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The Gramercy, 34 Gramercy Park East

Between East 20th Street & East 21st Street

86
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 city's dowager apartment houses, this 9-story cooperative building was completed in 1883.

The building was described as "A craggy, mysterious red brick and red terra-cotta pile whose Queen Anne forms are among the city's most spectacular," by Elliot Willensky and Norval White in the book, "The A.I.A. Guide to New York City," (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988).

Designed by George W. DaCunha, the 48-unit building was developed by Charles A. Gerlach.

According to a August 14, 1994 articles in The New York Times by Christopher Gray, "the advantages of a high view were not yet realized, and Gerlach told The Real Estate Record & Guide that he had decided not to charge more for higher apartments. 'The moment you charge a different price for each floor you at once change the caste of your whole house and divide it into classes,' he said."How times have changed. Part of the reason why higher floors might not have been considered more desirable and therefore more valuable was that elevators were very new to apartment buildings. The first regular passenger elevator in the world was installed by Elisha Otis in 1857 in the Haughwout china and glassware store at Broadway and Broome Street, Gray noted, adding that there were several serious elevator accidents every year and that in 1882 The Times "published an expose of elevator operations in New York City, reporting that most were run by 'irresponsible boys' who raced each other in the open shafts or who carelessly left the protective gates open while moving."The Gramercy's elevators were hydraulic until the mid 1990's when they were converted to electric and Gray said it is "generally considered the oldest one operating in New York City, and perhaps the United States.

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