for so their comes a point when you have to ask yourself, is it really worth the extra couple of million?

Located at 145-146 CPW between 74th and 75th Streets,  the San Remo, rather than looking like a medieval fortress along the lines of the Beresford, is more akin to a medieval cathedral. It was the first apartment building in New York to be built incorporating twin towers. Having served as the inspiration for Roth’s other work the El Dorado, the San Remo also inspired  two other CPW buildings not designed by Roth; The “Majestic” and the “Century”.

Famous residents who have at one time made the San Remo their home include Steven Spielberg (13th Floor), Demi Moore (South Tower duplex), Glenn Close (before she moved to the Beresford), Steve Jobs (bought his north tower duplex in 1982), Barry Manilow (who subletted his apartment to Raquel Welch), Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin and Rita Hayworth (who lived out the remaining years of her life in the building).


Written by agnesbstanton

August 22, 2010 at 9:34 am

Posted in Co-ops, Upper West Side

927 Fifth Ave. (Pale Male’s Home)

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So you might be wondering who Pale Male is as he’s not a typical resident. For one thing he doesn’t live in a respectable 14 room layout, nor will the co-op board comment on why they had to evict him at one point. He did after-all come back to live in the building, having bypassed the co-op board entirely. This little fellow sure has clout. After his friends came out to support him, the co-op had no choice but to let him back into his penthouse.

For those of you who do not know, Pale Male is a red-tailed hawk and quite the celebrity. He’s 19 years old and has made 927 Fifth Avenue his home since 1993. During his exciting life he has found the time to father 26 offspring and has had quite a number of girlfriends, beginning with “First Love” to his current mate “Lola”. Pale Male is the first known red-tailed  hawk to have nested on a building rather than in a tree, and he sure picked a good address at that.

Other lesser-known celebrities, who have made  927 Fifth Avenue their home, include real estate developer Richard Cohen and his now ex-wife CNN anchor Paula Zahn (8th Floor), as well as Mary Tyler Moore who moved out in 2005. Investment banker Bruce Wasserstein once lived here. His 11th Floor apartment was bought by the developer Will Zeckendorf,  only to be put on the market a few months later. It has yet to sell and is listed for $31.5 million. Pale Male’s eviction notice came in December 2004 but he was soon back three weeks later and has stayed ever since.

927 Fifth Ave. is located on the southeast corner of 74th St. right across from Central Park’s model-boat pond. Designed by architects Warren and Wetmore and completed in 1917, this limestone clad pre-war was built in the Renaissance Revival style and has 12 Floors and only 12 apartments.

Written by agnesbstanton

August 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

Posted in Co-ops, Upper East Side