New York

Carnegie Hill Historic District

Certified in 2003

carnegie_hillTo get a glimpse of New York City more than 100 years ago, take a stroll along upper Fifth Avenue. Varied and harmonious streetscapes abound in Carnegie Hill where a variety of architectural styles comprise its mansions, rowhouses, apartments and institutional buildings.

About 400 historic buildings are included in the neighborhood known as Carnegie Hill, named for the famous industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who built his mansion at 91st Street and Fifth Avenue in the late 1890s. With Carnegie’s mansion adding to the attractiveness of the area, other wealthy members of the upper class at that time built their homes in the neighborhood and extended Carnegie Hill along Fifth Avenue from 86th Street to 98th Street, and eastward to Madison Avenue.

Garment Center Historic District

Certified in 2009

Garment Center covers 25 blocks of Midtown Manhattan between Sixth and Ninth avenues to the east and west, and between 35th and 41st streets to the south and north. It is known for its distinctive loft buildings built in the 1920s to house New York City’s garment industry, the largest in the country for much of the 20th century.

The garment industry moved here from Fifth Avenue after World War I – powerful Fifth Avenue landlords had successfully lobbied for the Zoning Resolution of 1916, which effectively forced the industry’s move to a less ritzy neighborhood. Prior to becoming the garment district, the neighborhood had been home to tenement buildings, publishing and printing houses, and many theaters and hotels (with legendary nightlife). But, with the garment industry came the big lofts, and they forever stamped the district with their distinctive look. Form followed function: showrooms and offices filled ground floors, open-plan workrooms occupied upper stories, and large windows provided light for garment display and production. Lofts typically stood 12 to 30 floors in height; elevators and steel-frame construction, both common by the 1920s, made it all possible.

The Zoning Resolution of 1916 also determined the shape of the new lofts, requiring building silhouettes to be “stepped back,” ziggurat-style, from the street over a certain height. Architects responded enthusiastically to these design parameters, and the profile of the stepped pyramid became characteristic of New York City’s tall buildings, particularly of the lofts in the garment district.

An early exemplar of the new aesthetic was the Garment Center Capitol: two 22-story lofts completed in 1920 on Seventh Avenue to house the first permanent, co-operative home for the garment industry in its new location. The buildings included not only offices and showrooms, but also a club, a gymnasium, reading rooms, restaurants, and a roof garden. Promoters touted it as a “city within a city.” Throughout the 1920s, many more lofts were built on this model; the busiest years were 1924 and 1925, when a total of 47 new loft buildings were constructed. Stylistically, the lofts tended to be either art historicist or Art Deco. Ely Jacques Kahn’s 14 loft buildings were of a jazzy Art Deco dress, with bold black-and-white patterning – under his eye, they were no longer lowly factories, but glorious modern monuments to American manufacturing.

With the onset of the Great Depression, the building boom of the 1920s ground to a halt, and only a handful of buildings were constructed in the district in the second half of the 20th century.

Ladies’ Mile Historic District

Certified in 2003
ladies_mile
During the Gilded Age, at the turn of the century, this 28-block area south of Madison Square was the shopping center of New York City and the nation. The affluent members of society came here to shop in the internationally renowned department stores and specialty shops that lined the streets. The early skyscrapers designed in the Beaux-Arts, neo-Romanesque and neo-Classical styles and the enormous 19th century department stores that stood five and six stories in height and stretched entire blocks set this district apart from others of its era.

In total there are more than 300 contributing historic buildings located in this historic commercial district. One of New York City’s best known skyscrapers, the Flatiron Building, is located in Ladies’ Mile along with the Church of the Holy Communion, the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site and the Scribner Building. These landmarks are also individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Madison Square Historic District

Certified in 2004

madison_squareThis historic district consists of approximately 78 buildings representing New York City’s commercial history from 1849 to 1930. Converted row houses, Art Deco-style towers, and modest 20th -century commercial structures provide examples of all stages in New York’s commercial development.

Madison Square North evolved over the years from a fashionable residential neighborhood into a major entertainment district and then a mercantile district of high-rise offices and loft buildings. Construction of the luxurious Fifth Avenue Hotel in the late 1800s gave rise to a new hotel district along Broadway. Though that hotel no longer stands, six others dating back to 1890 still survive including the Prince George Hotel, which is also individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Another significant building, the Queen Anne style, seven-story Black Building, one of New York City’s earliest apartment buildings, is also located in the Madison Square North Historic District. The area along Broadway north of 23rd Street gained notoriety in the 1890s as the “Great White Way.” Popular because of its famous restaurants and theaters, it was one of the first sections of New York to have electric street lights.

After 1900 the area along Fifth Avenue attracted a number of financial institutions and became known for several distinguished bank buildings designed in the neo-classical style by noted architects John Duncan, C.P.H. Gilbert and McKim, Mead & White.

Metropolitan Museum Historic District

Certified in 2002

metropolitan_museumFew historic neighborhoods can match the diversity of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum District. With 124 townhouses, mansions, apartment buildings and hotels displaying a variety of architectural styles from the 1860s to the 1930s, the district is well-deserving of its historic status.

Bordering Central Park, the federally designated area captures and preserves a significant part of the City’s buildings and history indefinitely. From four-story townhouses built in the neo-Grec, Queen Anne or Italianate architectural styles, to neo-Renaissance mansions designed by renowned architectural firms, to the multi-story, limestone-clad apartment buildings that line Fifth Avenue, the district is a showcase of the residential style and elegance that defined New York City for decades.

NoHo East Historic District

noho_eastThe NoHo East Certified Historic District represents the period of New York City’s residential and commercial history from 1813 to 1929. Developed in the first decades of the 19th century with rows of Federal-style houses, the area eventually evolved into a dense urban district combining row houses, commercial buildings, tenements and apartment houses. The area’s period of significance stretches from 1813, when the earliest Federal house in the district was built, to 1929, after which almost no development took place in the area. The district represents a period of New York’s history during which time this area developed first as a residential enclave of Federal houses and later as a dense urban mixed-use neighborhood.

 

Riverside/West End Historic District

Certified in 2004

The Riverside/West End Historic District represents the period of New York City’s residential history between 1884 to 1939. During that time this small community on the Upper West Side of Manhattan evolved from a sparsely inhabited district into a densely developed, fashionable residential district. In 1898 the area consisted of several Renaissance Revival mansions and row houses designed in the Renaissance Revival, neo-Georgian and Beaux-Arts Classic styles.

Most of the mansions were built along Riverside Drive with scenic views of Riverside Park and the Hudson River. The only mansion to survive from this era is the Isaac L. Rice Mansion. Designed in the neo-Georgian/Beaux-Arts style, it is also individually listed on the National Register.

Luxury apartment buildings and flats were popular constructions from 1910 to 1939 when the majority of new construction ended in this area. They exemplified the Renaissance Revival, neo-Georgian, Beaux-Arts Classic, Beaux-Arts, neo-Gothic, neo-Romanesque, Art Deco and Moderne styles of architecture. Similar in height and construction material to one another, the apartment buildings form a solid and imposing wall of buildings along West End Avenue.

Treadwell Farm Historic District

Certified in 2004

treadwell_farmThe Treadwell Farm historic district is a two-block, 19th-century residential enclave, with low-rise rowhouses and tree-lined streets located on East 61st and East 62nd streets between Second and Third avenues on Manhattan’s East Side. Surrounded by mid-to-high rise, primarily 20th-century commercial and residential masonry structures, this collection of well-preserved historic homes is a historical treasure. The district consists primarily of three- and four-story brownstone rowhouses built initially in the Italianate and neo-Grec styles between 1868 and 1875. It is architecturally significant because of its high concentration of hybrid rowhouses that were redesigned in the 1920s. During these years, many of the building exteriors were modified to create a simplified, Neo-classic elegance representative of the time. Treadwell Farm is also considered historically significant because it is an early example of a planned, urban middle-class residential development.

Tribeca South Historic District

tribecaThe Tribeca South Certified Historic District represents the period of New York City’s residential and commercial history from 1810 to 1953. Although the district was a fashionable residential neighborhood in the early decades of the 19th century, the Tribeca South area quickly evolved into a major retail and wholesale dry goods center during the two decades prior to the Civil War. The district includes the work of the following architects: Samuel A. Warner; Isaac F. Duckworth; James H. Giles; and the particularly prominent firms of King & Kellum and John B. Snook. Commercial work by all of these architects can also be found in the SoHo and Tribeca West historic districts.

The store and loft buildings that today give Tribeca South much of its architectural character are typically five stories tall, with cast-iron framed storefronts and upper walls of stone, brick or cast iron. The buildings with complete cast-iron facades include three of the oldest surviving in New York City: the Cary Building at 105-107 Chambers Street (1856), the 93 Reade Street Building (1857), and the Peddie & Morrison Store at 77 Chambers Street (1857-58). The facades of all three were cast by D.D. Badger’s Architectural Iron Works, one of the city’s most prominent foundries. In style, the store and loft buildings fall largely into one of two versions of the Italianate palazzo type, either the Roman or the Venetian. A few show the influence of Second Empire styles, and one cast-iron front, at 62-66 Thomas Street, reflects the influence of the Gothic Revival style.

Wall Street Historic District

Certified in 2008

wall_streetThe Wall Street Historic District, located at the very tip of Manhattan Island, is among the most historically significant districts in the city and state of New York, as well as the nation. The historic district is of national significance for its architecture, commerce, economics, and role in politics and government. The district’s period of significance spans from1656 to 1956 – encompassing New York City’s history from the time of its Dutch colonial settlement through the beginning of Manhattan’s downtown post-World War II redevelopment. Additional years of significance include 1960, the year of the completion of the Chase Manhattan Plaza, and 1967, the year of the completion of 140 Broadway. The two buildings built in these latter two years are each of exceptional significance to the history of modern American architecture.

The district’s significance derives from several distinct aspects of its history:

Its founding in the mid-17th century with one of the earliest town plans in North America, one that predates the standard North American grid and reflects medieval European patterns.

Its role in the years immediately following the end of the Revolutionary War as the nation’s first capital, where George Washington took the oath of office and Congress adopted the Bill of Rights.

Its emergence, by the 1820s, as the new nation’s financial district and, later in the 19th century, as one of the word’s chief financial centers, a distinction that it continues to hold today.

Its collection of major architectural monuments, much of it related to the architecture of finance, and including designs by some of the nation’s most prominent architects.

Its role in the development of the skyscraper, the nation’s chief contribution to world architecture.

304 Park Avenue South

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005

(44 East 23rd Street, New York City)

This building is a handsome example of a turn-of-the-20th-century office building. Designed by New York City architects Clinton & Russell between 1903 and 1904, it draws its ornamental detail and stylistic inspiration from the architecture of the Italian Renaissance. Originally an 11-story building, it is famous for two major penthouse additions.

The first penthouse was built in 1916 for Jules Guerin, a muralist commissioned to design two 60-foot-long, 12-foot high canvas murals for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Guerin’s penthouse was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Starrett & Van Fleck. It was a single space the height of two normal stories to accommodate the large canvases needed for the murals, and featured a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows to accommodate the north light.

The second penthouse was built between 1925 and 1926 adjacent to Guerin’s studio for William F. Kenny, then the owner of the building, and a multi-millionaire contractor and childhood friend of Governor Al Smith. The penthouse, known around the city as the “Tiger Room”, was named for the Tammany Tigers. Tiger skins, brass tigers and tiger paintings adorned the major retreat for Smith and dozens of other figures from the late 1920s political scene of New York City.

49 East 80th Street

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007

Number 49 East 80th Street is an Art Deco style town house built between 1929 and 1930 for banker Lionello Perera, to designs by Harry Allan Jabobs. Jacobs claimed, credibly, that it was the first such town house built in Manhattan. Since it was one of four Manhattan town houses built in 1930, and the Depression put an end to town-house development, it may well be also the only Art Deco town house built in Manhattan, and is certainly among the last town houses built on the Upper East Side. The house was among Jacobs’s last commissions, designed two years before his death.

Austin, Nichols & Company Warehouse

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008

184 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn

The Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse is one of the largest and most significant structures on the Brooklyn waterfront. It was built between 1913 and 1915 to serve Austin, Nichols & Co., the world’s largest wholesale grocery business at the time. Its architect was Cass Gilbert (1859-1934), one of the nation’s most well-known architects, and designer of such prominent buildings as the Woolworth Building and the U. S. Custom House.

Measuring 179 by 440 feet, the building was described by a contemporary writer as a “Model of Modern Construction and Efficiency,” integrating piers, railway tracks, freight elevators, conveyor belts, and pneumatic tubes. Under the Sunbeam Foods label, all types of products were prepared, processed, and packaged in the building, from dried fruit and coffee, to cheese, olives, and peanut butter. In 1934, Austin Nichols entered the liquor business, and the building remained its headquarters until the late 1950s.

The building’s exposed concrete exterior is austere and monumental. Six stories tall, the simply-treated elevations are unusual in that they slope inward and are crowned by a coved cornice, features that led contemporary critics to describe the building as Egyptian Revival in style – a rare style in the United States, and exemplified in New York City by only a very few buildings. European architects, such as Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, identified this type of industrial building as inspiration for the development of European modernism. Today, the Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse remains one of the most impressive structures on the East River; not only a superb and highly visible example of eary-20th-century engineering, but also one of the earliest reinforced concrete warehouses in the United States designed by a nationally prominent architect.

The Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse first attracted the attention of community and preservation groups in 2004 when its owner announced plans to dramatically alter it by building a large rooftop addition and modifying its window pattern. Due to public interest in preserving the structure, in 2005, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission recommended that the building be added to the city’s list of registered landmarks, but the City Council reversed the Commission’s decision. Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the Council’s reversal but was subsequently overridden by the Council – leaving the Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse completely unprotected. In 2007, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Brooklyn Industrial Waterfront, which includes the Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse, on its list of 11 most endangered places.

A new owner purchased the building in 2006, and has plans to rehabilitate it in a historically sensitive manner. The rehabilitated building will feature a 60,000-square foot courtyard that will serve as event space for artists, a riverside walkway, a water taxi, hip retail space and cutting-edge living lofts.

Blum and Blum Loft

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004

(312-325 West 36th Street, New York City)

Designed by George and Edward Blum in 1926, the Blum and Blum Loft is a 16-story loft, office and showroom building located in the heart of New York’s garment district. Its design is indicative of the architectural character of the garment district during the 1920s, and features the setbacks and height so common to the buildings in this district as well as the steep, narrow canyons and asphalt, brick and concrete vistas. The building is unique, however, for a number of ornamental elements that make it one of the most architecturally distinguished buildings in the garment district. These include setbacks that are varied to create a pavilion-like arrangement, with three outer bays of windows on either side framing the building’s central portion, a three-story entrance adorned by wide sections of decorative metal spandrels with abstract floral patterns, and Art Deco style stone-reliefs.

Fred F. French Building

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004

551 Fifth Avenue, New York City

The prominent Fred F. French real estate firm erected this skyscraper between 1926 and 1927 for use as its corporate headquarters. Architects H. Douglas Ives’ and Sloan & Robertson’s use of detail inspired by ancient Mesopotamian art is an indication of the exotic historicism that was prevalent during the 1920′s. The exotic influence is especially evident at the base, where the bronze entrances and storefronts are embellished with mythological figures and Near Eastern ornament, and at the crown, with its vivid polychromatic terra-cotta decoration.

General Electric Building

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004

570 Lexington Avenue, New York City

The Radio Corporation of America (RCA-Victor) was a subsidiary of General Electric when it commissioned this Art Deco building, designed by Cross & Cross between 1929 and 1931, as its headquarters. In 1931, as part of an effort to gain corporate independence, the firm moved to Rockefeller Center and deeded this building to General Electric. The octagonal brick tower, rising from a base with rounded corner, is one of the most expressive skyscrapers of its era. Especially noteworthy features are the complex brickwork and terra cotta colors chosen to blend with the neighboring Saint Bartholomew’s Church and the use of details symbolic of the building’s original tenant. Although many mistakenly attribute these details, which resemble electric rays, to symbolize General Electric, they were in fact designed as radio waves intended to symbolize RCA.

Look Building

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004

488 Madison Avenue, New York City

The Look Building survives today as a fine example of mid-20th-century commercial modernism. Designed between 1949 and 1950 by Emery Roth & Sons, the firm that almost single-handedly rebuilt much of Midtown Manhattan’s commercial precincts, the Look Building became a cultural landmark with ties to Madison Avenue’s publishing and advertising heritage as the historic home of Look magazine, one of the most influential publications in 20th-century America.

MacMillan Building

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006

60 Fifth Avenue, New York City

The former Macmillan Publishing Company building was built between 1923 and 1924 to be the new headquarters of the American branch of the prominent British publishing house. Macmillan grew from a small London bookstore founded in 1843 into one of England’s most important publishers. Its American branch, founded in 1869, eventually became the largest publisher in the United States. The American company hired the firm of Carrere & Hastings; Shreve Lamb & Blake to design the new headquarters building at 60 Fifth Avenue. Carrere & Hastings were nationally known for such major New York monuments as the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The design of 60 Fifth Avenue combined luxurious Beaux-Arts detailing with steel-cage construction in such a way as to help the commercial building fit into the residential precincts of Fifth Avenue, winning it an award from the Fifth Avenue Association.

R. C. Williams Warehouse

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005

259 10th Avenue, New York City

This 10-story building occupying the entire block of Tenth Avenue between West 25th and 26th streets was originally built for the R.C. Williams Company, a major wholesale grocer in the mid-1920s. The building is famous both for the material used to construct it and for its architect. Designed between 1927 and 1928 by prominent American architect Cass Gilbert, who also designed such notable structures as the U.S. Custom House and the Woolworth Building, this warehouse is one of the first industrial buildings made from reinforced concrete. Its design is essentially a smaller version of Gilbert’s Brooklyn Army Terminal, one of the earliest reinforced-concrete complexes in the world.

The Engineers’ Club and the Engineering Societies Building

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007

28-36 West 40th and 23-33 West 39th Streets, New York City

The elegant adjoining buildings of the nation’s Engineers’ Club and engineering societies were once the focal point of the nation’s early engineering profession, and as such, were intimately connected with the growth of the United States into a major industrial and economic power. In 1904, steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gifted $1.5 million to build a headquarters for the burgeoning societies, as well a social club of the variety that was becoming increasingly prominent in New York City at the time. This was consistent not only with Mr. Carnegie’s focus on building libraries, but also with his interest in financing buildings for organizations that performed other educational or scientific functions, as well as with his personal connection to the engineering profession through his leadership in the steel industry.

Mr. Carnegie and the Engineers’ Club and engineering societies decided to erect two distinct buildings – one for the Club, and the other as a combined headquarters for three different engineering societies: the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Institute of Mining Engineers. The two buildings – the Engineers’ Club at the West 39th Street address and the Engineering Societies Building at the West 40th Street address – were to be connected through purpose and function, but architecturally distinct from one another.

For more than 60 years, the two buildings served as the epicenter of the American engineering profession. The engineering societies occupied their building until 1957, while the Engineers’ Club remained at their location until 1979. Today, the Engineers’ Club building contains cooperative apartments, and the Engineering Societies’ Building contains retail spaces.

Whitfield & King, architects of the Engineers’ Club, and Hale and Morse, architects of the Engineering Societies Building, created designs that matched the buildings’ separate functions: a stylish club building facing Bryant Park, and a more subdued, though still elegant, professional headquarters on West 39th Street. Their location near other social clubs in the city and across the street from the city’s grand new Public Library – supplementing the Club’s unparalleled engineering library – reflected the buildings’ dual purposes. Today, the two buildings stand as handsome reminders of the role that engineering played in the creation of New York City – which would have been inconceivable without the engineering triumphs of its bridges, subways, water works and skyscrapers.

Van Tassell & Kearney Building

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008

126-128 East 13th Street, New York City

The Van Tassell & Kearney Building is New York City’s last-remaining building originally constructed for the horse auction business. Designed in 1903 by Jardine, Kent & Jardine in the Beaux-Arts style, and clad in distinctive red brick and limestone, it was among the city’s most prominent horse auction marts, selling horses and carriages to members of New York City’s social elite. In 1916, soon after the “horseless carriage” appeared on the scene, Van Tassell & Kearney began auctioning automobiles at the building. In the second quarter of the 20th century, its open interior was divided into classrooms in which men prepared for civil service exams and women studied machine technology. From 1978 to 2005, preeminent artist Frank Stella used the building as his studio, perhaps drawn to it by the abundant natural light provided by its skylights that originally showcased horses.