998 Fifth Avenue
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The 150 foot tall 12 story building was designed by the prominent McKim, Mead & White architectural firm and built by James T. Lee (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ grandfather) in 1910-1912. The Italian Renaissance-style Palazzo structure is built entirely from limestone. It has a frontage of 102.2 feet on Fifth Avenue and 115 feet on the sidestreet. Like most older apartment houses, it features a large cornice and a inner court 32 feet square. Striking balustrade stringcourses define the division of the base from the body, and the body from the top. Each window above the stringcourse is capped with a pediment or cornice. Impressive panels of escutcheons and light-yellow marble adorn this structure horizontally at four-floor intervals. A heavily quoined corner and richly decorated overhanging eaves add to the exterior splendor of this structure. The imperial façade is further abetted with a beautiful iron marquee that extends over the side street entrance and is crested with palmette forms. The building has a large inner courtyard.There is a imposing marquee on the side street entrance.The façade of 998 is divided into three horizontal sections to reduce the scale – a heavy base of rusticated stone, and then tow midsections separated by ornamental plaques and balustrades. An elaborate cornice tops the building off. The exterior is notable for inset marble panels at the eighth and 12th floors, and the projecting iron and glass marquee over the main entrance. Built by the Harris H. Uris ironworks, the marquee (or, as it was more formally called in those days, the marquise) had a wire glass top and clear glass sides, allowing a flood of light into what was nominally an interior space.
Although the original design called for 18 apartments, on its opening the building contained 15 units, as some of the upper floors were combined into exceptionally large "mansions in the sky". Floors 1, 5 and 9 have ceiling heights of 11.5–12 feet, while the remaining have about 10.5 feet. The simplex maisonette on street level is 5250 sq ft, the duplex maisonette on the side street being the exact same size. Floors 2-8 contain 7 simplexes, each 6000 sq ft, 2000 sq ft being dedicated specifically to entertaining. These apartments contain 4 bedrooms, including a corner large master. On the side street floors 3-8 contain 3 duplex units,each 5000 sq ft. The upper 4 floors originally contained 3 apartments. The 9th floor consisted of a single apartment roughly 8750 sq ft. The last 3 floors contained 2 duplexes,a smaller 11500 sq ft one and a huge 15000 sq ft 28 room gargantuan unit. These very large apartments were subdivided, a new 5000 sq ft duplex being now on the buildings 10th and 11th floors on the side street. Also a 6000 sq ft simplex was carved out of the large duplex on the buildings last 2 floors. There are 2 main elevators and 1 service elevator for the staff. Also a service stairs.
The building is well-known as the first super-luxury apartment house on Fifth Avenue. The architect had been given carte blanche to create whatever was necessary to lure the very wealthy into the building. At the time of its construction, the upper class lived in mansions and townhouses on the Upper East Side. There had been built grand apartments before, but those were occupied by businessmen and the nouveau riche,not the upper crust of American society. During its construction, it was viewed as a remote and not popular tower. A tower which was invading the cities best residential section. When 998 Fifth Avenue was built the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a lot smaller and attracted far fewer people. Among the amenities the building had, wall safes, storage rooms in the basement and a large number of wood-burning fireplaces. The building was fire proof, the outer walls being 2 feet thick. Unlike the high-class apartment houses on the West Side, this house did not have a name. People mentioned simply 998 and one immediately knew you're talking about the most expensive and exclusive building in NYC. The house was, originally, like the vast majority of pre-war buildings a rental. The rents were astronomical compared to all the other buildings in the city. The largest units were leased for roughly $25000, while the smaller lower floor units for $10-12000. Among its first tenants were Elihu Root, Watson Bradley Dickerman, president of the New York Stock Exchange in the 1890's; George B. Fearing, a railroad investor and the president after 1916 of the Knickerbocker Club, a men's club at 62nd and Fifth; Levi P. Morton, vice president of the United States under Benjamin Harrison from 1889 to 1893 and later governor of New York in 1895 and 1896; Murry Guggenheim, a financier and mining operator who took the largest apartment; Victor Morawetz, Ludwig Dreyfus,Edson Bradley, E. Felsenheld, Thomas A.James, Lewis L.Clark and many other luminaries of the Gilded Age. Ultimately the buildings broker Douglas Elliman found over 100 prospects and 998 rented right away. In 1912 the magazine Architecture called it the most remarkable thing of its kind in America. Of course the fact that so many wealthy people rented apartments signaled the shift from the private houses to luxury buildings. That is why 998 is widely credited with convincing the upper class that apartments were suitable for living.The "servant problem" and the increasing time spent by the rich outside the city, the automobile and increasing taxes also favoured this shift. In less than 20 years since the buildings opening,over 90% of the wealthy people in New York lived in apartments. At the time of its opening in 1912, maybe only 5% occupied apartments. The building was very famous because of its astronomical construction cost. The building cost roughly $3 million (including the land). To give an idea of what $3 million meant in 1912, the legendary liner RMS Titanic,which was built at about the same time as 998 cost $7.5 million.
 Co-op and residents
998 Fifth Avenue is one of the most hard to penetrate pre-war buildings in NYC. It is one of the 4 best houses on the Avenue (alongside 820, 834 and 960 Fifth Avenue) and 10 best in the whole city. The apartments rarely are advertised and sell, depending on square footage or view, for $20 to 40 million. The building is one of the most storied on the "Gold Coast" and some of the best families in America have lived in it's apartments. Astor, Guggenheim, Morton, Vanderbilt, Root and many other prominent families all were housed by this magnificent apartment house.
998 Fifth Avenue, one of the grandest, supreme apartment buildings in NYC is a masterpiece of the Gilded Age. Its palatial, mansion-sized units are some of the most sought-after apartments in the world. A very elegant masterpiece, it is considered by many real estate brokers a standout, a symbol of the Upper East Side and Old Money. It was converted to cooperative in 1953.