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Carnegie Plaza at 162 West 56th Street: Review and Ratings

Carter Horsley
Review of 162 West 56th Street 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

Some of the city's streets are interesting for reasons that are not always obvious. This block, for example, has the backs of two major skyscrapers on 57th Street and the City Center for the Performing Arts on 55th Street.

In addition, it has the loading dock of CitySpire, a major mixed-use tower in the middle of the block, the busy Kaplan School, and the main entrance of the Parker Meridian Hotel, a famous music bookstore, a mystery book store, and the spectacular lobby with major antiquities in a green-glass midblock tower that has an angled plaza with three handsome conical flagpoles. Throw in four food stores, a couple of garages, two major health clubs and the stage door for Carnegie Hall and you have a lot going on.

With five major loading docks on the block, there are a lot of trucks on the street, but surprisingly the traffic moves rather well and taxis often turn into the street.

Architecturally, this is a very fascinating street since it is host to most spectacular skyscraper cluster in midtown. Carnegie Hall Tower and the Metropolitan Tower are on either side of the Russian Tea Room Restaurant on 57th Street and all extend to 56th Street where they are outsized by CitySpire, the tallest mixed-use building in midtown. The three towers are about 800 feet high each and the proximity is awesome, especially since their designs are quite different. All three have through-block arcades as does the hotel and the midblock angled building, which probably sets a world's record for most such arcades on one block.

This red-and-brown-brick building has some attractive decorative spandrels and is directly across from the attractive rear of Carnegie Hall. It has a nice, step-up lobby with a concierge and a canopied, one-step-up entrance with sidewalk landscaping. The building, which is also known as 875 Seventh Avenue, has a one-story limestone base and its façade has had a lot of changes, but remains pleasant. It was erected in 1925 and converted to a condominium in 1987. The 15-story building has 65 apartments.

The neighborhood is one of the most vibrant in the city with many theme restaurants and the Art Students League nearby as well as several major landmark buildings such the Osborne and Alywn Court apartment buildings and Central Park is only three blocks to the north.

Public transportation is very good and some of the world's most famous delicatessens are nearby on Seventh Avenue.

For decades, Seventh Avenue north of Times Square was a woeful stretch of blandness. The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, which changed its name to Axa, around the turn of the Millennium, changed the dreary scene with its erection in the 1980s of the Equitable Center with extensive art works and spaces and spectacular restaurants like Palio. The Sheraton Center, a bent, yellow tower reminiscent of Miami, upgraded its base soon thereafter, and Rockefeller Center began the construction in early 2000 of a new skyscraper on 50th Street across from the quite intriguing black-glass tower with angled skylights at 750 Seventh Avenue.

To the south, of course, the "new" Times Square has truly undergone a major renaissance and now glitters more than ever and has thrown off its squalid ambiance to become a world-class tourist center.

Reinforcing all this is the construction of a major mixed-use facility on the site of the New York Coliseum on which demolition started in late 1999. When completed, Columbus Circle will became a very much revitalized gateway to the nearby Lincoln Center district and the Upper West Side.


Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 14 / 44

Out of 36

Location Rating: 27 / 36

Out of 39

Features Rating: 8 / 39


CityRealty Rating Reference

  • 30+ remarkable
  • 20-29 distinguished
  • 11-19 average
  • < 11 below average
  • 27+ remarkable
  • 18-26 distinguished
  • 9-17 average
  • < 9 below average
  • 22+ remarkable
  • 16-21 distinguished
  • 9-15 average
  • < 9 below average
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