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The Eldorado, 300 Central Park West

Between West 90th Street & West 91st Street

Carter Horsley
Reviewed 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 northernmost of Central Park West's great twin-towered apartment houses, the 31-story Eldorado was completed in 1931 and was designed by Emery Roth, in collaboration with Margon & Holder. 

Roth also designed the twin-towered San Remo and the triple-towered Beresford, both further south on the avenue.

The Eldorado at 300 Central Park West between 90th and 91st Streets is roughly the same size as the other twin-towered buildings, but its 186 co-op apartments are generally smaller than those in the others. 

"The futuristic sculptural detailing of the El Dorado, as well as its geometric ornament and patterns and its contrasting materials and textures, make it one of the finest Art Deco structures in the city. The towers are terminated by ornamented setbacks with abstract geometric spires that have been compared to Flash Gordon finials," observed Steven Ruttenbaum in his definitive study of Emery Roth: "Mansions in the Clouds, the Skyscraper Palazzi of Emery Roth," Balsam Press Inc., 1986.

The building was declared a city landmark in 1985.

Bottom Line

The Eldorado’s twin peaks dominate the cityscape around the reservoir in Central Park and accentuate its streamlined, rocketship-like Art Deco-style looks. We're shooting for the stars, ma'am! It boasts great views and it's close to the tennis courts in Central Park.

Description

The Eldorado's base is cast stone rather than limestone, reflecting the fact that this project was intended for a slightly less affluent clientele than its twin-towered neighbors to the south.

The towers are on the eastern side of the building's site and there is a large court behind them flanked by the mid-rise wings on the side-streets. The central portion of the façade on Central Park West is indented several floors below the corner and effectively make the towers seem taller.

The lower floors are nicely modulated vertically by four sets of dark mullions while the two towers are modulated by three sets of dark mullions. The overall effect is quite rhythmic. Despite the presence of a few rounded balconies and nice geometric patterning and detailing at the base of major setbacks, the building has great elan and the rather awkward finials have a machine-like intricacy.

The building has inconsistent fenestration and has some discrete window air-conditioners. 

Near the top of the base and the top of the towers are a few pairs of rounded balconies that are "comma"-like accents.  Beneath the windows at the top floor of many of the building's setbacks are pronounced banded architecture elements and the parapets of the setbacks have angled indentations divided by extensions of the building’s piers.

Amenities

The building has a concierge, a doorman and a garage.

In 1995, the building added a duplex gym in its basement and sub-basement with an elevator for the disabled, a community room and a basketball mini-court.

Apartments

The two towers have 14 floors of apartments, each floor with only one apartment.

All the “tower” apartments have 10-foot-high ceilings and fireplaces although those in the back have only decorative fireplaces.

Each floor in the building’s base is divided into about 11 apartments arranged around five elevator "cores" or banks.

The apartments are markedly less luxurious than at Roth's San Remo and Beresford buildings and most of the units have 5 to 9 rooms as compared to 8 to 10 at the San Remo and Beresford. There are a few duplexes with 12 rooms but also some small apartments of three or four rooms. There are very few maid’s rooms.

There are many surprising and fine layouts.

One three-bedroom apartment on the 10th floor has a 18-foot-long foyer that leads to a 28-foot-long living room overlooking Central Park on the east and a 22-foot-long dining room on the west.

One the same floor is a two-bedroom apartment with an angled foyer leading to a 28-foot living room overlooking the park on the east and a dining room with a long hallway to a eat-in kitchen with a circular banquette on the west.

Two floors higher is a two-bedroom unit with a entrance foyer 13-feet in diameter that is flanked by a formal dining room on one side and a 26-foot living room with a loggia and a bar room on the other side.

A two-bedroom duplex on the 31st and 32nd floors has a 20-foot-living room on the lower level with a kitchen and two large terraces and two bedrooms and a large terrace on the upper level.

A duplex on the 32nd and 33rd floors has a 13-foot octagonal room with a large wrap-around terrace on the lower level and a similar size “observatory” with no terraces on the upper level.

History

The building replaced a hotel, designed by Neville & Bagge, of the same name on the site that was built in 1902 and had a garage with a "charging room for electric automobiles," noted Christopher Gray in a September 14, 1997 article in The New York Times.

That hotel was known as the El Dorado and it was acquired in 1929 by Frederick Brown who then sold it to Louis Klosk, a developer in the Bronx.  Klosk had his architects, Margon & Holder, filed plans for a 16-story building but a new Multiple Dwelling Law that year permitted larger buildings, including twin towers, on big sites and new plans were filed.

In 1931, the building went into foreclosure and was reopened by its new owner, the Central Park Plaza Corporation.

Ruttenbaum's book illustrates an earlier design by Roth for the El Dorado that is neo-Classical and has a mini-tower tucked between the two large towers. That abandoned design was quite graceful and unfortunately was not used elsewhere.

"The El Dorado marked a distinct stylistic shift in Roth's work toward a less plastic modeling of the mass and toward a Modernist sense of detail as applied to an essentially Classical composition," noted authors Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins in their monumental book, "New York 1930 Architecture and Urbanism Between The Two World Wars," Rizzoli, 1987.

"Because of its Modernist articulation, which could be most clearly seen in the futuristic belfry-like finials concluding each of its two towers, the Eldorado [sic], even more than the San Remo, offered convincing evidence that Classical compositional principles could rise to the demands of a new building type and a new expressive sensibility," they continued.

Early tenants included Dr. Stephen S. Wise, a founder of the American Jewish Congress, Senator Royal Copeland, Barney Pressman, the founder of Barney’s, and Rex Cole who sold General Electric refrigerators in buildings resembling refrigerators. Other residents have included singer Moby, author Sinclair Lewis, and actors Alec Baldwin, Faye Dunaway and Michael J. Fox.

The building was the fictional address of Marjorie Morningstar in Herman Wouk's 1955 novel "Marjorie Morningstar."

The building was converted to a co-operative in 1982.

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