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The Century, 25 Central Park West

Between West 62nd Street & West 63rd 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.
 

The sister of the Majestic apartment building several blocks to the north on Central Park West, the Century is one of the masterpieces of developer Irwin S. Chanin, who also built the great 56-story Chanin Building on East 42nd Street and many famous theaters around Times Square such as the Roxy, the Biltmore and the Majestic.

Like the Majestic, it was designed by Chanin's in-house architecture department headed by Jacques Delamarre and assisted by sculptor/designer René Chambellan in a modified Art Deco style.

The beige-brick, 32-story building has about 350 apartments with a very wide variety of layouts.

Bottom Line

One of the great twin-towered, Art Deco residential buildings on Central Park West, it has fabulous views and is equidistant from Columbus Circle and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Description

While the twin-towered massing is similar to that of the Majestic, it differs in its vertical emphasis of six sets of bay windows and, most importantly, in its rounded geometric elements on the west side of the tops of the towers.

The building has a U-shaped lobby around a landscaped rear court and the lobby has entrances on Central Park West and the sidestreets.

The building has three entrances.

Amenities

With three attended entrances this building has a concierge, a doorman, a bicycle room and a laundry and it is pet friendly.

Apartments

"The original drawings called for 416 apartments of 52 distinct varieties, ranging from a single room with a small serving pantry to an 11-room duplex maisonette with a private entrance from the street," Andrew Alpern has noted, adding that some of the one-bedroom units were duplexes.

When the building was converted to a condominium there were about 405 units and now the total is about 350.

Apartment 2J is a two-bedroom unit with a 25-foot-long entry gallery that leads to a 24-foot-long living room adjoining an 18-foot-long corner solarium.  The apartment also has a 24-foot-long dining room adjoining an enclosed 18-foot-long eat-in kitchen.

Apartment 2M has a 16-foot-long foyer next to a 8-foot-long sitting area with a curved wall.  The two-bedroom unit also has a 27-foot-long living room with a bay window, a 19-foot-long dining room, a 20-foot-long kitchen and a 10-foot-long maid’s room.

Apartment 7Q is a two-bedroom unit that has an 18-foot-long entrance gallery that leads to a 22-foot-long living room with a bay window, and a 13-foot-squre dining room next to a 14-foot-square kitchen and a 17-foot-long den. 

Apartment 15J has a 16-foot-long entry foyer that leads to a 33-foot-long living room with a sunken area and a bay window.  The three-bedroom unit also has a 14-foot-long library and an 18-foot-long eat-in kitchen.

Apartment 10S is a one-bedroom duplex with a 7-foot-square foyer on the lower level leading to a 23-foot-long living/dining room next to an-eat-in 15-foot-long kitchen with a 19-foot-long bedroom upstairs.

Apartment 10UV has a 20-foot-long entry foyer leading to a sunken 21-foot-long living room and a 21-foot-long dining room.  The two-bedroom unit also has a 13-foot-long kitchen and a 12-foot-long office.

Apartment 11E is a two-bedroom unit with a 23-foot-long living room, a 19-foot-long dining room with an adjoining 16-foot-long den and 14-foot-long kitchen.

Apartment 18EG has a 14-foot-long foyer that leads to a 25-foot-long living room, a 13-foot-long dining room, and a 19-foot-long gallery that opens to a 22-foot-long library.  The apartment also has two bedrooms and a 14-foot-long kitchen.

Apartment 20H has an entrance foyer that opens onto a 19-foot-long terrace and a 9-foot-long dining room that leads bast a 12-foot-long kitchen to a 19-foot-long living room and a 16-foot-long bedroom.

History

At the turn of the 20th Century, the area had many automobile showrooms and in 1908 the blockfront site was acquired by a civic repertory company that erected a theater designed by Carrère & Hastings that opened the next year. For a while, the elegant building, known as the Century Theater, served as an opera house, but was acquired in 1920 by the Shubert theater organization. In his fine book, "Upper West Side Story, A History And Guide," (Abbeville Press, 1989), Peter Selwen noted that the Century Theater played host to performances by the Metropolitan Opera, Konstantin Stanislavsky and the Moscow Art Theater, Isadora Duncan, Eleanor Duse, Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes, and Max Reinhardt and that its basement for a while had a nightclub hosted by Texas Guinan and that its roof garden also became a nightclub, the Coconut Grove, designed by Joseph Urban.

Chanin, who had retained an interest in several Times Square theaters, exchanged them with the Shuberts for the site and in August, 1929, announced plans for a 65-story tower that was to have been known as the Palais de France with three floors of retail space and 27 floors of hotel use and 30 floors of offices for the French consulate and tourist offices and French companies.

In his excellent book, "Luxury Apartment Buildings of Manhattan: An Illustrated Survey," Dover Publications, 1992, Andrew Alpern observed the building's variation on Art Deco style "were more than an arbitrary decoration; they helped cushion the shock of the Great Depression."

An attempt to convert the rental building to a cooperative failed in 1983, but it was finally converted to a condominium in 1987.

As John Tauranac notes in his brilliant book, "Essential New York, A Guide to the History and Architecture of Manhattan's Important Buildings, Parks and Bridges," (Holt Rinehart Winston, 1979), the Century and the Majestic "are cool, cut down to their essentials, with bold massing and clear statements of strength."

The Century opened in 1932, two years after the Majestic, and it was the last of the four great multi-towered apartments to be erected on Central Park West.

Over the years, its residents have included agent William Morris, Lee Shubert, the theater magnate, writer Marc Connelly, and entertainers Ethel Merman, Robert Goulet, Ray Bolger, Fay Wray and Nanette Fabray.

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