York Avenue / Sutton Place

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Townhouses line the east side of Sutton Place between 58th and 57th streets.
Sutton Place South at 53rd Street.
Auction house Sotheby's headquarters on York Avenue between 71st and 72nd Streets.
Sutton Place Park, with the Queensboro Bridge in the background
North end of York Avenue, at 92nd Street and FDR Drive

York Avenue and Sutton Place are the names of a relatively short north-south thoroughfare in the Upper East Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Sutton Place South runs from 53rd Street to 57th Street, Sutton Place from 57th to 59th Street, and York Avenue from 59th to 91st Street. The street is considered among the city's most affluent, and both portions are known for upscale apartments, much like the rest of the Upper East Side. York Avenue runs through eastern Yorkville, while Sutton Place runs through its namesake neighborhood along the East River and south of the Queensboro Bridge.

Addresses on York Avenue are continuous with that of Avenue A in Alphabet City, starting in the 1100 series and rising to the 1700 series.

The greater Sutton Place neighborhood, which sits between the neighborhoods of Turtle Bay on the south and Yorkville on the north, is bounded on the east by the East River, on the west by Second Avenue, and runs from 53rd Street to 59th Street. Sutton Square is the cul-de-sac at the end of East 58th Street, just east of Sutton Place; and Riverview Terrace is a row of townhouses on a short private driveway that runs north from Sutton Square.

History[edit]

The street that became York Avenue and Sutton Place (and further north, Pleasant Avenue) was proposed as an addition to the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 for Manhattan, which designated 12 broad north-south avenues running the length of the island. The geography of Manhattan left a large area on the Upper East Side east of First Avenue without a major north-south thoroughfare, so Avenue A was added to compensate. Sutton Place, the name that applied to the whole street at the time, was originally one of several disconnected stretches of Avenue A built where space allowed, east of First Avenue.

In 1875, Effingham B. Sutton constructed a group of brownstones between 57th and 58th Streets, and is said to have lent the street his name, though the earliest source found by The New York Times dates back only to 1883. At that time, the New York City Board of Aldermen approved a petition to change the name from "Avenue A" to "Sutton Place", covering the blocks between 57th and 60th Streets.[1][2] The vacant block between 59th and 60th Streets is now considered a part of York Avenue.

Sutton Place first became fashionable around 1920, when several wealthy socialites, including Anne Harriman Vanderbilt and Anne Morgan, built townhouses on the eastern side of the street, overlooking the East River. Both townhouses were designed by Mott B. Schmidt, launching a career that included many houses for the wealthy.[3]) Very shortly thereafter, developers started to build grand co-operative apartment houses on Sutton Place and Sutton Place South, including several designed by Rosario Candela. Development came to an abrupt halt with the Great Depression, and the luxury apartment buildings on the lower part of Sutton Place South (below 57th Street) and the northernmost part of Sutton Place (adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge) were not developed until the 1940s and 1950s.

In 1928, a one-block section of Sutton Place north of 59th Street, and all of Avenue A north of that point, was renamed York Avenue to honor U.S. Army Sergeant Alvin York, who received the Medal of Honor for attacking a German machine gun nest during World War I's Meuse-Argonne Offensive.[2][4][5]

Park controversy[edit]

Sutton Place encompasses two public parks overlooking the East River, one at the end of 57th Street and another at the end of 53rd Street. The 57th Street park is separated by an iron fence from the landscaped grounds behind One Sutton Place South, a neo-Georgian apartment building designed by Rosario Candela. The property behind One Sutton Place South was the subject of a dispute between the building's owners and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Like the adjacent park, the rear garden at One Sutton Place South is, in fact, cantilevered over the FDR Drive, a busy expressway at Manhattan's eastern edge that is not visible from most of Sutton Place.

In 1939, city authorities took ownership of the property behind One Sutton Place South by condemnation in connection with the construction of the FDR Drive, then leased it back to the building. The building's lease for its backyard expired in 1990,[6][7] The co-op tried unsuccessfully to extend the lease, and later made prospective apartment-buyers review the legal status of the backyard and sign a confidentiality agreement.[8] In June 2007, the co-op sued the city in an attempt the keep the land,[8] and on November 1, 2011, the co-op and the city reached an agreement in which the co-op ended its ownership claim and each side would contribute $1 million toward the creation of a public park on the land.[9]

"Avenue A Estate" of New York & Suburban Homes Company, named before the Avenue was renamed

Notable residents[edit]

Prominent residents of Sutton Place include architect I. M. Pei, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, his son-in-law designer Kenneth Cole, and actress Sigourney Weaver. Former residents include Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, C.Z. Guest, Peter Lawford & Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Lillian Gish, Aristotle Onassis, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Bill Blass, Bobby Short, Percy Sutton, Irene Hayes, Elsie de Wolfe, Joan Crawford, Raj Rajaratnam, Richard Jenrette, Marilyn Monroe and her then husband Arthur Miller, Mildred Natwick, and Maureen O'Hara [10] to name a few.

Points of interest[edit]

York Avenue from on top of the Queensboro Bridge

One Sutton Place (North), a townhouse at the northeast corner of Sutton Place and East 57th Street, was built as a residence for Anne Harriman Vanderbilt, widow of William K. Vanderbilt. Next door, the official residence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations is a five-story townhouse that was built in 1921 for Anne Morgan, daughter of financier J.P. Morgan, and donated as a gift to the United Nations in 1972.[11]

The auction house Sotheby's is headquartered on York Avenue.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Senft, Bret. "If You're Thinking of Living In/Sutton Place; A Riverside Enclave for the Well-to-Do", The New York Times, June 12, 1994. Accessed December 27, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Gray, Christopher. " Streetscapes/Sutton Place, Sutton Place South and One Sutton Place North; A Prestigious Enclave With a Name in Question", The New York Times, September 21, 2003. Accessed December 27, 2007.
  3. ^ Hewitt, Mark Alan. "About Mott Schmidt: Beginnings and Sutton Place". The Architecture of Mott B. Schmidt. MottSchmidt.com. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  4. ^ Pollak, Michael. "F. Y. I.", The New York Times, August 7, 2005. Accessed October 16, 2007. "In 1928, Sutton Place from 59th to 60th Street, and Avenue A north of 60th, were renamed York Avenue in honor of Sgt. Alvin C. York (1887-1964), a World War I hero from Tennessee and a recipient of the Medal of Honor."
  5. ^ During his on October 8, 1918, attack, York captured four German officers and 128 men and several guns. "Medal of Honor Recipients - World War I". United States Army Center of Military History. 
  6. ^ Bagli, Charles V. "In Sutton Place's Backyard, Private Oasis on Public Land", The New York Times, December 31, 2003
  7. ^ "Sutton Place Private Lawn Going to the Masses", Curbed.com, December 7, 2004
  8. ^ a b Bagli, Charles V., "A Co-op on Sutton Place Sues to Keep Its Backyard", The New York Times, June 19, 2007. Accessed December 27, 2007.
  9. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt, "Co-op Ends Fight With City Over Its East Side Backyard", The New York Times, November 1, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2011.
  10. ^ "Misty for Maureen O'Hara" New York Post Jan 2012
  11. ^ Teltsch, Kathleen. "Town House Offered to U. N.", The New York Times, July 15, 1972. Accessed December 27, 2007.
  12. ^ "Sothebys Contact Info". Business Insider. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  13. ^ Alleman, Richard. The Movie Lover's Guide to New York. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. ISBN 0060960809, p.117

External links[edit]