Built in 1932 by the architect Morrell Smith for the Bank of Manhattan in the Neo-Georgian style, the three story building, which looks as if it might have been a private home was actually build as a bank. It has a centrally placed entrance with pedimented frame, a fanlight over the door, the building is mostly red brick with limestone accents, such as the keystones and impost blocks. The roof is of slate with pedimented dormers and “Chinese Chippendale” roof railings. The windows still have wooden shutters, two chimney stacks, two bullseye style windows on the third floor and a little garden on Madison. Considering how the neighborhood has become much more of a commercial shopping area and further south high rise office towers start to sprout up, this is a real little gem that I’ve always been curious about.
778 Park Avenue is the twin sitting side by side across 73rd street from 770 Park, both on the west side of the street, mimicking each other and their design, both buildings were designed by Rosario Candela. 778 was completed in 1931, at a height of 18 stories, with 18 apartments.
778 is another Georgian style building, although has a much richer façade than its earlier twin to the south. The base is a four story limestone pedestal with a linear first floor of larger “blocks”, the third through the fourth floors are smoother, three ornately flourished pediments, regularly spaced swags and medallion decorations. From the fifth floor up the remainder of the building is clad in red brick. Once again, as with 770, at the twelfth floor the façade falls back in to a series of setbacks culminating in a central tower.
If those who chose to call a place home means anything to its quality, notable residents of 778 Park were Brooke Astor (Mrs. Astor had a 14 room duplex on the 15th and 16th floor) and more recently Vera Wang, before she moved to her father’s apartment at 740 Park, William F. Buckley Jr, Mark and Renee Rockefeller and Zygmunt and Audrey Wilf.
770 Park Avenue is a 19-story 41 unit Georgian-style apartment building designed by Rosario Candela and completed in 1930. The building rests on the three story limestone pedestal, then shifts to red brick, by the twelfth story the building breaks “up into tiers of setbacks that were topped with a lantern-like penthouse tower. A year later, 778 created a similar silhouette on the northwest corner, and together, the pair framed the street like important monuments. The rooflines could be seen from far way, and they expressed the essence of these buildings elegantly, for they looked like clusters of houses or small European villages.” (Elizabeth Hawes). The buildings footprint is an “H” which allows for light and air to circulate reaching all of the apartments and in its siting also provides street views for all of the apartments.
Looking up from the avenue, this stretch of Park is a prime example of how many of the gilded age building came to resemble country estates in the sky, providing a stunning silhouette.
720 Park is one of my personal favorites, it is a riot of design work with all sorts of stunning detail, especially as one looks up towards the top floors, literally appears to be capped by an old estate home in the sky, little wonder since it’s architect, Rosario Candela was known for creating this type of feeling for his buildings. Candela worked with John and Eliot Cross of Cross & Cross architects jointly on the building. Built in 1928 in the Neo-Georgian style, 720 is 17 stories and has only 29 apartments.
“The building was developed by Starrett Brothers on part of the full-block site that had been previously occupied by the Presbyterian Hospital. One of the early residents was Jesse Isidore Straus, head of the giant Macy’s department store, whose two-floor apartment had a 40-foot entrance gallery, a 36-foot library, separate wine and vegetable closet, a valeting room, a sewing room and a kitchen larger than most modern living rooms,’ according to Andrew Alpern in his book, ‘Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan, An Illustrated History,’ (Dover Publications Inc., 1992).”
On the north east corner of 69th Street and Park Avenue stands an old bastion of classic New York, The Union Club. This particular building is the third built exclusively for the club, designed by Delano & Aldrich and finished in 1933. The design is neo-Georgian, the entire building is clad in a bright limestone with a beautiful mansard roof. “The quiet limestone Georgian design clothed a complexly organized, elegantly proportioned set of Classical rooms that enabled members to enjoy all of the comforts of twentieth-century life, including ticker-tape reports of stock-market transactions, pneumatic-tube service from Wall Street, as well as year-round air-conditioning and humidification.”
The history of the Union Club, its members and the battles between the other great NYC clubs is a fantastic read and well documented throughout, below are a number of links.