4. The Ansonia, 1 W 72nd Street
The Ansonia about 1904. Image from Library of Congress
In the early 1900’s, eccentric real estate developer William Earl Dodge Stokes had a vision that the Grand Boulevard, as Broadway was known as at the time, would become the Champs-Élysées of New York. He wanted to build the boulevard’s grandest hotel. Stokes had been piecing together parcels of land from the former site of the New York Orphan Asylum at 73rd Street for years and in 1899, he broke ground on the The Ansonia Hotel.
French architect and student of the École des Beaux-Arts, Paul E.M. Duboy designed the hotel, which opened in 1904. The steel framed structure was 550,000-square-feet with 1,400 rooms and 340 suites spread throughout 17 stories. Notable guests included Babe Ruth (who would walk around in his silk bathrobe) and Igor Stravinsky. Stokes named the building after his grandfather, industrialist Anson Greene Phelps. Stokes, after his mother Caroline Phelps and along with his eight brothers and sisters, was heir to a fortune from the Ansonia Copper and Brass Co., which Anson Greene Phelps founded in 1845 on the banks of the Naugatuck River in Connecticut.
In the 1970s, The Ansonia was converted into 430 rental apartments, but throughout its history, it has been the site of many scandalous events, stories and businesses which you can read more about here.