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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image Living Together Speculation in Apartment Houses
Apartment Architects
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Speculation in Apartment Houses
Apartment Architects
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[And just] as a group of architects specialized in the construction of speculative row houses so too there were a group of architects who specialized in the construction of apartment buildings. So the three firms Schwartz and Gross, Neville and Bagge, and George Pelham probably designed over 50 percent of the apartment houses that were built in New York in the early twentieth century. And other firms like George and Edward Blum and Gaetan Ajello also contributed large numbers of buildings. And just like the architects of speculative row houses, these were not in general the best-trained architects. Few apartment-house architects went to America's new architecture schools, few of them studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. Either they trained in other architectural offices, or like Schwartz and Gross they studied at the Hebrew Technical Institute.

And so apartment houses really need to be seen as a continuation of the speculative building that really created New York. It was the speculative builders of row houses and apartment houses who built the vast majority of the buildings in New York City. And it is to them that we owe a great debt because they created the streetscapes that we know and in many cases love today.

This is Claremont Avenue on Morningside Heights. Morningside Heights was the first apartment-house neighborhood in New York. After the subway opened in 1904, the neighborhood within a few years was entirely lined with apartment houses, all built by speculative developers and all designed by a limited number of apartment-house architects who specialized in this kind of work.

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