The Good Luck Manhattan Mansion

Real Estate Agent

50 West 86th Street, Upper West Side Limestone

50 West 86th Street - Limeston Mansion - Townhouse

A recent New York Times article is about the house next door to Carrie Bradshaw's 'sex and the city' townhouse, 64 Perry Street recently listed for sale in the West Village although in the TV series Carrie Bradshaw lived in a fictitious Upper East Side townhouse.

This blog is about the townhouse that both the real Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker, and I both lived in during the 1980s on the Upper West Side off Central Park West.

Apartment 1-A Studio loft

My first Manhattan apartment was a studio with a sleeping loft complete with brick wall and huge windows.

It was on the parlor floor of a limestone mansion built in the early 1900s.

In the photo, it's the apartment with the 2 large rounded windows to the right of the front door.  

When I moved in we didn't have a live-in super. The landlord and his wife lived in New Jersey but owned this building as a hobby/investment. They loved the building and were always renovating and improving the aesthetics.

When I first moved in a young struggling actor attending acting school lived upstairs in a 300 square foot studio. The rent at the time for his apartment was $300. He worked out a deal with the landlord to help pay his rent. He took the garbage out to the street and vacuumed the halls. The next year he got his big break in the movie 'Taps' and the rest is history. His name is Tom Cruise.

After Tom moved out the landlord made renovations. Tom had a rent stabilized apartment. My apartment was also rent stabilized. I paid $700 a month. At the time, If a rent stabilized tenant vacates and the landlord makes renovations they can then raise rent to market rate.

The landlord connected Tom's third-floor studio with the second-floor 1 Bedroom adding a sleeping loft/storage and making the rest of the third floor a floor thru. Years later the landlord would tell me "Just got another Christmas card from Mrs. Cruise Tom's mother thanking me for helping him with the rent".

The landlord then built a triplex penthouse and wouldn't you know it another actor moved in only now the penthouse apartment with new marble bath was getting a market rent ($3500/month back then). This time it was Robert Downey Jr. He was starring on Saturday Night Live at the time. Then his girlfriend at the time, Sarah Jessica Parker moved in with him. About a year later they broke up and I will always remember helping Sarah load stuff into her mother's car one night.

The building has a long history. It was originally built as the limestone mansion for The Gimbel family from the famous department store. In the 1940's it was supposedly a "speakeasy" where gambling took place, then a boarding school, and finally apartments.

As you can see in the photo there are two entrances. The apartment below mine had a separate entrance with a wrought iron gate. That apartment has a swimming pool in the middle of the living room. My next-door neighbor was a playwright who became the head writer for the soap "Days of Our Life" and has won numerous EMMY's. 

The townhouse has 5 floors and 10 apartments. All unique, lofts, duplexes, triplex penthouse, terraces, and a solarium all with huge windows. A walk-up with beautiful mahogany stairs. Sarah climbed a lot of steps,-) A chiropractor now rents the pool apartment and my old apartment is rented as a live/work professional office. 

Mitchell Hall at 50 West 86th Street

Me young and thin 

 I will always think of 50 West 86th Street as the good luck townhouse.


The Manhattan Townhouse Market today is very desirable as single-family homes and multi-family income-producing rental buildings for investors.


update 2015: Gallery 52 in the Good Luck Mansion 52 West 86th Street

Courtesy of: Mitchell Hall, Associate Broker, The Corcoran Group

Posted by

©Mitchell Hall 2022

All content/images, unless noted, are the property of Mitchell Hall & may not be used without permission. 

nyc BLOG estate

          Call Mitchell Hall @ 917-312-0924

Comments (17)

Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


I love this story of the building you lived in.  That is the beauty of Manhatten buildings, there is so much history in them.  Love the picture of you in the 80's, we think you are aging well like fine wine...LOL A

Sep 21, 2011 04:25 AM
Christine Smith
Buyers Brokers Only LLC - - Canton, MA
Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA
Mitchell....what a story! Do they (Tom, Sarah and Robert) still keep in touch with you?! It is a beautiful building.
Sep 21, 2011 05:35 AM
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

This is an amazing story.  The truth is that  NYC has such a rich history that many buildings have a tremendously complex history if only we knew all the stories...suggested.

Sep 21, 2011 05:38 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Oh Mitchell  This is why I love your posts ! You make NYC come alive ! I never knew SJP lived with Robert Downey jr.(another one of my favorites I may add) What fun it must have been to have lived in this Building back in the 80's. I am sure you have many many more wonderful stories you can tell.So I will continue to forever read your wonderful posts. This building for sure looks to be a very Lucky Building ..

HelpfulHannah your friend in Philadelphia

Thank you for this post

Sep 21, 2011 06:00 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Alexandra, Thank you for the compliment. The building and apartment oozed with charm. I can still hear the steps creaking.

Christine, Several years later I met Tom in Hollywood at a studio party and he remembered the building, me and the landlord. I was in the entertainment industry prior to real estate. I've seen Sarah around town but never got a chance to speak and never had an opportunity to meet Robert again.

Ruthmarie, Thanks, if the walls could talk  ,-) There are "8 Million Stories in the Naked City"

Hannah, This one is for you. Yes they were an item. Robert was a perfect gentleman. I always had to buzz him in late at night. We had a secret coded buzzer system that he would forget.  Since I was the parlor floor he would buzz me. I could look out my window and see who it was.

David, Thanks, Luck and being at the right place at the right time. The Hollywood Reporter relocated me from LA to NY to run their New York Bureau. THR had a real estate section and the landlord called in a classified ad for the pool duplex apartment. They were looking for a celebrity. I told the landlord on the phone I was looking, I just moved to NY, it sounds fabulous but the pool duplex was out of my price range. (Cher looked at it ,-)

He told me that he kept a pied-a-terre in the building for himself and his wife but if they found the right person they would rent it. I said "I'll be there in 10 minutes" Hopped in a cab and shmoozed them both, they loved me and rented it to me.



Sep 21, 2011 07:56 AM
Rodney Mason
Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611 - Atlanta, GA
VP of Mortgage Lending - AL, FL, GA, SC, & TN

What a great story.  It goes to show that you never know who you will encounter living there.  I bet you have more stories to tell.

Sep 21, 2011 01:21 PM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

David, The landlord always promised he was going to convert to a coop or condo and I could have my pick of apartments at a great insider price. Never happened. A new building was going up down the street so I walked in one day and bought a brand new apartment. I'm still on the same block. I pass by my old apartment all the time.

Hi Rodney,  Thanks, You never know who you will encounter in Manhattan. My stories will become blogs. keep an eye out ,-)

Sep 21, 2011 01:47 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital
Mitch, this is just a wonderful story! Your old building's story is more interesting than my old brownstone. I want to move back.
Sep 22, 2011 07:37 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hi Barbara, Thanks, it is a very special building both architecturally and the good luck it brings. Look for more stories coming to a blog near you.

Pat, When I moved to the Upper West Side in the early 80's gentrification just started. I was a neighborhood pioneer. It was a really hip neighborhood. Everyone thought I was crazy moving up here. I was a pioneer. They either called it Upstate NY or West Side Story. Harlem now reminds me of the Upper West Side 30 years ago.

I never told you the story because I'm noit a name dropper. LOL

Sep 22, 2011 11:23 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Mitch!  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.   Have a great Sunday!


Sep 25, 2011 02:39 AM
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

I love this blog! I sure wish you could take some pictures of the inside of these apartments! I am just trying to imagine the swimming pool in the middle of the livingroom!

Sep 25, 2011 04:54 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hii Rosalie,Thank you. When the building was built in the early 1900's it was a single family house. Technically the pool is in the basement of the house. The apartment has a separate entrance and address it is 51 West 86th. I don't know what the zoning laws were back then but today it would be pretty difficult to have a pool in an apartment. I wish i had pictures but it had black and white tiles on the floor, the rooms were off to the side with cut out windows looking out to the pool. Nautical looking. in the rear was a bedroom and a door to a garden in the back. There was also a staircase that at one time connected to the solarium apartment in the back on the parlor floor. Last time I was there they rented them as two separate apartments. So there is a staircase to no where.

Sep 25, 2011 03:15 PM
Barbara Calwhite
Keller Williams Realty of Southwest Missouri - Joplin, MO
417-438-7387 Specializing in Relocation
Great story! It really makes the neighborhood come alive. I will be watching for more stories.
Sep 26, 2011 02:07 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn