2. The Astor, 1901

Courtesy of Williams New York

On his deathbed, the patriarch of the Astor family, John Jacob Astor reportedly said “Could I begin life again, knowing what I know now, I would buy every foot of land on the island of Manhattan.” The scope of the Astors‘ real estate empire stretches from Queens to Harlem and many vestiges remain to this day including such famous buildings as the Waldorf-AstoriaAstor Place, the Public Theater (which was originally the Astor Library), and the Upper West Side apartment building, The Astor.

The apartments at 235 West 75th Street were among the first in the area. Built by William Waldorf Astor in 1901, the original two-towered, grey brick structure crowned by an elaborate decorative cornice was designed by architects Clinton and Russell. A third tower in the same style was added in 1914 with a matching design by the architecture firm of Peabody, Wilson and Brown.

The large penthouse-style apartments attracted wealthy businessmen who were drawn to the Upper West Side thanks to its close proximity to Central Park, the first subway line, and the bustling thoroughfare of Broadway. After the glory days of the Gilded Age, the building fell on hard times in the mid-twentieth century and was converted into a single-room-occupancy building.

The Astor Lobby, Photograph by Evan Joseph

Original Marble and mosaic tile details in the lobby

Today, The Astor has undergone an extensive renovation and redesign to bring back the splendor of the Gilded Age. Inside there are 98 new units designed by the illustrative firm of Pembrooke & Ives. While the units bare little resemblance to the originals of the early twentieth century, the lobby and exterior facade maintain many of their original historic features. On a recent tour of the building with Untapped Cities Insiders, we got a first hand look at the lobby’s marble fireplaces, benches and elegantly curved staircases as well as the intricate mosaic tile floors and restored decorative molding. The building retains much of its old world charm with added modern amenities like twenty-four-hour concierge, a gym and state-of-the-art interior enhancements.

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