The sea motifs of the East Side co-op River House

River House, the white-glove Art Deco co-op built in 1931 at the eastern end of 52nd Street, has a lot going for it.

There’s the appealing prewar design, rare privacy behind an iron fence and long driveway, and airy apartments with many rooms.

And of course, the biggest selling point might be the extraordinary views of the East River and beyond for the wealthy and famous who live there.

But you don’t have to be a shareholder to be enchanted by the co-op, built on the site of a former cigar factory.

That’s because anyone can walk down 52nd Street past First Avenue and see the whimsical sea motifs built across the facade on along doorways.

Seahorses are abundant on the building (and have actually been found in New York’s waters, amazingly). Two gilded seahorses decorate the entrance to what might have been the River Club, the co-op’s exclusive club overlooking the water.

Anchors decorate the facade too. They’re the perfect symbols for this luxury dwelling, which once boasted that residents could dock their yachts behind the building, so they had easy access to depart the city via the East River.

The creation of the FDR Drive a decade later unfortunately put an end to this perk.

Even this fountain built into the side of the building along the driveway appears to be designed like a shell. And is that Neptune or Poseidon, gods of the sea, guarding it?

[Top photo: MCNY 1931, 88.1.1.2083]

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17 Responses to “The sea motifs of the East Side co-op River House”

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    I am so delighted to see this beautiful apartment building show up on my favorite blog about NYC!
    We live in Santa Barbara, California…..and we love to visit NYC. We have friends who belong to the River Club, which is in the building the River House. It was formed when the building was built. It has tennis courts, a swimming pool…..beautiful dining rooms, a charming bar, and a few guest rooms. It has the most amazing garden on the East River. It is an oasis!
    We stay there whenever we can; sponsored by our friends who are members. There are postcards that have photographs of boats parked in front of the building to take the inhabitants to Wall Street! Even a gondola! It is a charming vestige of old NYC. Thank you for a wonderful post!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    So glad you know it! I’ve never seen the club but have heard that it’s lovely and so private.

  3. The sea motifs of the East Side co-op River House ⋆ New York city blog Says:

    […] [Top photo: MCNY 1931, 88.1.1.2083] Source link […]

  4. Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk Says:

    There was once a street fare running the length of 52 St from river to river, in the 1970s. Don’t know what the occasion was. I walked the length of it a few times, bought a hat and had a few beers along the way, Hic!

  5. Falling Down⚒ (@Fallingdownintx) Says:

    I love this!!

  6. Bruce Hays Says:

    Nice details! Just so you know, Neptune and Poseidon are the same god. Neptune was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Poseidon.

  7. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks! That’s what I was trying to say, but I guess it didn’t come across clearly.

  8. Bruce Hays Says:

    No problem, your posts are always interesting, and enjoyable, revealing little known aspects of the world’s most documented city!

  9. Bruce Hays Says:

    Funny thing, suddenly I’m getting error messages trying to post through Google+, so, switched to Facebook!

  10. Tom B Says:

    We walked around that area down to the UN. I wanted to see where ‘Dead End’ was located. Of course it is completely different now. This area is so much different than any other part of NYC. Quiet and peaceful. No noise, traffic or people. I think it is a better location than on Central Park.

  11. David H Lippman Says:

    An apartment building with its own yacht dock. Very cool, but very pretentious…

  12. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    Not really pretentious. Men took their boats down to work on Wall Street. I like that kind of commuting. I don’t think the boats were really yachts!

  13. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    Delighted to read you moved to that “secret pocket of loveliness”! Wonderful description!

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