In the Bronx, no building surpassed the height of Immaculate Conception Church’s spire for eighty years. Measuring 227-feet tall, the church was one of the tallest buildings in all of New York City when it was built in 1888, coming in just a few feet short of a handful of Manhattan buildings. As the city continued to grow upward, the church became dwarfed by skyscrapers but wasn’t officially dethroned by another Bronx structure until 1968. New York City writer and city planner Jeff Reuben has taken a hard look at buildings in the Bronx that have claimed to be the tallest. In an upcoming virtual talk, Jeff will explore the buildings that came up short and those that took the title, as each reveals an important aspect of Bronx history. Below, Jeff helped us identify the current top five tallest buildings in the borough!
1. River Park Towers, 428 feet tall
The River Park Towers are currently the Bronx’s tallest buildings and have been since 1974. The complex is made of four towers broken into two clusters—the tallest buildings in each cluster stretch to 428 feet or 44 stories. Located at 10-40 Richman Plaza, the towers were built within the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park along the Harlem River.
Designed by Davis, Brody, and Associates, the waterfront buildings boast 1,654 apartments with diverse sizes and floor plans. The varying floor plans are influenced by the building’s exterior design. At the corners of the building, lower floors are set back while upper floors extend outward. These recesses and protrusions occur at various heights around the building. The tops of the buildings are wider than the bottoms, showing a departure from setbacks used in the Art Deco style of earlier apartment buildings and the first skyscrapers.
2. Tracey Towers, 380-400 feet tall
The two Paul Rudolph designed buildings of Tracey Towers were the tallest in the Bronx in 1973, before being surpassed by River Park Towers. At 20 W. Mosholu Parkway South, Tower I measures 400 feet tall with 41-stories, while Tower II at 40 W. Mosholu Parkway South is 380 feet tall with 38 stories.
Tracey Towers is a publicly-subsidized apartment complex built above part of the Jerome Yard, a large subway train storage facility. It is also near active train tracks, which forced the construction upwards rather than outwards over the active rails. Rudolph’s towers are known not for their height, however, as much as for their design. The facade is covered in Rudolph’s signature grooved “corduroy concrete.” The exterior features a mixture of curved and flat walls that end at various heights to create a jagged roofline. The modernist design has been both praised and derided by architecture critics and the general public.
3. Co-op City, 338 feet tall
Co-op City was the first building in the Bronx to surpass the height of Immaculate Conception Church. Construction on Co-op City began in 1968 and didn’t end until 1972. Of the complex’s thirty-five buildings, the fifteen tallest are the Towers. The Towers reach a height of 338 feet or 33 stories. Co-op City had a short run at the top of the tallest building list, as it was surpassed in 1973 when Tracey Towers topped out.
Designed by Herman J. Jessor, Co-op City constitutes its own neighborhood. It even has its own zip code, power plant, and library. It is comprised of ten 24-story “Chevrons,” ten 26-story “Triple Cores,” and fifteen 33-story “Towers.” There are 15,372 units of housing within Co-op city as well as shopping centers, houses of worship, schools, public parks, and parking garages.
4. Keith Plaza Apartments, 328 feet tall
The Keith Plaza Apartments never held the title of the Bronx’s tallest since they were constructed after Co-op City, but they fall into the 4th slot on our list. Built in 1975, the Keith Plaza Apartments rise to 328 feet or 30 stories. This Southern Boulevard apartment complex was constructed under the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program as a workforce housing development. The Mitchell-Lama program was signed into law in 1955 to provide “affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income families.”
In 2016, the property was acquired by the Hudson Valley Property Group and Phoenix Realty Group who conducted a $10 million renovation project to upgrade the apartment unit amenities, common areas of the building, exterior grounds, and safety systems.
5. Promenade Nelson Apartments, 325 Feet Tall
Courtesy of Nelson Management Group
The Promenade Nelson Apartments at 150 W. 225th Street come in just a few feet shy of the Keith Plaza Apartments. Built in 1975, the apartment building tops out at 325 feet or 32 stories tall. Perched on the waterfront in Marble Hill, residents have views down to lower Manhattan, up to the George Washington Bridge, and over Van Cortlandt Park, and the New York Botanical Garden. Every residence has a balcony so the views can be taken advantage of fully.
The Promenade was acquired by Nelson Management and L+M Development in 2013 and underwent an extensive renovation. The upgrades included landscaping and seating along the 5-acre waterfront, an all-new lobby, and a redesign of amenity and residential spaces.
Learn more about the Bronx’s tallest buildings in our upcoming virtual talk, Tops in the Bronx, on Friday, January 29th! This live event is free for Untapped New York Insiders! Become a member today, starting at just $10/month.
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