York Avenue and Sutton Place

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York Avenue/Sutton Place
York Avenue from high above 59th St jeh.jpg
Seen from the top of the Queensboro Bridge
Owner City of New York
Maintained by NYCDOT
Length 2 mi[1] (3 km)
Location Manhattan, New York City
South end 53rd Street in Midtown East
FDR Drive in Lenox Hill
North end FDR Drive / 92nd Street in Yorkville
East FDR Drive (53rd–79th Streets)
East End Avenue (79th–90th Streets)
FDR Drive (90th–92nd Streets)
West First Avenue
Commissioned March 1811

York Avenue and Sutton Place are the names of a relatively short north-south thoroughfare in the Yorkville, Lenox Hill, and Sutton Place neighborhoods of the East Side of Manhattan, in New York City. York Avenue runs from 59th to 92nd Streets through eastern Lenox Hill and Yorkville on the Upper East Side. Sutton Place and its southern extension runs through their namesake neighborhood along the East River and south of the Queensboro Bridge, with Sutton Place South running from 53rd to 57th Streets and Sutton Place from 57th to 59th Streets. 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.

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

The greater Sutton Place neighborhood, which sits north of the neighborhood of Turtle Bay, runs from 53rd Street to 59th Street and is bounded on the east by the East River and on the west by either First Avenue[2] or Second Avenue.[3] Sutton Square is the cul-de-sac at the end of East 58th Street, just east of Sutton Place; Riverview Terrace is a row of townhouses on a short private driveway that runs north from Sutton Square.


Townhouses line the east side of Sutton Place between 58th and 57th Streets
"Avenue A Estate" of New York & Suburban Homes Company, named before the Avenue was renamed

Early years[edit]

The street that became York Avenue and Sutton Place 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.[4] The earliest source found by The New York Times using the term Sutton Place dates 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.[5][6] The 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.[7] 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.

NewYork–Presbyterian/Weill Cornell as seen from the East River

In 1906, The Rockefeller Institute (the predecessor to The Rockefeller University) moved its laboratories to the site of the former Schermerhorn farm at York Avenue (then called Avenue A) and 66th Street.[8] John D. Rockefeller purchased the land from the Schermerhorn estate between Avenue A and the East River extending from 64th Street to 67th Street in 1903 [9] The Rockefeller Institute Hospital opened in 1910.[8]

In 1912, New York Hospital became affiliated with the Cornell University Medical College and in 1932 moved to its current location, a joint facility, the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, on York Avenue between East 67th and 68th Streets. In 1998, NY Hospital merged with Presbyterian Hospital to become NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) and the site functions as one of the main campuses of NYP.[10] In 2019, NYP was ranked as 5th Best Hospital in the United States.[11] On the west side of Avenue A, across the street from the Rockefeller Institute, in 1925, the Rockefeller Garden Apartments opened.[12] There were meant to be affordable housing, "good homes for low rents" for people with children.[13]

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 during World War I's Meuse-Argonne Offensive.[6][14][15] York, commanding only a few men took over 125 German soldiers as prisoners. York's feat made him a national hero and international celebrity among allied nations.

In 1932, New York Hospital and Cornell University Medical College (which affiliated in 1913) moved to its current location, a joint facility, the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, on York Avenue at 68th Street. In 1998, NY Hospital merged with Presbyterian Hospital to become NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) and the site functions as one of the main campuses of NYP.[10]

In 1939, the Memorial Hospital opened on York Avenue, between 67th and 68th Streets, on land donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.[16]

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, named Sutton Place 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 parkway at Manhattan's eastern edge that is not visible from most of Sutton Place.

Sutton Place Park at the end of 57th Street, with the Queensboro Bridge in the background

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.[17][18] 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.[19] In June 2007, the co-op sued the city in an attempt the keep the land,[19] 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.[20]

Notable residents[edit]

Former and current residents of Sutton Place include architect I. M. Pei;[21] socialite Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan of the Vanderbilt family; French-American writer, journalist and pianist Eve Curie; cabaret singer and pianist Bobby Short;[21] rock stars Freddie Mercury[22] and Michael Jackson; actor Peter Lawford and his wife Patricia Kennedy Lawford of the Kennedy family; Ziegfeld Girl and businesswoman Irene Hayes; actresses Lillian Gish, Joan Crawford,[22] Mildred Natwick, Maureen O'Hara, Sigourney Weaver,[22][21][23] and Marilyn Monroe[22] and her then-husband Arthur Miller;[22] actress and interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe and actress, fashion designer and socialite C. Z. Guest; clothing designers Bill Blass[23] and Kenneth Cole and interior designer Valerian Rybar;[24] shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis; banker Richard Jenrette; hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam; Steven Hoffenberg, founder of Towers Financial Corporation, a debt collection agency; John Fairchild, publisher of Women’s Wear Daily; politician and business leader Percy Sutton; "Preppy Killer" Robert Chambers and his ex-girlfriend, Shawn Kovell; former New York Governor Mario Cuomo; and all UN Secretaries-General since Kurt Waldheim.

Points of interest[edit]

Auction house Sotheby's headquarters on York Avenue between 71st and 72nd Streets

One Sutton Place North, a townhouse at the northeast corner of Sutton Place (dead end) 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 four-storey brick 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 by industrialist Arthur A. Houghton Jr.[25] The Secretary's home is 0.6 miles (0.97 km) from the UN Headquarters. These townhouses have a park at the rear with FDR Drive running below (Sutton Place Tunnel) along the East River.

The auction house Sotheby's is headquartered on York Avenue.[26]

In popular culture[edit]

Sutton Place South at 53rd Street is the Dead End of the play and movie of that name (1935/37)
1 Sutton Place North, setting for Sleep, My Love (1948)
  • 1935/37 – Sutton Place at East 53rd Street is the Dead End of the play and movie of that name, which began the movie careers of the Dead End Kids.
  • 1936 – The lyric for Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes mentions Sutton Place as a desirable address: "This motto applies to folks who dwell in Richmond Hill or New Rochelle, in Chelsea or In Sutton Place."
  • 1936 – The movie My Man Godfrey starring William Powell was about a hobo in a hobo jungle that once was adjacent the Queensboro Bridge and "Sutton Place" is mentioned frequently in the movie as where Godfrey the butler was found and hired.
  • 1947 – In John Cheever's short story "The Enormous Radio", the main characters, Jim and Irene Wescott, live in an apartment in the Sutton Place neighborhood.
  • 1948 – 43 Sutton Place is the home of Leona and Henry Stevenson (Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster) in the film noir Sorry, Wrong Number. Most scenes take place late one evening as Leona frantically tries to solve a murder plot that she overhears on the telephone. Through her bedroom window are night views of the Queensboro Bridge.
  • 1948 – 1 Sutton Place North is the home of Alison Courtland (Claudette Colbert) and her husband Richard (Don Ameche) in Douglas Sirk's film noir Sleep, My Love.
  • 1951 – Sutton Place is mentioned in J. D. Salinger's novel Catcher in the Rye as the location of a "swanky" apartment.
  • 1953 – 36 Sutton Place South was an exterior location for the film How to Marry a Millionaire starring Marilyn Monroe.[27]
  • 1958 – Sutton Place is featured in the "Lady Bug, Lady Bug" episode of the TV show Naked City.
  • 1960 – Sutton Place is featured in the film Satan in High Heels.
  • 1966 – The Avenue A Estate on Sutton Place was the site of the "East End Hotel," the home of Ann Marie in That Girl.
  • 1970 – In an article in New York magazine, Tom Wolfe mentions "the famous Mrs. C--------, one of New York’s richest widows, who has a 10-room duplex on Sutton Place, the good part of Sutton Place as opposed to the Miami Beach-looking part". The article was later reprinted in the book Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.
  • 1973 – Sutton Place is featured in Larry Cohen's film Black Caesar.
  • 1983 – Sutton Square, the cul-de-sac at the end of East 58th Street just east of Sutton Place, was depicted as the home of the lead character (a wealthy playwright) in the Dudley Moore film Romantic Comedy.
  • 1983Scarface had a scene in which Tony Montana (Al Pacino) was on the telephone in the now-defunct 60th Street Heliport, now used as a dog run.
  • 1984 – On his album New Sensations, Lou Reed, in the song "High in the City", sings: "Let's not walk down Sutton Place; you know everybody there's got Akitas."
  • 1986 – In the film Legal Eagles, the villain, Victor Taft (Terence Stamp), resided on Sutton Place.
  • 1987 – In Oliver Stone's film Wall Street, an excited broker (Sylvia Miles) offers to show Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) some apartments on Sutton Place once she realizes how wealthy he is.
  • 2000 – In the film Almost Famous, Patrick Fugit's character is seen sprinting down Sutton Place.
  • 2007 – 50 Sutton Place South was one of the buildings used to film American Gangster.
  • 2008 – Sutton Place is the location of the home of the main character in Mary Higgins Clark's novel Where Are You Now?. Clark owns an apartment in the neighborhood, and in several books her characters occasionally dine at Neary's, an actual Irish bar and restaurant located on East 57th Street between First and Second Avenues.
  • 2013Vampire Weekend's song "Hudson", on their album Modern Vampires of the City, contains the line "But I was born on Sutton Place".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Google (December 1, 2015). "York Avenue and Sutton Place" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  2. ^ Wilson, Claire (June 15, 2003). "If You're Thinking of Living In/Sutton Place; Prestigious Address With Villagelike Feel". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2014. ...Sutton Place, a tidy and somewhat out-of-the-way Manhattan enclave that runs from 53rd to 59th Streets between First Avenue and the East River.
  3. ^ Johnston, Laurie (May 27, 1984). "If You're Thinking of Living in Sutton Place". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2014. ...the name [Sutton Place] reflects its glow south to 53d Street, west to Second Avenue and even a bit farther west on 57th Street.
  4. ^ Sutton Place Park history, NYC Parks website. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Gray, Christopher (September 21, 2003). "Streetscapes/Sutton Place, Sutton Place South and One Sutton Place North; A Prestigious Enclave With a Name in Question". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2007.
  7. ^ Hewitt, Mark Alan. "About Mott Schmidt: Beginnings and Sutton Place". The Architecture of Mott B. Schmidt. MottSchmidt.com. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Our History". About. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  9. ^ "NAME ROCKEFELLER AS BUYER OF BLOCK; Reported Purchase Opposite Institute Is Believed to Forecast Expansion.NEGOTIATORS ARE SILENTResearch Plant Controls Six BlocksBetween 63d and 68th Street,Avenue A and East River". timesmachine.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  10. ^ a b https://weill.cornell.edu/our-story/about-weill-cornell-medicine/history History of Weill Cornell Medical College
  11. ^ "2019-20 Best Hospitals Honor Roll and Medical Specialties Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  12. ^ "TimesMachine: Friday October 2, 1925 - NYTimes.com". timesmachine.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  13. ^ "TimesMachine: Friday October 2, 1925 - NYTimes.com". timesmachine.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  14. ^ 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."
  15. ^ During his 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.
  16. ^ "History & Milestones | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center". www.mskcc.org. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  17. ^ Bagli, Charles V. "In Sutton Place's Backyard, Private Oasis on Public Land", The New York Times, December 31, 2003
  18. ^ "Sutton Place Private Lawn Going to the Masses", Curbed.com, December 7, 2004
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt, "Co-op Ends Fight With City Over Its East Side Backyard", The New York Times, November 1, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2011.
  21. ^ a b c Wilson, Claire (June 15, 2003) "If You're Thinking of Living In/Sutton Place; Prestigious Address With Villagelike Feel" The New York Times
  22. ^ a b c d e Staff (February 26, 2018) "Sutton Place: New York’s Happy Place" EllimanInsider
  23. ^ a b Cameron, Christopher (December 8, 2018) "The status of NYC’s most elite buildings is sinking " New York Post;;
  24. ^ McKay, Jeff (May 22, 2013). "Then: Sutton Place". New York. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  25. ^ Teltsch, Kathleen. "Town House Offered to U. N.", The New York Times, July 15, 1972. Accessed December 27, 2007.
  26. ^ "Sothebys Contact Info". Business Insider. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
  27. ^ Alleman, Richard (1988), The Movie Lover's Guide to New York, New York: Harper & Row, ISBN 0060960809, p.117

External links[edit]