New York’s most spectacular apartment building

Incredible, right? Called the Navarro Flats, this massive fortress of Gilded-Age extravagance was built on Central Park South at Seventh Avenue in the mid-1880s.


Twice the size of the Dakota, the Navarro Flats was also early example of apartment-style living. At the time, most New Yorkers of means still preferred living in a single brownstone or townhouse.

But “French Flats” were catching on, and the developer, Jose Francisco de Navarro, expected to make a mint selling luxury apartments to new-money New Yorkers.


He spared no expense. The seven-bedroom duplexes had as much as 7,000 square feet of floor space, including a drawing room, library, and billiards room (but only two bathrooms per apartment).

Navarroflats2Each $20,000 duplex was part of one of eight townhouses within the complex, an arrangement thought to make the idea of apartment life more palatable, reports Nathan Silver’s Lost New York.

So why isn’t such a spectacular mishmash of Queen Anne and Gothic architecture there anymore?

Some apartments sold, but mostly, New Yorkers didn’t bite. In 1888, de Navarro was fending off lawsuits from mortgage holders, and the enormous complex met with foreclosure.

By the 1920s, it was gone–replaced by newer luxury residences the Hampshire House and Essex House.

[Middle Photo: NYPL Digital Collection]

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13 Responses to “New York’s most spectacular apartment building”

  1. Virginia Wagner Galfo Says:

    Fabulous, simply fabulous. Thanks for posting!

  2. voluntariopr Says:

    Wow. Wonder if the are any interior shots

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I’ve never come across any, but if I do, I’ll post!

  4. Pinball29 Says:

    There was also a Navarro Hotel on Central Park South until the early 80s, when it was gut-renovated into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Any connection?

    • Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

      I stayed at the “St Moritz” Hotel / Central Park South in April 1996. (The rooms were nice but very dated.) I believe THAT is the site
      (after some major changes), re-named “The Ritz-Carlton.” It was located right next to “The Mickey Mantle Restaurant” and across from the Hoss-Carriages at the curb of Central Park.

      Last two times we visited, (2005) we hauled into Leona H.’s swanky joint a couple of doors down the block. The tallllllll location provided a terrific view of the glorious, golden-orange unveiling in the wee morning hours, of Christo & wife’s ‘THE GATES’!

  5. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    What a beautiful building, the second picture makes it appear mystical, like a huge fairy tale. Reminds me of the time I saw the Ansonia Hotel in the 1960s, what an impressive building.

    This old building was more remarkable.

  6. P. Gavan Says:

    What a travesty. Can you imagine how much one of these duplexes would have sold for today?

  7. Is this the city’s oldest intact apartment building? | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the palatial apartment houses of the 1880s—the Dakota, the Chelsea, and the ill-fated Navarro on Central Park South among others—the gem on 17th Street was all about refined, small-scale […]

  8. Bella Stander Says:

    My father lived in the Navarro Hotel on CPS for a while in 1966. I vaguely remember a gloomy one-bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchen, and the building as being crammed between its much grander neighbors.

  9. Paul Sheffield Says:

    Being an Architect, I’d love to see floor plans.

  10. The lavish porte cocheres of Gilded Age New York | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] lights, wall safes, private restaurants, billiards rooms, servant quarters, a chauffeurs’ lounge, even a rooftop farm were among the offerings […]

  11. Thomas Blake Says:

    Another barbarian act of the permanent change of NYC, the destruction of such a fantastic piece of art as the ever changing city has done with many other marvelous pieces of architecture through history. As a New Yorker when traveling around the World and enjoying cities, like London, Paris, Granada, Rome, Saint Petersburg etc etc etc I feel sad.

  12. An 1887 example of apartment living in Yorkville | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] had gone up on East 17th Street. The Dakota on the West Side, The Osborne on 57th Street, and the spectacular Navarro Flats on 59th Street were also filling up with […]

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