The Ansonia about 1904, image via Library of Congress
If there is one building that epitomizes the Upper West Side’s bohemian origins, it just might be The Ansonia with its rather scandalous and off-beat reputation. The Ansonia has been home to such a wide range of characters–from Babe Ruth to Igor Stravinsky to Natalie Portman–that it’s not surprising what an illustrious backstory it has. We decided to take a look back at a wonderful feature from New York Magazine in 2005 that revisits the ups and downs of the historic building (which had 1,400 rooms and 320 suites!) and share with you some of the most wild facts about the building.
Gameplay from the 1919 World Series. Image via retro.cincinnati.com
The Ansonia had always been popular amongst athletes and the mixing between professional sports and the mafia found a match in 1919, when a group of White Sox players agreed to lose the upcoming World Series for $10,000 a player in the room of baseman Arnold “Chick” Gandil. The operation was bankrolled by Arnold Rothstein, a racketeer who was the inspiration for mobster Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby. Rothstein re-entered our cultural consciousness most recently as a character in Boardwalk Empire. For all the plotting, apparently the players didn’t practice to lose convincingly and after their 5-3 loss, they came under suspicion. Steven Gaines of New York Magazine calls it “baseball’s biggest scandal ever.”