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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image Living Together Explosion of Apartment Houses
The Dorilton
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Explosion of Apartment Houses
The Dorilton
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One of the most noticeable of this wave of apartment houses is a building called the Dorilton on Broadway at Seventy-first Street, which was built in about 1900 and was designed by Janes and Leo. The Dorilton takes French ideas and uses them in a more ornate matter than any French architect would have done. There are probably more cartouches on this building than on any building in Paris.

This was a building with its enormous mansard roof that was noticed at the time. It's hard not to notice this building, as Montgomery Schuyler, the architecture critic for the Architectural Record noted. He said that "It was a most questionable and question-provoking edifice in the guise of an apartment house. It not merely solicits but demands attention. It yells 'Come and look at me' so loud that the preoccupied or even the color blind can not choose but hear."

And I think that was of course part of the point. This is a building that was meant to be noticed. This was a competitive market in apartment buildings, you wanted to be able to rent your apartments, so you made the building noticeable. So as Montgomery Schuyler notes, "Even if you were dozing off on a streetcar you'd be jerked awake when you passed a building like this."

You enter this building through sort of French rococo gates into a nice spacious courtyard, into a lobby with marble on the walls. And there are two elevator banks, and each elevator takes you up to two apartments. So there are four apartments on each floor, two at each elevator.

And by the time the Dorilton had been built, the idea of the apartment plan had finally been perfected so that the Dorilton separates the public rooms (the parlor, the library, and the dining room) from the private rooms (the bedrooms), and from the service spaces. And the kitchen is close to the dining room, and it doesn't have long halls that run through the entire apartment so that the public rooms flow very nicely one into another. And this type of building—this was not the first—marks the perfection of the apartment-house plan for the upper-middle class because still this wave of apartment houses was still for the upper middle class. The very wealthy still were avoiding apartment houses. They could afford to continue building single-family homes.

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