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.
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.
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.