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The Former Barbizon Hotel Gains Landmark Status

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The Barbizon Hotel Gains Landmark Status

During a seething summer evening in 1953, Lexington Avenue on the corner of 63rd Street received a sprinkling of clothing, an entire wardrobe really, thrown from the rooftop of the Barbizon Hotel. The intoxicated young woman, demonstrating her unhappiness during her last night in the city, was Sylvia Plath. Her summer stay at the Barbizon Hotel would later figure prominently in her most famous autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar.

The Barbizon hotel’s story begins in 1926 when it was built specifically as a “Club Residence for Professional Women”. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that its reputation blossomed as THE hotel for young single and gorgeous females. There were other hotels in New York City specifically for women, but the Barbizon stood apart, namely due to its exclusivity. A woman had to have two letters of recommendation along with impeccable manners and dress in order to be allowed a room at this semi-dormitory style hotel.

Between 1940-1970, such famous names as Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Liza Minnelli, Cybill Shepherd, Candice Bergen, Joan Didion, and Betsey Johnson made the Barbizon their home. Eileen Ford who ran the Ford Modeling Agency regularly rented rooms at the Barbizon for many of her models. In the 2010 April issue of Vanity Fair, the author Michael Callahan describes it well; “If the Barbizon had a face, it was that of Grace Kelly in “Rear Window”: A-Line dresses, opera gloves, and smart pillbox hats with netting”.

With so many beautiful and talented women in one building, it was no wonder men were always trying to find a way to sneak it. Security would not allow them above the first floor, but with enough motivation, some would try posing as a doctor or father to gain entry. The hotel officially started to admit men in 1981 as times were changing and all-women’s hotels were a thing of the past.

Nowadays, this former hotel is known as “Barbizon 63” after its conversion to condos in 2006. The insides have been gutted and refurbished and one would need a pretty penny in order to own an apartment there. Nonetheless, it will always be a city icon, symbolizing a safe retreat for career women during most of its existence. The recent landmark status it gained this past April will keep its beautiful coral brick façade from changing and its memory from becoming a pretty thing of the past.
Barbizon Hotel Gains Landmark Status

Written by agnesbstanton

July 7, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Posted in Condos, Upper East Side

132 E. 65th St. “The Touraine”

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February 13th, 2012

April 8th, 2012

The difference a couple of weeks makes in the world of construction can be very profound especially in NYC, where a new floor goes up every week or two in some developments. The Touraine is a wonderful example of very solid yet frighteningly fast construction. The Toll Brothers are the developers behind this condo on the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and 65th St. where the manor house called Crocodile Hall once stood. Due to the location being just outside the landmark district, the Toll Brothers were able to tear down the former 1920’s house designed by architect J. Stewart Barney who also resided there.

When finished, the Touraine will have 22 apartments and will be 15 stories tall. The quality is top-notch and is being marketed to a somewhat empty nester crowd as well as international buyers looking for pied-a-terres (very expensive ones I might add). Some features that the Touraine will have include  a roof-top terrace with an open air fireplace. Another less common feature will be a library. There are only a few other buildings in the city that have their own librarys as a recent NY Times article made note of. Both of these features will facilitate the neighbors getting to know each other, sometimes an unheard of concept in this fast-paced city. Because many Upper East Side buyers want a pre-war look with modern luxury finishes, The Toll Brothers are making an attempt to mingle these two styles effortlessly together. Since this is a boutique condo with a prime location, most units have already been sold.

Written by agnesbstanton

April 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Condos, Upper East Side

444 E. 57th Street (Marilyn Monroe’s Residence)

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Marilyn Monroe came to New York in 1954 as she was filming the “Seven Year Itch” made famous for the scene where Marilyn’s white dress is blown from underneath a subway vent. Besides filming, Marilyn wanted to make a fresh start, take some acting classes with Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio, and be photographed by Milton Greene. The Residence that is most characteristic of Marilyn was the apartment she owned with her third husband Arthur Miller at 444 E. 57th St. They moved into a Classic six apartment after their marriage in 1956, and reportedly lived in #13E. This building is a pre-war condo, one of just a handful in the city where most pre-wars are co-ops. Marilyn would own this apartment until her death in 1962.

Before Arthur Miller came into the picture, Marilyn lived at the Gladstone Hotel on 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue, which does not exist anymore. She soon took a more permanent residence on an 8th Floor apartment at 2 Sutton Place South, a historic co-op with a corner driveway.

2 Sutton Place South

When filming for Billy Wilder’s “Seven Year Itch” began in 1954, Marilyn could be spotted at 164 E. 61St. wearing only her knickers in the apartment used for the exterior shot in the movie. These-days this townhouse has medical offices on the ground floor.

164 E. 61 Street

The front entrance door at 164 E. 61 Street is flanked by two boxwood planters as is the entrance to 444 E. 57th St.  

Marilyn liked to go to Gino’s, an Italian restaurant that sadly closed in 2011. It was best remembered for its lunch-time power table and literary crowd and let’s not forget the zebra wallpaper. The food was decent but not great. Just like Swifty’s or Elaine’s, you would go there mainly to rub shoulders and make things happen. Marilyn also liked to go to Sardi’s at 234 W. 44th St. which mainly caters to the theatre and entertainment crowd and still exists today.

The Subway Inn, a badly run down bar, at least from the exterior as I’ve never been inside, was another spot where Marilyn could sometimes be found. The bar reportedly has photos of her on display and claims she got a little tipsy there a couple of times after her filming schedule.

143 E. 60th Street

Written by agnesbstanton

January 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Posted in Condos, Sutton

100 United Nations Plaza

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A bit of a run-in for this witch!

Written by agnesbstanton

October 27, 2010 at 10:18 am