New York City apartment buildings offer the best of everything: views, style, amenities, services, space, location, prestige...
CityRealty's residential architecture expert, Carter B. Horsley, has reviewed and compiled definitive Top 10 lists for every aspect of New York City apartment living and architecture. If you're looking for the right New York City apartment building with the best of something special you want in a home, or you just need to know who has the most spectacular rooftop decks in the city or the most incredible gargoyles, the CityRealty Top 10 lists let you know where it's at.
This year Macy's is switching its sensational fireworks display back from the Hudson River to the East River and around Lower Manhattan rather around 23rd Street. Many people swarm along the FDR Drive but the South Street Seaport pier is now a construction zone. Even if vantage points are hard to come by, the pyrotechnics are so stupendous that they can be heard rattling the souls and memories of most New Yorkers and Brooklynites.
Back in the 1960s, lofts were dusty and drafty places at the top of a very steep flight, or two, of wooden, dimly-lit stairs on some forsaken street off the grid in Lower Manhattan. It was where old ladies and young girls sweated, churning out haberdashery, or shirts, or the like. All that changed when some near starving artists decided to camp out and live and work in these dingy spaces that could accommodate large works of what some called art. They were illegal, squatters, some with style. Before long, of course, the city passed laws to make it legal if one was a certified artist to live and work in these spaces. Galleries soon came to discover and exploit new artists and then the cafes and restaurants and collectors and boutiques to extract from the collectors left-over change. Then, landlords realized that all this creativity was increasing property values, especially once someone noticed that the buildings looked pretty good when cleaned up and restored. Thus was born SoHo, NoHo, NoLiTa, and TriBeCa, all of which are now the city's hottest and most desirable neighborhoods for the young and affluent and hip and fashion-obsessed. It's pretty hard to find the artists anymore for all the programmers, bankers and 1 percenters who now roam these precincts.
Thanksgiving Day in New York City is usually bitterly chilly. For those not prepared to bundle up and brave the crowds nothing could be better than watching the always fabulous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from apartments along the route. Of course, we are talking about watching it live, out the window, not on the tele, and with the windows open at least a crack to hear the roar of the mobs of young people held by their loving elders. The best views are not always from the penthouses but from mid-building, an up-close-and-personal perspective that most pedestrians can't appreciate.
The Top 10 New York City condo apartment buildings in Midtown East are some of the most prestigious in the city because of their prime locations. Trump Tower, Olympic Tower and the Galleria at 117 East 57th Street all took advantage of new zoning provisions aimed at promoting mixed-use skyscrapers.
The Top 10 New York City condos west of Broadway on the Upper West Side are surprisingly pretty fairly split between pre- and post-war apartment buildings and those on Riverside Drive, Riverside Boulevard and West End Avenue. The top building is The Heritage at Trump Place at 245 Riverside Boulevard at the base of Riverside Drive because of its commanding vistas both of Riverside Park and the Hudson River. 222 Riverside Drive takes top honor for Riverside Drive because it gracefully mimics its pre-ward cohorts on the elegant thoroughfare. 640 West End Avenue reminds us that West End Avenue is the city's most cohesive and elegant avenue with fine pre-war buildings on both sides of the two-way street.
Since it was built in 2007, 15 Central Park West has been the talk of the town as the top of any list of the Top 10 most prestigious New York City condo apartment buildings. Had it been built 20 years or so earlier – before its two neighbors to the south, Trump International Hotel & Tower and the Time Warner Center, had been built - it might not have been so successful. One could argue that its Post-Modern design by Robert A. M. Stern was just what buyers were yearning for, but most of the area's most prestigious condos are modern and not Post-Modern, at least around Central Park. Its location and amenities certainly help push it over the top. Post-Modern design, of course, met with considerable success at many of Donald Trump's towers along Riverside Boulevard facing the Hudson River were they were designed by architect Costas Kondylis.
There is something intangible about a driveway that adds glamour to a New York City apartment building. Perhaps it's the fact that residents and guests don't have to hurdle puddles in their party dresses. Perhaps it's because the hoi polloi, and the paparazzi, can be often kept at bay, at least psychologically, from penetrating too deeply onto the driveway's sidewalk. A mere driveway without a marquee or canopy, of course, would hardly do, in terms of protection from the elements. The most discrete take you inside the building's courtyard.
The Top 10 Lobbies in New York City apartment buildings pack a lot of surprises. No Plain-Jane-Brown-Paper-Wrapper spaces, these! We talking gilded mosaic barrel vaults conjuring St. Mark's in Venice and angled, multi-level spaces with soaring, skylit atriums, and babbling brooks, and huge coat-rooms overlooking gardens and the East River, and cavernous halls fit for pharaohs, and large gray marble mausoleum-like rooms fit for the stars of the silent screen.
Just suppose you had a gigantic, shiny, metallic sculpture by Jeff Koons. Where would you put it? Aerial photographers would tell you to find an extremely large penthouse terrace on Sutton Place to show off your prized art work to your higher neighbors. The penthouse at the Pierre Hotel has a very large ballroom but quite small corner terraces with huge urns not filled with oil to ward off assaults. For some, the lure of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon results in loggias and pergolas such as can be found at 1040 Fifth Avenue and 15 Central Park West.
It doesn't hurt to be across from the only real zoo in Manhattan, the only real model sailboat house in Manhattan, and the city's most impressive museum. And if you have Pale Male's seal of approval – a nest – you can't lose. There's really no secret here for the Top Ten Fifth Avenue Apartment Buildings, just very, very, very good credit.
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