A riverside cobblestone cul-de-sac no one knows

Imagine living on your own gated street on the far East Side of Manhattan—with a row of 19th century townhouses on one side and a tree-shaded lawn sloping down to the East River on the other.

Such a place exists east of Sutton Place at the end of 58th Street: a cobblestone cul-de-sac called Riverview Terrace.

Most New Yorkers don’t know it’s there, and that’s probably the way the residents prefer it.

“Just beyond Sutton Square is one of the neighborhood’s finest, and least‐known, residential enclaves, Riverview Terrace, a group of five ivy-covered brownstones fronting directly on the river,” wrote architecture critic Paul Goldberger in 1976 in the New York Times.

“A private street, tiny Riverview Terrace runs north from Sutton Square just on the river; a place geographically closer to city tensions yet more removed from them would be hard to imagine.”

Riverview Terrace was originally a less showy street, settled in the 1870s “by ‘nice people’ in modest circumstances, who were erratic enough to prefer a view of the river to a convenient horse car,” wrote the Times in 1921.

By the 1920s, with Sutton Place (formerly known by the more pedestrian Avenue A) becoming a bastion of wealth, the houses on Riverview Terrace underwent an upgrade.

The photo on the left was taken in 1935, with the street looking similar to the way it appears today.

The next photo on the right is from the 1930s, looking at Riverview from the East River.

Since then, these houses have been remodeled and renovated according to the imaginations of their wealthy owners.

Occasionally they come up for sale. Take a peek inside one on the market for $8 million right now.

[Fourth photo: MCNY x2010.11.3160; Fifth photo: NYPL]

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8 Responses to “A riverside cobblestone cul-de-sac no one knows”

  1. keenanpatrick424 Says:

    The late great Warren Zevon’s song -SPLENDID ISOLATION comes to mind.

  2. ksbeth Says:

    what a hidden treasure

  3. Mitzanna Says:

    It’s Paul ”Goldberger”.

  4. Steven A Burr Says:

    That was really ugly!

  5. frank dicapua Says:

    a far cry from what was the rubble of the Lower Eastside tenements so rich in many other ways

  6. frank dicapua Says:

    hello amo hope all is ok. sending you an ephemeral email hope you fuind it interesting

  7. David H Lippman Says:

    One of the homes on Riverview Terrace is the official residence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

    Anyone who has seen Woody Allen’s movie “Manhattan” will remember the scene where he and Diane Keaton are sitting on a bench overlooking the East River with the Queensboro Bridge behind them and a cast-iron lamppost standing guard over their scene.

    That scene was shot at the point where Sutton Square opens to Riverview Terrace, and the lamppost was the only twin-headed castiron Type F pole in the city, which made it unique. That lamppost is the symbol of “Forgotten New York,” an other great web page about New York’s unusual sights.

    However, the lamppost is no longer there. Despite its original landmarked status, the Department of Transportation found it necessary to replace it with a reproduction Type 24 pole in the last 20 years.

    I can only presume that the original pole, being made of cast-iron, fell victim to the elements, or worse, an errant truck driver.

    The best surviving cast-iron lamppost in New York City, without question, is an ornate 1890s-era twin-mast pole at the intersection of Amsterdam Avenue and Hamilton Place in Harlem. It’s near Hamilton Grange, Alexander Hamilton’s house, which is a US National Park Service site, and open to the public.

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