The Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue between 76th and 77th streets is a much loved institution on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The property itself had something of a rocky start, developed by Moses Ginsburg, designed by the architecture firm of Bien & Prince in a richly ornate art deco vernacular. The Carlyle was completed in 1930, originally to be a residential hotel, but almost immediately fell on hard times and went into receivership in 1932. In the post World War II boom the hotel finally found its sea legs under the ownership of Robert White Downing and became a high society hot spot, obviously from its location and then further along as successive Presidents of the United States favored the Carlyle as their stay of choice in the city.
Storefronts, galleries mostly, line the sidewalk on Madison, a relatively plain lower façade that is all too obviously functional (for maximizing space) until the eye reaches the upper stories, that have a whole series of setbacks with amazing detail work. If you are an architecture / design fan and really want a better look it’s best to go down the side streets towards Fifth Avenue, Park or even down Madison where you will get a much better feel for the building rather than simply looking up.
And if you are in the neighborhood, a stop in to Bemelman’s Bar on the ground floor is a must, when you walk in the Madison entry, turn left, the murals, by Ludwig Bemelman, the low lighting, gold ceiling provides one of the best old school upper east side experiences.