11. The Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion, 742-748 Fifth Avenue

The Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion on 57th Street and 5th Avenue, now demolished. Photo from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The Cornelius Vanderbilt II House was a large mansion built in 1883 at 1 West 57th Street in the heart of Millionaire’s Row, constructed for Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Using the fortune he inherited from his grandfather, Cornelius purchased three brownstones on the corner of 57th Street and 5th Avenue, only to knock them down and build his own from scratch. The home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II was allegedly the largest single-family house in New York City at the time. Feeling that others were trying to outdo his house (including Alva), Cornelius and his wife Alice hired George B. Post to design the new mansion. They later enlisted Richard Morris Hunt to help Post make the mansion even larger in the 1890s.

Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s wife Alice was forced to sell the home in 1926 due to large commercial development projects nearby. After it was demolished, a realty corporation in its place built the Bergdorf Goodman department store, which still stands there today. Remnants of the mansion are also scattered around Manhattan, including the front gates that are now in Central Park, sculptural reliefs now in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, and a grand fireplace in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can learn more about the Vanderbilt houses and other Gilded Age mansions in our upcoming Archtober talk, Lost New York: The Mansions of Millionaire’s Row! Tickets are just $10 or free for Untapped New York Insiders!