Posts Tagged ‘Upper West Side apartments’

For rent on the Upper West Side in the 1930s

January 11, 2021

Finding a relatively affordable apartment in a pricey Upper West Side building is no easy feat. But things appeared different in the late 1930s, as a peek at the real estate pages of the New York Times reveals.

The “for rent” section of the paper in August 1938 features dozens of oversize ads dripping with adjectives and images designed to lure tenants—and the vast majority of these ads are for elite Upper West Side addresses.

A combination of factors apparently led to a late 1930s glut of unrented units in the buildings constructed during the Upper West Side boom years of the early 20th century. The Depression must have been a factor, leading to an oversupply of luxury apartments developers were desperate to fill.

Taking a closer look at some of the ads offers an idea of what people were looking for from a New York City apartment in the 1930s—and it also proves that certain amenities never go out of style.

The Master Apartment Hotel ad (top image) is aimed at potential renters who want to “live in a home of art and culture,” with free “lectures and recitals.” One amenity is telling: “silent refrigeration.” Refrigerators became more common in homes in the 1930s, but maybe they sounded like jet engines?

This ad for both 450 West End Avenue and 5 Riverside Drive (second image) is designed for families with kids, and the real estate copy about the great schools is exactly what you’d find in an ad today. But about that second building overlooking the spectacular Schwab Mansion? Well, the mansion was torn down a decade later, so the view would have been of a demolition pit and construction site until a replacement went up.

I like the third ad, which covers five of the poshest buildings along the Central Park West of today. “Each building occupies an entire block and enjoys cool breezes and day-long sunshine,” the ad tells us. Clearly this is before air conditioning, and the cool breezes were a real selling point.

370 Riverside Drive was built in 1922, and the list of features—two and three baths, spacious closets, well managed—still have strong appeal. My favorite amenity is the “fine type tenants.” No riffraff here!

Twenty-plus blocks down Riverside Drive was number 100. Dropped living rooms, Venetian blinds, stall showers, concealed radiators, Kentile kitchen floors…and radio outlets!

Each of these buildings is still standing, and most (if not all) have been converted to co-ops and are part of protected historic districts. About the prices listed: unless otherwise indicated, I believe they cover an entire year.

[All ads are from the August 14, 1938 edition of the New York Times]

Angels of an Upper West Side apartment house

May 31, 2012

These lovely figures decorate the facade of the Evelyn, at 78th Street and Columbus Avenue—one of the city’s oldest apartment buildings, built in 1885.

Hard to believe that just 25 years ago, the angels may have been in the sights of a wrecking ball!

A little bit of England on the Upper West Side

July 10, 2010

How did a gated collection of tiny Tudor homes end up amid the colossal apartment buildings of the Upper West Side?

This Alice in Wonderland–like enclave was built in 1921 by an Ireland-born nightclub baron.

He wanted the street to look like the set of a popular romantic comedy, Pomander Walk, which was set in 1805 London.

Called Pomander Walk, naturally, the private alley features 20 tiny homes facing each other across a walkway running from 94th to 95th Street and bounded by West End Avenue and Broadway.

A thick iron gate makes it difficult to get a photo of the homes inside, which are fronted by lovely gardens. 

But nyc-architecture.com managed to get a few.