Posts Tagged ‘Central Park West apartments’

Central Park West’s most enchanting apartments

March 17, 2014

SturbantallThe wonderful thing about New York is that you can pass a building hundreds of times before discovering its magic.

Which is how, on a rainy late afternoon with just a slant of sunlight left in the sky, I discovered the beauty of the Beaux-Arts gem the St. Urban.

It’s a 12-story apartment house at 89th Street, one of many French flat–style residences built in an almost unbroken line along Central Park West at the turn of the last century.

The building’s neighbors, the Dakota and the San Remo, are perhaps more flamboyant. The St. Urban’s beauty is more understated, and it stands today as an elegant throwback—described in one book as a “splendid anachronism” of gracious, Gilded Age living.

SturbancherubFacing the park is a porte-cochere—a magnificent recessed carriage entrance—illuminated by golden globes affixed to the limestone entrance.

The St. Urban’s sloping mansard roof and dormer windows give it a castle-like feel, which is underscored by its rounded, domed tower crowned with a copper lantern.

I’m not the only one enchanted by the St. Urban. In 2001, writer Andre Aciman had this to say about the building, in a New York Times Magazine issue that focused on the specialness of New York City.


“As with Monet’s portraits of the Rouen cathedral, does the St. Urban stir so many images that changing the season, the cast of light or time of day changes the building as well?,” wrote Aciman.


“All I know is that something in me is forever grafted here—which is why I dare not think of the city without this building, or of me without this city, or of this building without me.”

Before the Majestic went up on Central Park West

July 4, 2013

Central Park West is lined with incredible apartment buildings with Art Deco touches. One of the loveliest and most renowned is the Majestic, the 29-story, circa-1931 residence at 72nd Street.


But before that Majestic blew New Yorkers away with its style, another Majestic occupied the site: the equally as sumptuous Hotel Majestic.

Themajestic1931Built in 1894 when Central Park West was still a low-rise thoroughfare dominated by the Dakota up the block, the Hotel Majestic “had private bowling alleys, a grand lobby, horse-drawn carriages out front, and a rooftop garden,” writes Kevin C. Fitzpatrick in A Journey Into Dorothy Parker’s New York.

Parker lived there with her widowed father as a teenager—along with Gustav Mahler, Edna Ferber, and other celebs of the Gilded Age.

Luxury goes in and out of style, and by the 1920s, the first Hotel Majestic just wasn’t cutting it.

Defunct city hospitals turned into homes

July 13, 2010

If St. Vincent’s Medical Center really does get made over into apartments, it won’t be the first time a city hospital was turned into residences.

That’s what happened to the old French Hospital, on 30th Street beween Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Built in 1928 by the Societe Francaise de Bienfaisance, it replaced the original French Hospital on West 14th Street, then the city’s French section.

The hospital closed in the 1960s, and in 1981 became rentals. Section 8 rentals, according to the management company website.

But hey, how cool is it to live beside a door that says “clinic entrance?”

Probably not as cool as living in the former New-York Cancer Hospital, on Central Park West and 106th Street.

King’s Handbook of New York, published in 1892, says the hospital “. . . was founded in 1884, for the treatment of all sufferers from cancer, whose condition promises any hope of cure of relief.”

Those circular wards are lovely, but they had a medical purpose: Without room corners, doctors believed that there would be fewer germs hanging around making cancer patients sick.

The hospital, which eventually became Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, moved out in the 1930s. It sat vacant for decades before becoming luxury co-ops a few years ago.

Interested in a 5-bedroom home? Check out this Corcoran listing.