Manhattan Living: Brownstones to Glass Mansions in the Sky

Real Estate Agent

From Brownstone and Limestone to Brick, Concrete, Steel and Glass

Manhattan Residential Architecture from the 19th Century to the 21st Century


19th Century

New Yorkers lived in townhouses during the 19th Century. Single Family Townhouses and Mansions were made of Brownstone and Limestone. The Townhouse Market today is very desirable as single family homes and multi-family income producing rental buildings for investors.

West 88th Street Townhouse - Park Block

Upper West Side Townhouses


















Townhouses Upper West Side                                              West 88th Street Townhouse asking $7.5M 

The luxury apartment house was actually invented in New York in the late 19th century. Upper-class New Yorkers lived in townhouses and single-family mansions during the 19th century. To lure potential tenants, developers borrowed the word "apartment" from the French to make the new buildings sound more fashionable. The word and the lifestyle stuck.


In 1890 The Dakota was the first luxury apartment building in Manhattan.

It's Beaux Art Chateau style architecture was popular in the late 19th century. It was named The Dakota because at the time it was considered so far north (uptown West 72nd Street and Central Park West) it might as well have been in Dakota territory.

The Dakota

Dakota Architect: Henry Hardenburgh


20th Century

In 1904 The Ansonia was called the most technologically advanced apartment house in the world.

When it opened in 1904, this extraordinary, eighteen story Beaux Arts building provided tenants with such luxuries as electric stoves, hot and cold filtered water, freezers, a pneumatic -tube system to deliver messages, and even an early form of central air conditioning.

The Ansonia - Broadway - Upper West Side -Mitchell Hall

Architect: Grave and Duboy built (1899-1904)


Apartment house living spread from New York to the rest of the country. By the 1930's 90% of Manhattanites were living in apartments.


1930 Art Deco Buildings

The San Remo Apartments and The Beresford. Two Emory Roth Architectural Masterpieces. An ad for the San Remo in the NY Times in April 1930 called it:

As modern as a flying boat, as luxurious as the Ile de France and designed for people who are at home on both. Birds in the sky are your only neighbors.

The San Remo ApartmentsThe Beresford - Upper West Side - Emory Roth Architect

The San Remo Apartments                                                                                 The Beresford


After World War II the New York apartment buildings became flat panels of brick and glass, lacking shape, color, texture, and ornamants.



Brick Buildings

The Schwab House - 11 Riverside Drive, Upper West side

The Schwab House - 11 Riverside Drive, Upper West side














 11 Riverside Drive - The Schwab House

The Schwab House built 1951 is considered one of the best Upper West Side Coops. The 17-story, 654-unit apartment building is on the site of the former Charles Schwab mansion. It recently converted to "green" energy.



Buildings were white brick - Wedding cake style - Large buildings with many setbacks with terraces.

The Fairmont Upper East SideDorchester Towers Condo - 155 West 68th Street - Lincoln Square

Fairmont- UES built in 1964 - coop in 1984         Dorchester Towers built in 1964 converted to condo 1984


Buildings made of concrete have set back vertical rectangles and cylinders, many with balconies.

Rupert Towers built in 1975

Yorkville Towers built 1975
















Yorkville Towers, Rupert Towers Complex built in 1975 converted to condos in 2003



Brick facade with glass oversized windows - post modern, construction boom in 1980's.

The Boulevard- Upper Broadway - Upper West Side

The Boulevard 1988 - Upper West Side Condop                  The Bromley 1987 - Upper West Side condo


Distinctive Brick facade of the 90's. Mixed facade limestone panels of the new century.















The Alexandria built 1991                       Seven buildings (condos and rentals) Trump Place 1998- 2003


21st Century


Glass Towers of the New Millenium - Glass Mansions in the sky

The Airiel East and West Borodaway at 99th Street

The Aldyn -60 Riverside Boulevard
















The Ariel East and West at West 99th Street and Broadway -                The Aldyn 60 Riverside Boulevard


To receive listings of Manhattan Apartments and Townhouses

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To sell your Manhattan Apartment or Townhouse

Courtesy of:

Mitchell Hall, The Corcoran Group



©Mitchell Hall 2011


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Comments (11)

Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Mitchell ..that was fascinating reading ..thank you so much I really enjoyed that


May 04, 2011 11:00 AM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Mitchell:  Absolutely fantastic post!  Beautiful to the eye.  And I learned something too.  Totally enjoyable ...


May 04, 2011 11:17 AM
Peggy Hughes/pha logistix, inc.
pha logistix inc - San Francisco, CA

What a great architectural history lesson!  Thanks, Mitchell.

May 04, 2011 12:15 PM
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

You certainly captured the "flavor" of Manhattan...............there's something there for everyone.  Great post Mitchel.

May 04, 2011 12:43 PM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hannah, Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Gene, Thank you, The pictures really tell the story. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Peggy, Thank you. I love architectural history so I love doing posts about it.

Roger, Thank you, That was my intention. I really appreciate your comments.

May 04, 2011 01:38 PM
Michele Cadogan 917-861-9166
Fillmore Real Estate 2990 Av U, Bklyn , NY 11229 - Brooklyn, NY
Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker -


Wow what a wonderful post-    I really enjoyed how to captured the  changes through out the years. 

May 04, 2011 02:14 PM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Michele, Thank you. I appreciate your comment.

May 05, 2011 01:49 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Thanks David, The Dakota is the most famous because of John Lennon and the film Rosemaries Baby. I love Art Deco, There are some spectacular apartments with breathtaking park views in The San Remo and The Beresford. 

Real estate trivia:

Madonna was turned down by the San Remo board. Jerry Seinfeld annoyed his neighbors, the other famous residents at The Beresford so much during his apartment renovation that coops have since enacted the "Seinfeld Rule" For every day that an apartment renovation continues after it's scheduled completion, the owner/shareholder has to pay the coop $500 /day.

May 05, 2011 11:56 PM
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

This is fantastic.. I LOVE seeing the style changes with each passing decade.  I've always loved the different stylse of different eras and am pretty good at guess when a building was built....LOVE THIS>

May 06, 2011 04:59 PM