New York’s most charming holdout buildings

Amid New York’s soaring skyline are some lilliputian-size gaps—the low-rise, 19th century buildings whose owners refused to sell when a developer had plans to bulldoze and rebuild next door.


These holdout buildings, now in the shadows of giants, are fun to come across—especially when the architectural style is so vastly different from its newer neighbor.


That’s what I love about this photo of a Romanesque Revival former soap shop on Thomas Street in Lower Manhattan, dwarfed by a contemporary high rise.


Same goes for these two stately townhouses on Sutton Place. Perhaps they were mansions in their day, but now clearly overwhelmed by the two pre- and post-war luxury apartment houses were built on either side.


This townhouse on Lexington and 57th Street looks like it’s being subsumed. The bigger building is the former Allerton Hotel for Women, built in 1923.

The banner advertisement on the townhouse suggests it’s the property of the larger hotel.


A lovely three-story remnant of old New York has withstood the test of time in the East 20s off Broadway, sandwiched between two 1920s loft-style buildings. What stories it must have to tell!

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5 Responses to “New York’s most charming holdout buildings”

  1. Robert R. Says:

    My favorite “holdout” is the 5-story building on the NW corner of Broadway and W34th Street in Herald Square; the one around which the giant Macy’s is wrapped. Apparently, Macy’s was never able to get hold of this little commercial building (although they rent advertising space on it) and it remains today as a curious little toy being hugged by the behemoth surrounding it.

  2. Shaun Hervey Says:

    Great post!

  3. Tom B Says:

    My favorite “holdout” is the Russian Tea Room between the Metropolitan Tower and the Carnegie Hall Tower.

  4. Manhattan after 14 years of 9/11 | Washingtonian Post Says:

    […] New York’s most charming holdout buildings ( […]

  5. A 21-story condo subsumes a Yorkville tenement | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] hard not to cheer on a holdout building. You’ve seen these underdogs: the old, unfashionable walkups that stand their ground against […]

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