257 Central Park West
|257 Central Park West|
The profile from the 86th Street Central Park transverse
|Former names||Orwell House, Peter Stuyvesant Hotel, Central Park View, 2 West 86th Street|
|Architectural style||Beaux Arts|
|Location||Manhattan, New York|
|Country||United States of America|
|Design and construction|
|Architecture firm||Mulliken and Moeller|
|Main contractor||Gotham Building & Construction|
|Designations||Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District|
257 Central Park West, constructed between 1905 and 1906, currently is a co-op apartment building located on the southwest corner of 86th Street and Central Park West in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City.
Designed by the firm of Mulliken and Moeller and built by Gotham Building & Construction, the structure was erected as a luxury apartment house originally called the Central Park View. Mulliken and Moeller had recently finished The Lucerne, on the corner of 79th and Amsterdam, and the Bretton Hall hotel, on the east side of Broadway from 85th to 86th Streets. When Mulliken and Moeller began working on the Central Park View in 1905 for an investor group known only as the Monticello Realty Company, they were also designing the Severn and Van Dyck apartment buildings (found on the east side of Amsterdam Avenue between 72nd and 73rd streets) for a separate client. In the following year, Mulliken and Moeller designed Rossleigh Court, the adjoining and similarly designed apartment building located on the northwest corner of 85th Street and Central Park West.
Situated opposite the 86th Street transverse to Central Park West on the southwest corner, the Central Park View’s design followed the popular “French Flat” model in a Beaux Arts-style, modified to conform to the size of a twelve-story structure. Upon its completion, the new hotel anchored the eastern end of the developing West 86th Street. On the western end of West 86th Street, the Columbia Yacht Club  had relocated to a site adjoining the Hudson River in 1874 and remained the other West 86th Street bookend until 1937.
257 Central Park West is located within the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District, designated on April 24, 1990.
Starting at the sidewalk level and moving up to the parapet, there is a simple but massive limestone base up to the windowsill at the 1st floor. From this level up to the level of the 3rd floor sill, there is a facing of limestone, with deep horizontal rusticated joints, terminating with a sill course above the 3rd floor.
From the 3rd floor up to the sill level of the 4th floor, the course and window trims and 4th floor sill course are of architectural terracotta, with an isolated alternate course of red face brick.
From this 4th floor to the sill of the 11th floor, the façade is red face brick, with isolated courses, window trims and sills of architectural terracotta with three groups of suppressed window balcony and pediment head trims on each facade of architectural terracotta, and with continuous vertical corner quoins of architectural terracotta.
The 11th floor sill course is a continuous suppressed cornice of modest projection. From this level to the 12th floor sill level, the wall treatment is essentially a repetition of the treatment between the sill levels of the 3rd and 4th floor, but with a wide, prominently projecting, and continuous sill cornice. At the 12th floor, the wall is red face brick, with quoins of architectural terracotta at the corners of the building.
The street walls are thirty-four inches thick in the cellar, twenty-six inches thick at the 1st and 2nd floors, sixteen inches thick from the 3rd to 7th floors, and twelve inches thick from the 8th floor to the parapet above the main roof.
The framing system consists of cast-iron columns carrying steel girders and steel beams, which in turn support concrete floors and the roof deck.
The columns rest upon cast-iron base-plates, which in turn rest upon masonry piers founded on the schist bedrock laying a short distance below the cellar floor level.
Continuous peripheral foundations also resting upon bedrock carry the exterior masonry walls. These walls are self-supporting and independent of the steel framing system and are tied to the steel framing at every floor level.
The floors consist of 4-inch thick reinforced cinder concrete slabs. Although all floor slabs are level, the roof slab is framed with an integral slope so that it pitches downward gently from a uniformly high level at Central Park West and West 86th Street sides to a low level along the inner court sides and also downward from the south end of the west wing to a valley along the court walls.
Opened in 1906  as a luxury apartment house, the original entrance faced north on West 86th Street and featured an ornate entrance and lobby, opening from a porte cochère. The central court carried down to an open yard level in the interior that provided improved light and ventilation to the apartments above and privacy from the street and lobby to those entering the outdoor space from below.
The original apartments were designed for luxury, arranged in seven, nine, ten and eleven room suites, each with two or three bathrooms. Each suite included the modern amenities of telephone service, an automated mail delivery system, filtered water, storage in the basement and elevators serving all floors. The interiors were designed elegantly, with parquet floors and apartments finished in quartered oak, birch and mahogany.The kitchen contained porcelain sinks and tubs, nickel-plated plumbing, gas ranges, and five-foot marble wainscoting. The interior courtyards and the broad exterior facing offered the rooms light and air.
The custodian's apartment occupied part of the cellar and three apartments were built on the first floor. Each of the upper floors, namely the 2nd through 12th floors, was constructed with four apartments, making a total of forty-eight apartments including the custodian’s residence.
Changes Over Time
The original design did not last long. In 1907 the developer, the Monticello Realty Company, sold the new apartment to David H. Taylor and Charles W. Odgen for $1,850,000. Shortly thereafter in 1909 the central and south courtyards were excavated and a new single-floor roof was constructed at curb level to accommodate additional storeroom and a custodian’s workroom. The building was sold again in November 1914  Laundry tubs and a water closet were added in the basement in 1917 but no other major renovation is recorded before 1918.
From 1918 to 1920, the building underwent its first major renovation, the conversion from luxury apartment to the Hotel Peter Stuyvesant sponsored by the Sonn Brothers and the Peter Stuyvesant Operating Company. Under the new configuration, only a single apartment resided on the first floor, with new dining rooms and a reception area replacing the other two first floor apartments along the Central Park West front of the building. The entire first floor, in Cato and Belgian black marble, was adorned with blue and gold decoration. On the second through twelve floors were nineteen bedrooms, eleven living rooms, and nineteen bathrooms per level, alongside new partitioning and plumbing appropriate for hoteling use.
Other later renovations again changed the usage of the first floor space. In 1939, a cabaret and piano bar was added to the first floor. Outside the striped awnings that once adorned each window on the Central Park West facade disappeared, as did the light well still present along the building to the south. By 1950, the elevator men were gone as the cars were upgraded to new automatic versions from their prior manual operation.
This configuration lasted for nearly thirty years as the Hotel Peter Stuyvesant was operated by the Knott Hotel Corporation as a Class A hotel. The neighborhood itself would change as the Eighth Avenue Subway with its 5-cent fares opened in 1932 and replaced the uptown trolley system that once crossed at the 86th Street transverse. More importantly, the independent subway line tied the uptown property and those near it to the bustling metropolis forming in midtown Manhattan, only one and a half miles to the south.
The property was operated as a residential hotel up to its sale to Wilger Realty Corporation in 1941. By the late 1940s and 1950s, two other renovations again would change Hotel Peter Stuyvesant’s footprint. In 1949, the partitioning on the second through twelfth floors again was changed to incorporate nineteen apartments per floor. In 1957, the western dining room and the cabaret, the latter having established a poor reputation with the police, were renovated to accommodate new medical and legal office space. In 1960, the property was sold again to Soltzer & Lampert, real estate operators.
There is little to recount regarding the 1960s, although Fred Rust and Bill Davies taught ballroom dancing in the first floor ballroom until 1967. Their departure appears to coincide with another sale of the property. Stuyvesant Apartments, a partnership formed between Simon Haberman and Walter Schulze, purchased the building on April 17. 1967. The building underwent an alteration completed in 1970 replacing all internal partitions, while maintaining its external features, and including eighty-nine apartments on the upper floors (eight per floor but nine on the ninth), a group medical center on the first floor, and a garage in part of the cellar. An entrance to the lobby was added on the Central Park West side, with the former entrance on West 86th Street being retained as an entrance for the medical center.
The then-owners renamed the property as The Orwell House, in honor of the English author whom one of the sponsors enjoyed. That moniker remained until the early 2000s when the resident-shareholders decided to change the name to simply 257 Central Park West.
In 1978, Stuyvesant Apartments converted the apartments to co-operative ownership and offered the majority of the apartment units for sale. The property has been owned by a private co-operative corporation for over thirty years.
Approaching its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2003, the co-operatives' shareholders began a series of renovations aimed at restoring its historical façade and upgrading its internal systems. Many of the residents and shareholders likewise have renovated their homes with designs that match the residence’s elegance and location with modern conveniences.
The proximity to Central Park and the Mariner’s Gate at West 85th Street positions the century-old home very close to several attractions within New York City’s Central Park: the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the Great Lawn and Turtle Pond, the Delacorte Theater, the Shakespeare Garden, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, Bethesda Fountain, the Mariner’s and Abraham and Joseph Spector’s playgrounds, the Arthur Ross Pinetum, Cleopatra’s Needle, Belvedere Castle and the Winterdale Arch. The building also sits near the historical sites of the Seneca Village  and the Yorkville Reservoir.
In Popular Culture
The property has been used as settings in several films, including:
- Fame (1980) - When Bruno (Lee Curreri) and Angelo (Eddie Barth) drop Coco (Irene Cara) off at her sister's fake apartment, the building is 257 Central Park West.
- Other People's Money (1991) - Kate's apartment building is 257 Central Park West. In the movie, Lawrence (Danny DeVito) follows Kate (Penelope Ann Miller) and her date out of the apartment to a waiting car waits. Kate and her date get into the car and leave Lawrence standing alone on the sidewalk in front of the building.
- Music of the Heart (1999) - This two-time Oscar-nominated, Wes Craven-directed film was filmed in an A-line apartment which was set as the residence for Meryl Streep's character Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras.
- Hide and Seek (2005) - In this thriller, Katherine (Famke Janssen) says good-bye to Emily (Dakota Fanning) in front of 257 Central Park West.
257 Central Park West has been the residence of several famous pianists, musicians and composers over the years. The popular notion that the thick walls accommodated their tireless practice habits is unsubstantiated, but the list of former residents has included:
- Carrie Chapman Catt - the U.S. women's suffrage leader and first President of the International Women's Suffrage Alliance.
- Rev. Charles F. Aked, D.D. - the British-American orator, lecturer, and Pastor of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church.
- Leon Bramson - the author, member of the State Duma (Russian Empire), and leader of the World ORT.
- Anton Schwartz- the co-founder and President of the Bernheimer & Schwartz Pilsener Brewing Company who co-commissioned the Mink Building.
- William Leuchteberg - an Alpha-Lux executive and a passenger and survivor of the 1937 Hindenburg tragedy.
- Sue Simmons - the NYC television reporter and news anchor.
- Harry B. Mulliken (1872-1952) and Edgar J. Moeller (1874-1954) graduated together from Columbia University's Fine Arts class in 1895. Mulliken, from Chicago, supposedly worked for D. H. Burnham & Company in Chicago and then Ernest Flagg in New York City. The pair are credited with the design of the Van Dyke, the Severn, the Lucerne (at least Mulliken and possibly Moeller as well), 530 West End Avenue (south west corner of West 86th Street), 310 West 86th Street, 320 West 86th Street and 302 West 86th Street. Much of the work was sponsored by James and David Todd.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Upper West Side/ Central Park West District Designation Report, Vol. I: Essay/ Architects' Appendix, April 24, 1990.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Upper West Side/ Central Park West District Designation Report, Vol. II: Building Entries, April 24, 1990.
- Even to the casual eye, the similarities are striking in their extensive use of terracotta and the replacement of the central courtyard with smaller light courts arranged to provide interior rooms with more light and ventilation.
- The Todd Family, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/14/realestate/streetscapes-mulliken-moeller-architects-upper-west-side-designs-brick-terra.html
- The mid-decade between 1900-1910 saw New York City grow. With George B. McClelland Jr. as mayor (1904-1909), this Tammany-backed politician oversaw the completion of several works projects including the completion of the Williamsburg Bridge, the opening of the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, and the Battery Marine Terminal, as well as the continuing construction of the Manhattan Bridge, Grand Central Terminal, and the New York Public Library.
- For an original cost of $950,000 according to the records at the Office of Metropolitan History.
- Offering Plan for Premises at 257 Central Park West, 1978.
- New York Tribune, September 16, 1906, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1906-09-16/ed-1/seq-12/
- According to a pair of articles in the New York Times, dated March 1, 1907 and August 14, 1907, the Monticello Realty Company sold the Central Park View for $1,250,000 and a building, the Chatham Court. The cash consideration was paid by Mr. David H. Taylor and the property contribution was made by Mr. Charles W. Odgen.
- The New York Sun, November 14, 1914, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030272/1914-11-21/ed-1/seq-15/
- Hyman and Henry Sonn were Bavarian immigrants who became liquor dealers in the late 19th century and later developed several properties on the Upper West Side.They owned the property through the 1000 Westchester Avenue Company.
- The Peter Stuyvesant Operating Company leased the property from the Sonn Brothers under a twenty-one year lease, with a net lease value of $3,000,000 - a remarkably high value for the time. The lessee, led by William F. Ingold, conducted the refurbishment of the apartments to a residence hotel, with the plans provided by the architects Schwartz & Gross and B.N. Marcus.
- The New York Times, February 1, 1920.
- September 10, 1932
- Meyers, Stephen L. Manhattan's Lost Streetcars. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2005. The New York and Harlem Railroad operated a crosstown trolley that ran east from Eighth Avenue (aka Central Park West) across the Transverse Road to York Avenue and then turned north where it terminated at the 92nd Street ferry slip.
- The New York Times, January 21, 1941.
- The New York Times, July 11, 1960.
- Another discussion of this archeological site is written at http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/great-lawn/seneca-village-site.html. The remains of the foundation of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church reportedly can be found due east of the Mariner's Gate on 85th Street and Central Park West.
- The New York Times, November 7, 1910.
- According to the 1910 U.S. census, Ms. Hay resided with the widowed Mrs. Carrie Catt.
- The New York Times, May 12, 1910.
- According to the 1910 U.S. Census. Mr. Schwartz (58) lived here with his wife, Emma (52), his son, Adolf (23), and two servants until the untimely deaths of him and his son in that same year.
- On the third floor.
- The New York Times, March 1, 1924.
- On the ninth floor.
- On the fourth floor
- On the seventh floor.
- 257 Central Park West in Google Maps
- Central Park West Historic District, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, New York State Historic Preservation Office.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District Designation Report. Vol I
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District Designation Report. Vol II
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District Designation Report. Vol III
- The Library of Congress - Chronicling America - Historic American Newspapers
- The New York Times Article Archive
- A History of Housing in New York City by Richard Plunz
- Alone Together: A History of New York's Early Apartments by Elizabeth Collins Cromley
- Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America by Gwendolyn Wright
- A Guide to Researching The History Of A New York City Building
- Office for Metropolitan History: Building Permits Database
- Central Park Touring Maps
Nearby Landmarks on the Upper West Side
- American Museum of Natural History
- Alice Tully Hall
- Avery Fisher Hall
- Children's Museum of Manhattan
- Columbia University
- David H. Koch Theater
- Jazz at Lincoln Center
- The Juilliard School
- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
- The Metropolitan Opera
- Museum of Arts and Design
- The New-York Historical Society
- New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- Rose Center for Earth and Space
- Symphony Space
Nearby Landmarks on the Upper East Side
- Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Museum of the City of New York
- National Academy of Design
- 1908 Photo from the Southeast
- 1919 Photo from the Northeast
- 1920 Photo from the Northeast
- 1925, Central Park West at 86th Street
- 1929 Photo from Central Park
- 1929 Looking west from Central Park West
- 1929 Peter Stuyvesant Hotel, other buildings; El in background
- 1929 Looking from the 86th Street trolley line
- 1936 Looking from the 86th Street transverse
- 1936 Photo from the 86th Street Transverse