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Claremont Hall (Robert A.M. Stern Architects) Claremont Hall (Robert A.M. Stern Architects)
It’s hard for Columbia University students or locals to imagine now, but there was a time when Morningside Heights was nothing but farmland. The rocky terrain made development difficult, and geology created a natural barrier from the nearby Harlem. However, during the mid-19th century, a number of asylums went up in the area on the belief that the semi-rural area would be therapeutic to patients. The neighborhood was originally dubbed Vandewater Heights, in honor of Dutch landowner Hermon Vandewater; other names included Bloomingdale, Morningside Hill, and Riverside Heights.

As time passed, institutions like Columbia University, Teachers College, Barnard College, Manhattan School of Music, Jewish Theological Seminary, and St. Luke’s Hospital moved in and built campuses. This prompted some to refer to the area as the “Acropolis of the New World,” while others thought of the area as “Cathedral Heights” in honor of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. However, use of “Morningside Heights” won out among the locals, and the area is still known by this name today.

In this article:

Claremont Hall, 100 Claremont Avenue
Claremont Hall, 100 Claremont Avenue Morningside Heights
Enclave At The Cathedral, 400 West 113th street
Enclave At The Cathedral, 400 West 113th street Morningside Heights
30 Morningside Drive
30 Morningside Drive Morningside Heights
Vandewater, 543 West 122nd Street
Vandewater, 543 West 122nd Street Morningside Heights

Present Day

Today, Morningside Heights is still known for its tree-lined streets and green space - while well above and west of Central Park, Riverside Park, Morningside Park, and Sakura Park offer abundant green space. Pre-pandemic, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine hosted a variety of cultural events, some of which were more cultural than theological.

The neighborhood is not a hotbed of celebrity chefs or retail chains, but no one seems to object - local cafes and boutiques are going strong. However, Tom’s Diner was made famous on Seinfeld, and Hungarian Pastry Shop is the unofficial gathering spot for neighborhood literati. A Greenmarket is open between West 114th and 116th Streets on Thursdays and Sundays, and the neighborhood is not prohibitively far from the shops at Columbus Square, which include a Whole Foods grocery store and wine shop.
Columbia University's Low Memorial Library (CityRealty)
Broadway and 116th Street entrance to Columbia University
Across Broadway is Barnard College's campus
Riverside Drive has among the most beautiful residential buildings in the city
Riverside Drive
Tom's Restaurant partly made famous in the sitcom Seinfeld
Peace Fountain Flying buttresses of the Cathedral of St. John's the Divine and its iconic Peace Fountain sculpture

Local Real Estate

Morningside Heights has long established a reputation as a middle-class enclave, and that continues to be the case. However, new condo developments have propelled the neighborhood's average sales price to record levels. According to our data, Morningside Heights witnessed the strongest average price growth from 2019 to 2021, surging 50% since pre-pandemic. It must be said that this is largely due to the deliveryof The Vandewater, a towering new condo building whose closings have come in at an average north of $1,700 per square foot.
CityRealty listings show only 73 publicly-listed apartments for sale in Morningside Heights, approximately two-thirds of which are located in pre-war cooperatives. These come to a relatively attainable median price of $637K.

The majority of the current condo availabilities take place at Vandewater, the condo tower that rose at 543 West 122nd Street after the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) sold roughly 260,000 square feet of air rights and a residence hall to developer Savannah Real Estate for $96 million.

This is not the only example of developers working with the community - the renovation of Union Theological Seminary's over 100-year-old campus is being funded through the sale of 350,000 square feet of development rights to Landlease Americas Inc.; they are using the rights to build Claremont Hall, a mixed-use residential/academic tower in the heart of the seminary's campus. On the rental front, when DelShah Capital purchased five buildings from St. Luke's Hospital for $111.5 million, the proceeds financed significant improvements to the hospital, which is now known as Mount Sinai Morningside.

New Condos

Claremont Hall, 100 Claremont Avenue
Developed by Lendlease Americas Inc. and Daiwa House Group | Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Completion estimated for 2023

Claremont Hall (Robert A.M. Stern Architects)
Claremont Hall (Robert A.M. Stern Architects) Claremont Hall (Robert A.M. Stern Architects)
When Claremont Hall opens in the coming year, it will have overtaken Vandewater (see below) as the tallest building in Morningside Heights. Renderings of the Robert A.M. Stern-designed tower show classical influences, but it will target LEED Gold certification. Apartments will start on the eighth floor, and amenities will include a fully-attended lobby, resident lounge, fitness center, swimming pool, children's playroom, storage, and a bike room.
(April 2022)

Vandewater, 543 West 122nd Street
Developed by Savannah Real Estate | Designed by Incorporated Architecture & Design
Completed in 2020
21 available listings from $950K

While Vandewater's architecture was inspired by the Gothic designs of its nearest neighbors, this is the first condo of its kind in Morningside Heights. Its status as the tallest building in the neighborhood (as of this writing) allows for dramatic views of Central Park, the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River, and the Lower Manhattan skyline. The apartments inside boast tall ceilings, high-performance casement windows, elegant kitchens, and state-of-the-art infrastructure that includes recessed LED lighting, the latest HVAC technology, and in-unit washer/dryers. Elegant gardens span the length of the building, and indoor amenities include a double-height lobby, a state-of-the-art fitness center with yoga room, a 70-foot lap pool, children's and teen lounges, a pet spa, a music practice room, and a club/media room with a large television.
543-West-122nd-Street-01 Vandewater (Halstead Property LLC)

New Rentals

Mixed-use scheme for Grant Houses site at 125th & Broadway

(Credit: Margulies Hoelzli Architecture) (Credit: Margulies Hoelzli Architecture)
On the northeast corner of Broadway and 125th Street, Margulies Hoelzli Architecture was tapped to draft studies for a 300,000 square foot, mixed-use development comprising a hotel tower and residential tower sharing a commercial podium. The project is across from the 1 train's 125th Street station and is within NYCHA's Grant Houses complex. The development would replace a strip of mostly chain-store retailers that include a Duane Reade and Bank of America.

30 Morningside Drive
Developed by DelShah Capital | Designed by Ernest Flagg | Converted by CetraRuddy
Completed in 1896; converted in 2019
2 available listings from $5,200/month
Up to 2 months free rent on a 16-month lease

30-Morningside-Drive-01 30 Morningside Drive (DelShah Capital)
In 1896, St. Luke's Hospital rose across the street from Morningside Park. More than 100 years later, four pavilions and a carriage house were turned into an in-demand rental building. The Beaux-Arts facade was painstakingly restored with Landmarks' blessing, and the interiors and infrastructure were updated with high-quality finishes and smart home tech. The carriage house was transformed into a lounge with library, catering kitchen, and business center, and additional amenities include an attended lobby, a gym with movement studio and sauna, a children's playroom, a billiards room, a bike room, a package room, a landscaped garden, and a roof deck.

Enclave at the Cathedral, 400 West 113th Street
Developed by Brodsky Organization | Designed by Handel Architects
Completed in 2016
1 available listing for $5,995/month

gross...(Handel Architects / Brodsky Organization)
400-West-113th-Street-01 Enclave at the Cathedral (Brodsky Organization)
On the north side of the campus of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Enclave at the Cathedral rose on the former site of stone sheds. The cast-in-place concrete ribs were inspired by the cathedral's buttresses, and interiors feature floor-to-ceiling windows, custom blinds, hardwood floors, kitchens with quartzite countertops and stainless steel appliances, and in-unit washer/dryers. A new cloister garden was created between the apartment building and the cathedral, and residential amenities include a 2,000-square-foot fitness center, a game room, a screening room, a game room, a parking garage, and a roof deck.

1080 Amsterdam Avenue
Developed by Stonehenge | Designed by George F. Pelham | Converted by Steven Kratchman
Completed in 1931; converted in 2014
No current availabilities

1080-Amsterdam-Avenue-01 1080 Amsterdam Avenue (Stonehenge)
1080 Amsterdam Avenue opened as a hotel named St. James House in 1931, and was converted to a rental in 2014. The Art Deco facade was meticulously restored, and interiors were updated to feature hardwood flooring, sunken living rooms, stainless steel appliances, and high-end finishes. Amenities include an attended lobby, a fitness center with Peloton bike, a lounge and a bike room; additionally, residents have access to complimentary events held throughout the Stonehenge portfolio.
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Public Works/Non-Residential Construction

Jewish Theological Seminary campus
Developed by Jewish Theological Seminary | Designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien
Completed in 2022

After the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) sold a parcel of its land and 262,000 square feet of air rights to Savannah Real Estate Fund for $96 million, they used the proceeds to fund a reimagined campus. A skylit central atrium welcomes students and visitors to campus, and can be used for lectures, services, and graduation ceremonies. It overlooks a garden that has been designed to accommodate the sukkah during the Sukkot holiday, and for outdoor relaxation whenever weather permits.

Elsewhere on campus, a new library includes a public-facing exhibition gallery and a climate-controlled rare books room. A residence hall has been upgraded with a new student lounge, communal gathering spaces, and kosher kitchens. A 200-seat auditorium has also been upgraded with increased capacity for high-quality video streaming, which emerged as a must-have during the pandemic. Finally, an undergraduate-run "Moadon" space opens up to the outdoors and provides a forum for meetings, events, and performances.
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The new campus emphasizes accessibility with ADA-compliant dorms, full wheelchair accessibility everywhere, and an assistive listening system in the auditorium. Additionally, environmentally friendly features include high-efficiency LED lighting, economizers for air handling systems, a building designed for excellent thermal performance, and three green spaces on the roof.

600 West 125th Street
Developed by Columbia University | Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and CetraRuddy
Completion estimated for 2023

600 West 125th Street (Renzo Piano Building Workshop / CetraRuddy Architecture via Columbia University)
600-West-125th-Street-01 600 West 125th Street (Renzo Piano Building Workshop / CetraRuddy Architecture via Columbia University)
Columbia University was behind much of Morningside Heights' development for decades, and that continues to this day. Across the street from the new Manhattanville campus, a new university housing tower is rising on the former site of a drive-through McDonald's (the fast food restaurant has signed a deal for 5,000 square feet of grade-level space). The 34-story tower will contain 142 apartments for graduate students and faculty, as well as amenities like a fitness center, lounges with terrace access, storage, and a 150-space bike room. The building is pursuing LEED Gold certification, and features like a high-performance facade, vegetated roofs, stormwater retention, optimized equipment efficiency, and an enhanced Clean Construction program will be instrumental in that.

Calatrava In 1991, Santiago Calatrava proposed this sensational solution to complete the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine but sadly, it never took flight
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine has been a part of Morningside Heights since the end of the 19th century, and has been jokingly called "St. John the Unfinished," as it was constructed using Gothic building methods; thankfully, more modern construction methods are being employed to maintain and restore it. A Gustavino tiled dome was installed in 1909 and only meant to be temporary until a spire could rise, but has emerged as one of the best-preserved tileworks of its kind. Cleaning and maintenance work are currently underway; additionally, in the wake of damage from a 2019 fire, the Great Organ has had to be disassembled and cleaned before it can be played again.
St. John the Divine The Crossing Dome of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was a originally conceived as a temporary enclosure but will now finished in a more permanent copper cladding (Credit: Ennead Architects via LPC)
(Ennead Architects)

Notable Apartments for Sale in Morningside Heights

Would you like to tour any of these properties?
Just complete the info below.
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Or call us at (212) 755-5544
Would you like to tour any of these properties?