Thursday, March 05, 2009

Best of My Previous Neighborhood

So, as you may or may not know, I'm still without an official home. Still bounding between apartments and neighborhoods on a monthly basis. I spent February on the Upper East Side and have now moved back to the Upper West Side (same building I was in in January, different apartment.)

The Upper East Side, on the whole, I did not find exciting . . . it has always been my belief that the UES was not exciting, my living there did not shake my beliefs one bit. But a nice thing about the Upper East Side is there are some nice and interesting looking places up there. And some slightly famous places. I had many wanderings through my neighborhood and its neighboring neighborhoods, trying to make the most of it. I saw, on occasion, neat things. At other times I researched things I had always wondered about. Let me share with you some findings and discoveries...

Nice looking row of townhouses, right? Just wanted to show you some quaint townhouses, that's all.

This one caught my eye from a block away.

It's not good enough to have a grand townhouse, sometimes you have to embellish it with a quality penthouse. Once you're west of park, things start getting real serious on the Upper East Side.

This house had tusks in the window.

This one was just nice and covered in ivy.
This is 740 Park Avenue, "the world's richest apartment building." It was the childhood home to Jackie Kennedy and the present home to mostly people involved in money, old and new. The building's wikipedia entry says that it contains 31 units and boasts the highest ceilings and widest hallways on Park. The building was built in 1929 and designed by Rosario Candela and Arthur Loomis Harmon. If you do a google image search for 740 Park Avenue you will get some insane floorplans.
The townhouse at the center of this picture is the private home of mayor Bloomberg. Almost looks humble, right? I was surprised he lived on such a busy street.

I noticed this apartment building along Fifth Avenue. Not the most beautiful Fifth Avenue apartment building...

But check out the awesome overhanging penthouse!

These two townhouses are actually one townhouse, a 48 foot wide residence boasting over 20,000 square feet of living space. Of it the realators say it boasts "a beautiful entry hall with high, vaulted ceilings leading to the central part of the home that contains a Roman-style pool in addition to a wine cellar, an artist's studio, a gym, an elevator and staff quarters. Coffered ceilings and marble floors are incorporated throughout the townhouse's extensive floor plan.

The townhouse has been totally renovated and the interior's numerous and large rooms are furnished with centuries-old antiques. Exceptional details, include 11 fireplaces which grace the dwelling's elegant ballroom, formal dining room, Georgian pine-paneled library and 7 bedrooms."

You'll find this home listed as the "Milbank Mansion," but that's just a ploy to make it seem nice, it's actually one of New York's most infamous homes, the former residence of Bob Guccione. (He might sound like a gangster, but he's actually the founder of Penthouse magazine) Mr. Guccione, who used to boast that it cost $5 million a year to maintain this residence, found himself in dire financial circumstances in the 00's and had to sell the mansion a few times. Wikipedia has some interesting details on that and Gawker (a New York Media blog) toured the property during an open house in 2006. The non-salacious details can be found here.

This big townhouse was right next door. Cheesy. Wreaths still up in February, dark glass doors on the first floor. Reminds me of fancy Southern California houses we used to drive by on Sunday afternoons in the 80s.

One afternoon I took a walk along the eastern edge of Central Park with an eye out for impressive penthouses. Or large, Master-of-the-Universe-style viewing windows like this one.

Or this one...
Consider this penthouse with its little glass-enclosed protruding viewing station.

Or this teeny, tiny, too-far-away beachhouse looking apartment-topper.

Now I cheat, this building is on Central Park West, but I want you to know about it because a while ago I found a little article about its "chapel" apartment and it will trip you out. Check it. (you might wonder if you're looking at some sort of upstate New York or Californian manor...nope, just an apartment in the 90s on the west side. That's all.)

Getting back to UES proper, I dig this building's enormous octagonal penthouse.

One day I could see a BMX bike leaning against one of its windows. Hey, the wealthy can have children too, I suppose.

And here's a building that was right by my apartment. Lots of balconies, right?

Problem is, only one of them had railings. Weird, right? (You see it there, real low, on the left side?) That situation sort of makes it look like the whole building is broken.

And I found this place tucked away on the way to Lexington on the 80s. Very Soho for the Upper East Side, right? Cool, but totally out of place.

But this townhouse was much more neighborhood-appropriate, featuring two excellent little embellishments.

One: matching fox-head doorknockers

Two: A blind with a garden and peeping-puppy painted on it.

Finally, you might be saying: "Decent post, Brigham. But why were the pictures so small when I clicked on them? It would have been nice to have seen all those things you wanted to show us a little better." Well, the problem is I've nearly used up all my free blogger picture storage space, to draw it out I have to keep my pictures a lot smaller. And what happens when I finally use up all the space? I don't know. The world ends? How can they only give you 1GB of photo storage on blogger but 7GB for emails on gmail? It's criminal. (But generous.)


Tamara said...

Fantastic post, Brigham. Even if it were about the UES. I'm so glad to see that you gave it a chance but are now headed back to the better side of the city.

I'm so glad you put up something about that really cool building on CPW. I've always wondered about it!

And thank you for letting me know about this communist blogger picture hoarding rule! I had no idea!!!

Jessica said...


The chapel apartment literally made me cry.

I am sending you an e-mail right now to try and convince you to join us in Harlem. It is a whole different kind of interesting.

Mary Elizabeth Liberty said...

Hey there, just a couple additions to your review: Mayor Bloomberg has actually bought the townhouse nextdoor and is busting through to extend his home to fill both. Also, the apt with the turrets was built as the "new york cancer hospital", (now sloan-kettering) the rooms were built in the round to avoid germs building up in the corners. Now it's apartments though...hygienic ones.