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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

1010 Fifth Avenue

Between East 81st Street & East 82nd Street

85
Carter Horsley
Review by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of CityRealty.com.
 

Directly across from the entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this sumptuous, 15-story co-operative building at 1010 Fifth Avenue on the northeast corner at 82nd Street was designed and erected in 1928 by famed developer Frederick Fillmore French, who would later build his own ornate office tower, the Fred F. French Building, at 551 Fifth Avenue, and the huge residential complexes of Tudor City and Knickerbocker Village, among other projects. 

The building, which has 70 apartments, was converted to a cooperative in 1979.

Bottom Line

With its handsome Italian Renaissance-style detailing, sidewalk landscaping and attractive sidestreet entrance, 1010 Fifth Avenue is one of the most classically elegant and luxurious addresses in the city.

Description

The building has a canopied, 1-step-up entrance on the sidestreet, sidewalk landscaping and a two-story entrance surround with rope quoins. 

The building has a rusticated four-story limestone base with bandcourses above the third and fourth floors and window surrounds on the fifth and 13th floors. The beige-brick façade has corner quoins and a cornice and permits window air-conditioners. 

There is a balustraded bandcourse above the 12th floor and a stringcourse above the 14th floor.

Amenities

The handsome building has a gym, a canopied entrance and a doorman. The building is pet-friendly.

Apartments

Apartment 8A is a four-bedroom unit with a 7-foot-long entry foyer that leads to a 16-foot-wide gallery that opens onto a 30-foot-long living room with a wood-burning fireplace next to an enclosure 21-foot-long dining room next to the 17-foot-kitchen and a 16-foot-long servant’s room.  The gallery also opens onto a 22-foot-long library.  The Fifth Avenue frontage is occupied by three of the bedrooms. 

Apartment 12B is a three-bedroom unit that has a 27-foot-long entrance gallery that opens onto a 30-foot-long living room with a wood-burning fireplace on the avenue, a 15-foot-long library with an adjoining bar, a 19-foot-square dining room next to a 25-foot-long kitchen with an island and a laundry room and a 10-foot-wide maid’s room. 

Apartment 6D is a two-bedroom unit with a 13-foot-long entrance gallery that leads to a 27-foot-long living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a 17-foot-long dining room, a butler’s pantry and a 17-foot-long kitchen.  The apartment also has a 12-foot-long office off the dining room and a small mud room off the kitchen. 

Apartment 8E is a one-bedroom unit with an entrance gallery that leads to a 21-foot-long  living/dining room with a decorative fireplace, a 8-foot-long kitchen, and a 13-foot-long den. 

Apartment 8C is a one-bedroom unit with a 14-foot-wide entry foyer than leads to a 25-foot-long living room with a fireplace and an 11-foot-loot long dining room with an open 9-foot-long kitchen.

History

In the early 1920's, penthouses were rare and not in vogue, but French built 1140 Fifth Avenue with a triplex penthouse for himself in 1922. A couple of years later, Conde Nast, the publisher, had the top of a new building at 1040 Park Avenue converted into a large penthouse that received wide publicity for his lavish parties and established penthouses as the ne plus ultra of apartment living. 

The 14-room penthouse at 1010 Fifth Avenue merited its own chapter, entitled "Penthouse Podium," in Andrew Alpern's fine book, "Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan, An Illustrated History," (Dover Publications, 1992), for its extensive landscaping. 

Alpern quotes a passage from an article that French's wife, Cordelia, wrote for the house publication of his firm describing the penthouse: "From both door and windows one may gaze upon a suburban scene, grass lawns, shrubs, trees, and a sprinkling of butterflies....At one end, the lion of the fountain looks benignly down upon a toy flotilla in the pool beneath. Here, far above the policeman's whistle, three little boys find a variety of outdoor games. Tired of shipping, they engage in fortress in the sandbox, with now and then a race up the awning strings with caterpillars....As the season changes and the snow flies, all hands are out with shovels and the hot water hose to make a clearing. Traffic relieved, attention is soon diverted to a snowman. But most welcome of all are the first days of spring. Every size and weight of garden tool is then employed as 'Dad' and his gang of youthful workmen mix soil with sand and fertilizer. What a joyful mixing performance it is! The earth is then distributed and each, standing in front of his own particular forcing box, sows his favorite seeds. A few weeks later the green young shoots are carefully removed from the boxes and planted in their permanent beds in the garden, just as it is done by the 'best families' down on the earth. A complete roof, it seems, should never be without a handball court. Here the tired business man, in his walled arena, is 'fattened for the slaughter' of the next business day. Here, before dinner, he gyrates with his trainer, getting up the all-essential 'good old sweat.' Mark you, however, he is a martyr, not a handball player, for play must ever be cloaked in the dignity of the preparation for work." 

Ah, the delights of urban living! 

Naturally, New York living is never simple, and Alpern recounts a prolonged dispute many years later over the penthouse garden, which reportedly required an extra 40 tons of structural steel to support its 135 tons of soil and greenery. 

The penthouse was initially protected from the elements by a 12-foot-high, steel-and-glass windscreen that was taken down, according to Alpern, in the 1940's, but restored to half its former height in 1988. French died in 1936. 

In 1979, the board of directors insisted on removing much of the penthouse’s planting because of problems in two apartments below. 

The penthouse garden was then restored, but the problems reappeared and were followed by lawsuits, Alpern continued, with engineers providing conflicting testimony and with the board of directors charging that the garden was not original. Research by architectural historian Christopher Gray, however, Alpern observed, showed that the garden was original with the building and a court ordered the board to make the repairs at its own expense and restore the planted areas. 

Other such disputes have occurred with other lovers of horticulture such as Stewart Mott who left one penthouse on Park Avenue to design the top four floors of the Galleria on East 57th Street with very extensive landscaping only to move to another penthouse on Fifth Avenue. 

Arthur Sulzberger, the former publisher of The New York Times, was a resident in the building. 

In 1944, a group headed by Oscar R. Chalk purchased the building from the Greenwich Savings Bank for $900,000 subject to a purchase-money mortgage of $700,000 taken back by the bank and a $90,000 mortgage taken by Bertha Rogers of Brooklyn.

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