Beauty is Truth
I am often asked if I live in a constant state of real estate envy. After all, so the thinking goes, I must see so much beautiful property that I am constantly burdened by desire. In fact, I’m not. My wife and I live happily in the same spacious but essentially modest apartment we bought 37 years ago. But over the years I have seen some great stuff, which has excited my acute appreciation for the aesthetics of space. A great layout, good proportions, and wonderful detailing can leave me with the same satisfied feeling as contemplating a Rembrandt portrait or a Helen Frankenthaler print. And as you will see, I am a sucker for a staircase! Here are some of my all-time favorites, in no particular order:
•The A and B lines at 610 West End Avenue –These enormous and quirky apartments are hidden behind an unprepossessing façade on the southeast corner of 90th Street. The architects, George and Edward Blum, created a handful of unique, high ceilinged apartment buildings scattered around the Upper East and Upper West Sides. The A line at 610 is a cavernous duplex, while the B is a simplex; the layout of each showcases an enfilade of three vast entertaining rooms opening one off the other.(Link to floor plan A, Link to floor plan B)
•The Delano and Aldrich townhouse at 120 East 78th Street-Behind its simple red brick façade with the indented niche and the semi-circular stair, this house, although only 18 feet wide, has an exquisite interior with grandly proportioned rooms, high ceilings, and beautiful detailing. In the core of the building rises a perfect wood and wrought iron demi-lune staircase which ascends all the way to the top.
•The K line duplexes on the north side of the Beresford-As with all Central Park West buildings, the showiest apartments at 211 Central Park West are in the front. But in the K line, at the northwest corner of the building, the top eight floors are occupied by four wonderful, unconventional duplexes, each different from the one below as the building sets back more and more, each with terraces, uniquely shaped living rooms with window on both the north and south sides, and a wonderful feeling of floating in a cocoon of light and air. One of architect Emory Roth’s great flights of imagination!
•Almost anything at 1220 Park Avenue-The least grandiose of Rosario Candela’s Park and Fifth Avenue monoliths, 1220 Park, at the northwest corner of 95th Street, also benefits from the copious southern light pouring into most apartments because of the low lying Armory across the street. Perhaps because of the location, everything about these wonderfully proportioned apartments feels cozier than their grander downtown siblings. (Link to floor plan)
•The unique layouts at 35 and 45 East 9th Street-The entire building is replete with four and five room apartments with story-and-a-half high living rooms, charming little half-circle balconies, and wood-burning fireplaces. And the location, in the central Village close to everything, is unbeatable. (Link to floor plan)
I could go on all day about wonderful properties I have been lucky enough to see over the years. And if any of you readers are contemplating a purchase, make sure you insist on seeing the properties which are a little off the beaten path. Gems are hiding everywhere around the city, but sometimes you have to search to find them. It’s always worth the trouble.
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