With Bond Street now condo-ized and Cooper Square getting the glass box treatment, it’s worth looking back at what constituted luxe living in the neighborhood in 1833: Colonnade Row, located between the two on Lafayette Street. Back in the day, the nine Greek Revival marble mansions dominated what was then tree-lined, two-block-long Lafayette Place. The Astors, Vanderbilts, and Delanos called the mansions home.
They weren’t just magnificent to look at; each had central heat and hot water, and they were a stone’s throw from Broadway, the center of Manhattan’s hottest neighborhood. The moss on the columns is pretty too.
But you know the story. What was once an elite neighborhood became a seedy red-light district, and tiny Lafayette Place was widened, extended, and renamed Lafayette Street. Some of the deteriorating mansions formed the Colonnade Hotel in the 1870s; by the 1900s, five met the wrecking ball, and the four that remain today were divided into apartments.
They’re still beautiful, if kind of scruffy. But that’s okay; not everything in the city has to sparkle.