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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
An Original Renting Plan
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Speculation in Apartment Houses
An Original Renting Plan
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Douglas Elliman, the developer of this project, wasn't sure that he would actually be able to attract very wealthy people to move into this building because it was really a novel idea for the very wealthy. So he came up with a very interesting renting plan. He decided that what he would do would be to offer a large apartment to a very prestigious member of New York society at an incredible bargain rate. And once they had moved in, everybody else would want to live in the building. So he offered an apartment to Elihu Root, a very famous New York jurist and society leader who had been living in a single-family house on Park Avenue, and Root and his family moved into the building and suddenly of course the building had social cachet, and members of the Guggenheim family and other prominent New York families moved into the building. And it was very successful.

And this building becomes a model for the apartment houses of the next two decades. The form of the building—the rectalineal boxy form, the use of horizontal Renaissance-inspired massing—become a model for middle-class apartment houses and apartment houses for the wealthy that would rise in the nineteen-teens and the 1920s on Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue, on West End Avenue, on Riverside Drive.

The typical building, though, is not entirely stone. Only the most expensive buildings are stone. Typically the lower floors are stone, often rusticated, and the upper floors are brick, sometimes ornamented with terra-cotta, and often there's a cornice, just like on 998 Fifth Avenue. And similarly on West End Avenue. One of the major differences is that on the East Side they have addresses and on the West Side they have addresses and names.


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