Hop On!  Explore West 72nd Street with Landmark West!

At one time, the elite address to have, West 72nd Street, due to its width and connection to the Central Park Women’s Gate became a heavy crosstown thoroughfare.  Once grand city residences enjoyed seasonally by well-heeled New Yorkers gave way to a series of schools, boarding houses and businesses as stoops were removed for further widening and storefronts marred facades.  LANDMARK WEST! has paid your fare, so grab a seat by a window, and come along for a ride across the Queen of Streets from Riverside Drive to Central Park West!

 

Find out more about the rich history of those who lived and worked on West 72nd Street. Scroll through the map below and click on any highlighted area. Want to dive deeper? Click “Read More” from the pop up window. Interested in a particular address? Click on the corresponding blue circle below the map to get right to the full story.

72nd Street Map
100 W. 72nd Street 101 W. 72nd Street 106-112 W. 72nd Street 118 W. 72nd Street 134 W. 72nd Street 170 W. 72nd Street 174 W. 72nd Street 176 W. 72nd Street 3 Riverside Drive, The Kleeberg Residence 30 W. 72nd Street 50 W. 72nd Street 53 W. 72nd Street 1 West 72nd Street/121 Central Park West - The Dakota 15 W. 72nd Street 37 W. 72nd Street 133 W. 72nd Street 137 and 139 W. 72nd Street 141 W. 72nd Street 143 W. 72nd Street 159 W. 72nd Street 163 W. 72nd Street 165 W. 72nd Street 200 W. 72nd Street 201 W. 72nd Street 214 W. 72nd Street 228 W. 72nd Street 230 W. 72nd Street 243 W. 72nd Street 247-249 W. 72nd Street 251 W. 72nd Street 250-254 W. 72nd Street 265 W. 72nd Street 271 W. 72nd Street 309 W. 72nd Street 311 W. 72nd Street 338 W. 72nd Street 344 W. 72nd Street 105 W. 72nd Street 1 Riverside Drive, The Prentiss Residence

100 W. 72nd Street

A Grocery or a Work of Art?
This building was designed by one of the most famous firms in Gilded Age New York: McKim, Mead & White. For a grocery store. But, Park & Tilford was quite a step above anything the UWS had ever seen. The opening on September 23, 1893 was reported by The Times as "attended by hundreds”, adding, “There is no business building more handsome on the west side”. The New-York Tribune noted that the “best class of trade” on the Upper West Side had “suffered much inconvenience by being obliged to order their groceries and household provisions from down-town houses.” They could now rest easy. “The new store of Park & Tilford…has been decorated and stocked in such a manner that it is no exaggeration to say that it is a work of art.”
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101 W. 72nd Street

Bank at the Base, Smoke Police Upstairs
In real estate circles, Charles Buek was a sort of one-man show.  His firm, Charles Buek & Co., not only developed properties, but he often acted as the architect as well.  In 1887, he began construction of an upscale apartment building on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue.   Completed the following year, he designed the brick and stone structure primarily in the recently popular Queen Anne style.  The cost of construction was about $2.6 million in today’s money.  Buek named the building the St. Charles Apartments.

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106-112 W. 72nd Street

New York’s Most Accessible Hotel
On January 6, 1903 Walter Stabler delivered an address to the Real Estate Class of the Y.M.C.A. on “The Development of the West Side.” In it, he outlined the rather stumbling progress of developers in what was, in the mid-19th century, “one vast stretch of farm land.” It was not until the early 1880s, he pointed out, that real development took hold. Only a few years after those rows of houses were erected, many of them along the avenues and major streets were demolished as a new trend arose: residential hotels.

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118 W. 72nd Street

The Hotel Earlton: Marriages Failed, Flailing and Faked
A year after erecting his striking 30-story World Tower building, in 1914 fledgling developer Edward West Browning hired the same architects to design three apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. And as they had done with the World Tower project, Buchman & Fox turned to the neo-Gothic style for their design, clad in gleaming white terra cotta. Browning called 118 The Hotel Earlton. Like its siblings, it had four two-room apartments per floor, with “foyer, hall and bath, with parquet floors,” according to The Clay-Worker. Known as an “apartment hotel,” there were no kitchens in the suites. Tenants had the option of eating in a large dining room on the ground floor.

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134 W. 72nd Street

The West End Club[house] and International Sunshine Society
In 1883 real estate operator, Margaret Crawford began construction on five upscale rowhouses on West 72nd Street, between Columbus Avenue and Broadway. The avenue-wide street was developing into what the West 72nd Street Association would describe five years later as “the model street of the city.” The well-known architect Gilbert A. Schellenger designed the homes in the Renaissance Revival style. Completed in 1884 they were four stories above a high basement level, with a high stone stoop rising to the parlor floor level. The New York Times reported its purpose was “to promote intercourse among the members and provide a clubhouse.” Exclusive men’s social clubs routinely took over mansions within post residential neighborhoods. The elegant interiors with carved mantels, costly paneling and sweeping staircases created an aristocratic setting for the clubrooms. The upper floors contained rooms for members to stay when, for example, they were in town on business during the summer months while their homes were closed for the season. The New York Herald mentioned “The West End Club house is at No. 134 West Seventy-second street. The interior is luxuriously fitted up.”

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170 W. 72nd Street

Beef Over Roast Beef
Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart opened their first restaurant in Philadelphia on December 22, 1888. When “waiterless restaurants” began to appear overseas around the turn of the century, Frank Hardart traveled to Europe to see them in action. Customers chose food items from glass-doored compartments, inserted a coin and removed the food. The concept required fewer personnel and, therefore, reduced prices. Diners enjoyed quick service and inexpensive meals. Horn & Hardart brought the concept to the United States. The result was a sensation and in 1912 they branched into New York City. Shop girls, office workers and laborers found they could stretch their meager pay in clean, attractive surroundings where five cents would buy tasty, freshly-made food. The coin machines accepted only nickels and women “nickel throwers” were on hand to make change. Because the coins dirtied the cashiers’ hands, they work black uniforms. Despite the low food prices, Horn & Hardart did not scrimp on the interiors. Marble, white tile and shining chrome were kept spotless and the cafeterias were often termed “classy.” Joseph Horn’s approach to the restaurant business was simple. “There is no trick to selling a poor item cheaply. The real trick is to sell a good item cheaply.”

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174 W. 72nd Street

Four Architects and One Roe Mansion
The Roe mansion at 174 West 72nd Street was completed in 1886. Architect Arthur Bates Jennings produced a stone-fronted house that refused to be forced into stylistic box. Romanesque Revival coexisted with a touch of Flemish Revival, topped with a slate-covered mansard roof. The house sat above a tall English basement. No two openings were alike and the architect skillfully incorporated arches, gables, engaged columns and carvings to achieve his four-story fantasy. Albert Roe was considered a leader in the New York lard refining industry. A few years earlier, when reports circulated that lard additives like tallow, water and cottonseed oil were being added to the product, reporters sought out Roe’s opinion. Roe insisted that it was not New York refiners to blame. Although adulterating lard was indeed a common practice, the inferior product was intended for “the Cuban and West Indian trade;” not for Americans. With Amy and Albert in the new home where their sons, Alexander, Irving and Frank; and two daughters, Laura and Aurelia. The mansion was the scene of a happy reception on February 12, 1896 following the wedding of Laura Bosworth Chamberlain Roe to Henry Burr Anthony in St. Agnes’s Chapel on West 92nd Street.

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176 W. 72nd Street

Finishing School to Terra Cotta Finishes

The oldest private school for girls in New York City was established in 1816 by Mrs. Esther Smith.  In 1834 her brother, James Boorman erected a double-wide mansion at 1 Fifth Avenue, just above fashionable Washington Square, to house the school.  And then in 1893, now run by the “Misses Graham,” it moved into the mansion at 176 West 72nd Street, on the southeast corner of Broadway.  Here the daughters of well-to-do families were schooled in academic courses, as well as proper demeanor. The neighborhood chosen by the Graham sisters for the refined school was elegant and residential. But that would not last. By the end turn of the century the intersection had become increasingly commercial as both West 72nd Street and Broadway became major thoroughfares. And in 1904 a subway station was opened in the center of Broadway, directly across from the brownstone mansion. No longer the environment for genteel young ladies, the school moved on. Two years later the Real Estate Record & Builders’ Guide reported “Work will soon be started changing the 5-story residence, No. 176 West 72d street into a store, office and studio building.” The days of elegance were over.

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3 Riverside Drive, The Kleeberg Residence

A Fit of the Blues and Recurring Dizziness…

In 1919, two decades after the fact, The Northeastern Reporter explained the rise of a string of lavish mansions at the foot of Riverside Drive, all designed separately by a single architect. “In 1896 one John S. Sutphen was the owner of the entire block between Seventy-Second and Seventy-Third streets fronting on Riverside Drive. He formed a general plan to improve and develop the land, and filed in the office of the register a map dividing it into lots.” The first sale, according to the Reporter was in June, 1896, including a plot “to one Kleeberg.” Construction of 3 Riverside Drive took two years and as it neared completion, The Real Estate Record & Builders’ Guide gave a hint at the high-end details when it reported that the Hernsheim Architectural Iron Works was at work on a “bronze vestibule gate for the handsome dwelling No. 3 Riverside Drive, Chas. P. H. Gilbert, architect.” Construction was completed in 1898 and the Kleebergs, who had lived at 56 East 73rd Street, now defected in a nearly straight line across the park. Whereas the mansion was solid, the Kleebergs’s marriage may have been a bit shaky.

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30 W. 72nd Street

Old, and New Deals

Born in Mannheim, Germany in 1856, Henry Morgenthau came to America as a boy with his large family (he was one of 11 children) in 1866. Although educated as a lawyer, Henry’s fortune came mostly through real estate. In 1882 he married Josephine Sykes. The couple had four children, Helen, Alma, Henry Jr. and Ruth. At the turn of the century, the neighborhood of West 72nd Street and Central Park West was elegant and refined. In August 1904, Morgenthau purchased the vintage, four-story brownstone at 30 West 72nd Street, demolished it, and then hired the architectural firm of Buchman & Fox to design a high-end residence on the site. The old house had cost $80,000, and construction costs of the structure were $70,000, bringing the total outlay to about $4.65 million in today’s dollars. Faced in stone and completed the following year, it was a reserved take on the French-inspired Beaux Arts style. A dog-legged stoop rose to the rusticated parlor level. The three upper levels, which sat upon a prominent bracketed cornice, featured an angled bay at the second floor with an elaborately carved arched pediment. A stone balustrade created a balcony at the third floor. Henry Jr. was 14-years old when the family moved in. The privileged boy got in trouble almost immediately.

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50 W. 72nd Street

Gangsters and Showgirls–often Both!

By the mid-1920’s the rows of fashionable private residences that had lined West 72nd Street at the turn of the century were being replaced with commercial and modern residential buildings. In 1926 a group of investors, the 48-56 West 72nd Street Corp., hired the architectural firm of Sugarman & Berger to design a residential hotel on the former site of five high-stoop houses. Residential hotels differed from apartment buildings in that they offered the services of a hotel—maid service, for instance—and did away with kitchens and dining rooms in the suites. Residents ate in a large restaurant-like dining room or had meals delivered to their rooms. The concept eliminated the need for most personal servants. Several of the residents of the Hotel Ogden were in the entertainment business. One was Annette Jenkins who had given up her career in motion pictures when she married aviator and engineer George Jenkins. She had not given up her close contacts in the field, however, and on Christmas Eve 1928 she drove motion picture promoter Harry Richards and his sister, Mrs. Lotta Groves, in her automobile to a Bronxville party.

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53 W. 72nd Street

Singers and Sinners

Leopold Friedman was a partner in the real estate firm Lespinasse & Friedman, perhaps best known for erecting the massive Navarro Apartments on Seventh Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets. On occasion he would take on a project on his own, however, and such was the case in 1888 when he purchased the northeast corner of Columbus Avenue and 72nd Street as the site for an apartment and store building to be called The Janet. Friedman would not see the structure completed, however. On January 12, 1889 the Record & Guide reported that Lespinasse & Friedman had “suffered a great loss in the decease of its junior member, Mr. Leopold Friedman.” Before the end of the year The Janet was ready for occupancy. Seven stories tall and designed by Charles Buek & Co. its red brick façade was splashed with Queen Anne style terra cotta decorations. Bands of flowery tiles, decorative panels, and arched pediments adorned the building. Most striking of all were the two blind openings on the 72nd Street elevation. Filled with fruits and flowers they sat upon half-round bowls and wore classical triangular pediments. Living here in 1921 were operatic baritone Luigi Cavedini and his wife Angelica. Both were known to opera goers by their stage names, Mario Laurenti and Angelea Laurenti. Domestic upheaval erupted that summer after Luigi went to their country bungalow at West Hurley, New York alone. Suspicious of what he was up to, Angelica soon followed. She crept into the dark house on the night of July 11 where, according to The Standard Union newspaper, “she saw the singer and an Italian woman in a compromising position.”

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1 West 72nd Street/121 Central Park West - The Dakota

Clark's "Family Hotel"
If a stitch in time saves nine, imagine what the Singer Sewing Machine magnate can achieve when they decide to develop a site in the northern hinterlands of West 72nd Street! The Dakota set the bar for modern apartment living in its day and still leaves those who pass by in awe. Imagine the stories those walls could tell. . .
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15 W. 72nd Street

Belgian Sweets, Vienese Sights, & Russian Sounds
This private oasis for the well-heeled Dakota residents flipped to the tallest west side post-war building of its day. While it won't be winning any architectural awards this site hosts its own stellar cross-section of UWS notables with several emigres establishing themselves in the new world and leaving their mark on New York Society.
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37 W. 72nd Street

A "more pleasing type" of architecture
Open in time for the Stock Market Crash of 1929, 37 West 72nd Street's residents were buffered from the economic impacts, but not all were as lucky. Take the doorman, former vaudeville actor Harry Glaser or his common-law wife, Mona who spent her days as a hotel chambermaid. This building laid bare its own tale of two cities...
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133 W. 72nd Street

Especially for Doctors, Specialists, Dentists
This fine residence gave way to references of the medieval Cluny Palace in Paris. With rental spaces "fitted for “gas, compressed air, X-Ray wiring, [and] telephone connections,” the operating rooms were equipped for minor operations. Perhaps to prevent unwanted stains, the floors were “ox-blood tiled.”
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137 and 139 W. 72nd Street

Fit for a Governor
When not on his sprawling estate in Ridgefield Connecticut, or in the Adirondack Mountains, or in Florida, Phineas Chapman Lounsbury and his wife, the former Jennie Wright made do at 137 West 72nd street following their stint in the Connecticut Governor's mansion. While they set the genteel tone for the buildings, 68-year old resident of 139, Clara Seabury who "adopted" 40-year old Albert turned heads...
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141 W. 72nd Street

Engagements: Broken and Otherwise
Signor Antonio Scotti, the well-known baritone of the Metropolitan Opera Company, married Miss Mary Britton Leary, not long graduated from the Convent of the Sacred Heart. Before long, her own heart would be broken as the Opera singer disappeared from her life without an encore. Years later, the Viennese Wiener Kaffeehouse Éclair filled the void at street level and warmed hearts of those yearning for nostalgia of home.
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143 W. 72nd Street

A Victorian Dowager in a Jazz Age Dress
These Daughters of the American Revolution took in boarders and then a $9,800 price chop (more than $280,000 drop in current dollars) on their family mansion at 143 West 72nd Street. The winning bid went to Doctor William Broadus Pritchard, who famously analyzed Harry K. Thaw in the "Murder of the Century" case about the assassination of archtiect Stanford White.
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159 W. 72nd Street

Provident Paint
Following the Financial Panic of 1893, the Mayor’s Relief Committee, encouraged the passage by the legislature that incorporated the Provident Loan Society of New York on May 21, 1894. This society offered hope to those in need with what one might deem "micro loans" in today's terms to cover their debts. Today people visit to cover their walls with paint. The building has been refaced, but the ceiling holds secrets of its past life.
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163 W. 72nd Street

Fewer Stories, More Character
After this private home gave way to the New York Conservatory for Music as its encore, before developers replaced it amidst shakey economic conditions. The new two story Art-deco taxpayer housed offices and a home for a Singer Showroom.
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165 W. 72nd Street

The Arts & Crafts Style Pease & Elliman Building
Whereas other mansions along the street lost their stoops and remodeled to accomodate storefronts and often boarders, number 165 chose to reface its base with Arts and Crafts Tile. Intricate Celtic knots, depictions of medieval lions and knights, and stylized flowers decorated individual tiles. Above the ground floor storefront a long panel depicted a feudal town in the Biblical inscription Letificat Civitatem Dei, or “Makes Glad the City of God.” What were they covering?
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200 W. 72nd Street

Lost Colonial Times
This out-of-place Club that was too-far west, too-far north broke the rules, admitting women, shunning its younger members, and before very long broke itself. The well-heeled could not keep it afloat yet the structure stood for over a century. There is no mention if the developers who replaced it recovered the cornerstone which held a copper box containing "club manuals and documents, a photograph of General Sherman’s funeral passing Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, a Civil War badge of the Grand Army of the Republic, copies of various newspapers and poems written by member William M. Kerr to “Our Children’s Children’s Children.”
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201 W. 72nd Street

The News Reel Theater or The Hotel St. Andrew?
This out-of-place Club that was too-far west, too-far north broke the rules, admitting women, shunning its younger members, and before very long broke itself. The well-heeled could not keep it afloat yet the structure stood for over a century. There is no mention if the developers who replaced it recovered the cornerstone which held a copper box containing "club manuals and documents, a photograph of General Sherman’s funeral passing Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, a Civil War badge of the Grand Army of the Republic, copies of various newspapers and poems written by member William M. Kerr to “Our Children’s Children’s Children.”
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214 W. 72nd Street

Dorothy Parker's Childhood Home
"What fresh hell is this?" Imagine what would Dorothy Parker have to say about her childhood home, run by her stepmother demolished and replaced with a sliver in her name? As for this entry, she might quip “I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true.”
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228 W. 72nd Street

A Fine Residence, for a Short Time
Number 228 was arguably the finest among over 175 constructions by George C. Edgar's Sons & Co. But its life as a fine residence would be short, serving several stints as various schools, a women's hotel, and even home to a boarding house with a Count and Countess in residence. In later years, a smear campaign tried to discredig prize fighter Carey Phelan's reputation. What opinon would NY Supreme Court Justice Martin J. Koegh, the first resident have about all these developments?

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230 W. 72nd Street

Medical Quack and a Butcher's Dose of Reality
The butchers at Fischer Brothers & Leslie of 230 West 72nd Street have seen a lot in their more than seven decades of business, but they aren't afraid of looters. “So they break in. What are they going to steal? Meat? Let them take it.”
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243 W. 72nd Street

The Kate E. Morgan House
A jealous chemist–or druggist–by profession, Albert J. Morgan had access to deadly chemicals and, as it turned out, he was not a man to be crossed. In 1898, after he became engaged in a feud with Harry Seymour Cornish, the athletic director of the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, he mailed a bottle of Emerson’s Bromo-Seltzer to Cornish’s attention at the Club. Molineux had mixed the medicine with cyanide of mercury, but unknowingly administred it to his cousin, Katherine Adams to soothe her headache...
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247-249 W. 72nd Street

A Baby Saved, A Mother Arrested
While the maid had one child, hers is the key story of these sibling buildings--discovered by muffled cries coming from the furnace. Before the owners smoked out the source, the baby was saved and mother arrested. While other residents tended to tamer pursuits, these twins may have been similar, but each had their own personality.
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251 W. 72nd Street

A Widow with Life Insurance
Let's hope the widow of Joseph F. Knapp who was the president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company had Life Insurance before he died on the steamship while at sea. She parlayed a house trade for a new Lamb & Rich concoction bringing her into the center of it all, before she traded again. The Bigelows were the sustaining family, while others tred more lightly...
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250-254 W. 72nd Street

An Upscale Boarding House Meets a Gentleman Robber
Still rather grand private homes, Number 250 was already being operated as an upscale boarding house by “Mrs. Morse.” Her boarders allegedly came from the upper crust. One was Mr. Lawrence Macy--a gentleman confessed to robbing 15 women. When finally apprehended after “a long chase on the roof of a house in the Elizabeth Street Precinct,” in August of 1895. The total value of his loot was estimated to be around $5,000.
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265 W. 72nd Street

The Incident of the Revolving Door
In 1909 Moses Greenwood, Jr. and his wife, the former Margaret Woods went for a night out, but the former got knocked out. Just as Henry P. Hopkins was trying to keep up, he needed to get ahead to flee the chase of policemen. By the end of the night, neither man was a gentleman, and neither achieved what they bargained for.
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271 W. 72nd Street

The Aldrich Mansion
Some express riders from the Bronx felt others were not keeping approriate social distances so out came the knife and Vernon Graham knocked Mary McAuley to the station platform. The pursuit ensued and the Aldrich Mansion had an unwitting starring role. How so?
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309 W. 72nd Street

Town Topics Tragedy
Town Topics was read with delicious zeal. Those at the highest levels trembled in fear of being mentioned in William Dalton Mann’s scathing columns. He rarely printed names; but gave tantalizing and obvious clues like “though unfortunately a woman, is not an American, but a specimen of British aristocracy.”
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311 W. 72nd Street

Twilight Sleep and Other Unwarranted "Advances"
Built for the daughter of the David S. Brown & Company soap firm, this life of the Sutphen house is a bit of its own soap opera. Residents banded together to stop a neighboring sanitorium, because “The business is noxious and offensive to the neighboring land owners.”
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338 W. 72nd Street

An Education in Law, Liturgy, Opera and Art
Now hemmed-in, the Fowler Residence at 338 West 72nd Street was hiding in plain site but maintained several secrets. In November 1906, the 72nd Street house would be the scene of an undercover wedding. The Rev. D. John Wesley Hill, pastor of the 2,000-member Janes Methodist Episcopal Church in the Stuyvesant Heights section of Brooklyn, had been widowed for about three years. A romance developed between him and a member of the congregation, Mrs. Theodore Schmidt, who had also lost her spouse...
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344 W. 72nd Street

The Chatsworth: Where to Kidnap a Detective
There's a lot chat-worthy about the Chatsworth. The 66 apartments formed a self-sufficient structure that had its own lighting and refrigerating plant. Residents would enjoy a conservatory in the upper floor of the mansard roof “and is furnished as a sun-parlor for the comfort and convenience of the tenants,” said The World’s New York Apartment House Album. There was also a billiard room, café, barbershop, and tailor and hairdressing services...
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105 W. 72nd Street

Churrigueresque & Cherished Chows
This churrigueresque”–over-the-top version Spanish Baroque–the brick, stone and terra cotta ornamentation guards an armada of stories--and mainly spurned lovers within its walls, but all is not dour. The building has more secrets to share as it winks at the pedestrians who pass by from its Art Nouveau storefronts...
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1 Riverside Drive, The Prentiss Residence

Land Covenants and Seized Property

The anchor of Riverside Drive with the prestigious address of #1 was part of a site plan conceived years in advance. Protecting the sanctity of the environs, land covenants were set prohibiting the erection of a slaughterhouse, brewery, livery stable, carpenter shop, nail factory, sugar refinery, menagerie “or any other manufactory, trade business, or calling which may be in anywise dangerous, noxious, or offensive to the neighboring inhabitants.” What could go wrong?

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Want to learn even more?  Watch blogger Tom Miller’s talk,

                          West 72nd: Queen of Streets

from our Programs Library.

Available for free to all current LANDMARK WEST! members by following THIS LINK.

And check back soon as we add more stops to our 72nd Street Crosstown tour. 

Many thanks to Claudie Benjamin, Annie Noramon Bodhidatta, Joe Kizner, and Tom Miller for making this project possible.

72 Crosstown website and logo design:
KG Design International

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