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Aerial View of Charles M. Schwab MansionImage via NYC-Architecture

Like everywhere else in Manhattan, the Upper West Side and Manhattan began as bucolic farmland, settled with farmhouses and later large mansions away from the commercial fray downtown. Grand mansions were built from the Revolutionary era through the Gilded Age, by a variety of characters ranging from robber barons to respected surgeons. Famous names like Boss Tweed, John James Audubon, A.T. Tewaert, CKG Billings and Charles Ward Apthrop once graced these halls, but their homes all fell to the same fate–the wrecking ball.

1. Charles M. Schwab Mansion

Charles M. Schwab House-Riverside Drive-Demolished-NYCImage via Library of Congress

Charles W. Schwab was president of U.S. Steel (founded by Andrew Carnegie) and also founded Bethlehem Steel Company. On Riverside Drive between 73rd Street and 74th Street, he built a 75-room mansion in a French chateau style over the course of four years from 1902 to 1906. He dubbed it Riverside, giving a nod to its great views of the Hudson River. Schwab was also the first to acquire an entire block in Manhattan, according to The New York TimesThe 50,000 square foot abode came replete with a pool, a bowling alley, a gaym and three elevators. As late as 1930, Schwab still staffed the mansion with 20 servants, mostly English-born. Schwab ended up going bankrupt, and according to this personal story, a Boticelli was smuggled out of the mansion and sold, which kept Schwab going financially for the remainder of his life.

Schwab tried to sell his home and property to the city as a mayoral residence but Fiorelli LaGuardia refused to live in it. In 1948, it was demolished and replaced with an apartment building.

Charles A. Schwab Mansion-1915-Riverside Drive-UWS-NYCImage via Office for Metropolitan History

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4 Comments

  1. K says:

    Interesting..

  2. Ron says:

    Great Post and PhHtos!
    Was Audubon’s house on Audubon Terrace?

    A.T. Stewart, who was owed the value of the furnishings for the Metropolitan Hotel? What does that mean?

    • michelle young says:

      Hi Ron, Audubon’s house was between 155th St and 156th Street west of Riverside Drive (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/27/realestate/27scap.html). If this is correct, then his house was just west of the present day Audubon Terrace.

      Regarding A.T. Stewart, he got the house because Boss Tweed owed him money for furnishing the Metropolitan Hotel.

      • Ron says:

        Thanks. Of course, Chris G would have the answer. Good article. Poor Audubon. Funny that he does not mention Wheelcock mansion in his article.”Restless in the confines of the built-up city, Audubon bought a tract on the Hudson River between 155th and 158th Streets around 1840 and soon built a two-story frame house facing the river. Period accounts say the woodlands teemed with muskrats, otters, martens, elk and other animals.
        He named the estate Minniesland, after his wife, Lucy…”

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