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1040 Fifth Avenue

Between East 85th Street & East 86th Street

95
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.
 

One of the tallest apartment houses on Fifth Avenue, this prominent 17-story structure at 1040 Fifth Avenue on the northeast corner at 85th Street has one of the most distinctive rooflines along the avenue. 

The building, which was erected in 1930, was designed by Rosario Candela, one of the city's most important designers of luxury apartment buildings in the late 1920's and early 1930's. 

The large building has only 27 apartments and was converted to a co-operative in 1951.

Bottom Line

This very impressive limestone pile is definitely for the well-to-do who are oblivious to traffic and tourists.

Description

In his September 25, 2005 “Streetscapes” column in The New York Times, Christopher Gray remarked that “the romantic jumble of arcades, chimneys and portals at the tope is as picturesque as anything Candela ever did,” adding that “in recent times, some fortunate shareholder took over the triple-arcaded terrace at the top and enclosed it with great transparent panes – it was originally open to the weather at the east and west ends. It’s a glass house, in this case not modern, but classical-style.” 

The building is clad in limestone except for the pale-yellow-brick superstructure that encloses the building’s watertank. 

The handsome rooftop design is somewhat similar to the roof at Ten Gracie Square, which was erected in the same year and designed by Van Wart & Wein with Pennington & Lewis. 

The canopied entrance has very attractive cast-iron doors and extensive sidewalk landscaping. 

The façade, which has had many repairs, is relatively plain except for several sculpted faces at the fifth story and a flying buttress on the north side of the building. 

A November 16, 1930 article in The New York Times said that “one of the distinctive features of the new cooperative apartment house just completed by Anthony A. Paterno at 1040 Fifth Avenue…is the unusual size of the entrance hall, unbroken by supporting columns.”  The article described the hall as 40 by 22 feet and said it “represents eighteenth century English architecture, particularly that with which the name of Robert Adam is identified. It is a perfect rectangle of severe Georgian lines except for a typically Adam plaster ornamentation and stiles and ceiling. The decorative scheme was by Mayers, Minott & Co.“ 

A July 6, 1930 article in The Times about the building quoted Mr. Paterno as stating that “within the next few years we will be able to count on the fingers of two hands the private homes remaining on Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue.” 

“Modern living demands the simplified efficiency which the modern cooperative apartment affords and the practical elimination of worry over the servant problem.  A man feels foolish to spend money as extravagant as a private Fifth Avenue home demands. The time has come when an individual actually cannot for to worry over the maintenance of such an elaborate domicile, no matter how much money he has.  The servant problem, the coal problem, the sidewalk, the back yard – all these things are done for the present owner of the modern cooperative apartment and he does not have to think about them.” 

An October 26, 1930 article in The Times noted that the building “occupies the site of the old James B. Clews mansion on the corner, which plot was added the adjoining site on the north, where the home of Whitney Warren, architect, formerly stood. 

“Fifth Avenue is pre-eminently the historic residential thoroughfare of America,” Mr. Paterno states.  “Its palatial mansions have set architectural fashions in fine homes.  As the cooperative apartment takes the place of the townhouse in large cities, upper Fifth Avenue will continue to be a favored spot for this type of housing.  The increased height permitted under the new law, and the terraces resulting from set-backs, open the way for distinctive expressions of the architectural art such as were represented in another field by the fine Fifth Avenue mansions now so rapidly being replaced.”

Amenities

The building has a doorman and a concierge, sidewalk landscaping, a canopied entrance and some terraces. 

It has no garage, no health club, no sundeck and there is considerable traffic as 84th Street is a major Central Park west-bound transverse road. 

Many parades on Fifth Avenue pass this building. 

The building is one block north of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is convenient to cross-town bus service on 86th and 85th Streets, although there is a fair bit of traffic as 85th Street.

 

Apartments

Apartment 10A is a four-bedroom unit that has a 6-foot-wide vestibule that leads to a 16-foot-wide gallery that opens onto an 18-foot-long library, a 27-foot-long corner living room and a 25-foot-long dining room next to a 14-foot-long pantry and an 18-foot-long kitchen.  The apartment also has a 15-foot-long servants’ hall and an 11-foot-maid’s room and a 14-foot-long guest room. 

Apartment 5/6B is a duplex with a 15-foot-wide gallery that leads to a 28-foot-long living room with wood-burning fireplace on the lower floor next to a 19-foot-long library on one side and a 19-foot-long dining room next to a 19-foot-long kitchen and a 10-foot-long pantry.  The upper floor has four bedrooms and a maid's room. 

The penthouse is a three-bedroom unit that has a 25-foot-wide gallery that leads to a 24-foot-wide living room, next to a 22-foot-long dining room off a 22-foot-long kitchen with an 11-foot-long breakfast room and an 11-foot-long staff room.  The apartment has a very long terrace on the west and north sides of the building and another very long terrace on the south and east side of the building that also wraps about to the north of the building in the rear.

History

The building has had many well-known residents. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis bought the entire 15th floor in 1964 for $250,000 and lived there until she died in 1994. It overlooked the large reservoir in Central Park that was named for her as well as the Egyptian Temple of Dendur that she was instrumental in obtaining for the museum. Her apartment was acquired by David Koch for $9.5 million after her death in 1996 who provided money to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2012 to redo its streetscape on the Avenue between 80th and 84th Streets. Mr. Koch sold the apartment in 2006 and moved to 740 Park Avenue. 

Other residents included Lucius D. Clay, Sheldon Whitehouse, and G. N. Goulandris. 

The site was formerly occupied by the home of James B. Clews that was designed by Horace Trumbauer and vacant land owned by Abner Distillator.

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