Posts Tagged ‘Upper East Side street’

The Upper East Side’s secret 19th century alley

November 22, 2012

If you’ve never heard of Henderson Place, a lilliputian cul-de-sac off of 86th Street and East End Avenue, you probably have plenty of company.

This is one of those dollhouse-like nooks tucked among big apartment houses that even longtime Manhattan residents never see.

But it’s such a pretty, well-preserved enclave of Victorian-era New York, it’s worth a walk-by.

Named for landowner John Henderson, the 24 Queen Anne–style houses (as well as others surrounding it that were demolished years ago, as shown in the undated photo) went up in 1882 for “persons of moderate means.

“The use of features such as wide arched entryways, terra cotta plaques, windows divided into tiny square panes, and projecting bays and oriels produced an enclave of buildings that were of a high level of design, even though they were not intended to house members of a higher social class,” states nyc-architecture.com.

The houses on the west side of Henderson Place were torn down in 1940, while the rest of the alley was designated a historical district in 1969.

Of course, they’re no longer in the price range of the typical person of modest means. According to this Streeteasy listing, one of the houses recently sold for about $4 million. Take a peek inside here.

[Vintage photo: Museum of the City of New York]

A view of a smaller-scale Fifth Avenue in 1900

September 20, 2012

I’m not sure when this postcard was made, but the postmark is stamped 1906; I think it has to be a bit earlier.

It’s a view of the corner of Fifth and 57th Street, then a luxe address lined with mansions and now a luxe address lined with much taller hotels and grander apartment houses (and a few surviving mansions).

The mansion on the right was owned by the very wealthy Mary Mason Jones. The building in the middle of the block is the former Savoy Hotel, later the site of the Savoy Plaza Hotel and now home to the GM Building, which houses the Apple Store and FAO Schwartz.

A brownstone encased in concrete on 64th Street

July 18, 2012

East 64th Street between Park and Lexington is a sweet brownstone block.

But one home sticks out: number 130, which has been strangely hiding behind a concrete grill for much of the past 50 years.

It’s an interesting story. The brownstone went up in 1878 and was bought by architect Edward Durell Stone in 1956.

Stone was an early proponent of modernism; he designed the Museum of Modern Art, the GM Building, and the Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle (redone in 2006, but looking a lot like the 64th Street brownstone in the 1960s).

Stone remodeled his new home, adding the concrete screen and putting in plate glass windows behind it.

It was supposed to offer privacy and create a romantic, latticework effect.

Instead, it garnered a lot of criticism. Over the years, the grill collected dirt and deteriorated.

Stone’s widow removed the facade in the late 1980s, then was fined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission because the home was now part of the Upper East Side Historic District.

The grill went back up in the 1990s, a framework of bisected circles rising four stories—exciting or enraging passersby who either love it or hate it.


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