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740 Park Avenue: Review and Ratings

between East 71st Street & East 72nd Street View Full Building Profile

Carter Horsley
Review of 740 Park Avenue by Carter Horsley

The conservatively elegant edifice at 740 Park Avenue on the southwest corner at 71st Street is muted luxury: its polished granite entrance reeks of the prospects of satin sheets and the promise of the echoes of fine crystal.

The 31-unit, 19-story building also has an entrance on the side-street at 71 East 71st Street.

It was designed by Rosario Candela with Arthur Loomis Harmon, the design partner of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, which designed the Empire State Building.

It was built in 1930.

740 Park Avenue was developed by James T. Lee on the site of his own private house and a limestone mansion that belonged to George Brewster. Lee had been a major developer whose other projects included 998 Fifth Avenue, designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1910, and the Shelton Hotel on Lexington Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets, designed by Arthur Loomis Harmon in 1924.

In his book, “The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter,” Andrew Alpern noted that Brewster took an apartment in the building that was later acquired by John D. Rockefeller Jr., who expanded it from a duplex to a triplex.  It was later reconfigured as a duplex.

The building, according to Mr. Alpern was “constructed as a co-operative venture but later became a conventional rental apartment house.”  “A reconversion to co-operative ownership was proposed in 1948 at a total price of $3.5 million but was not completed.  In 1952, Rockefeller bought the building from William Zeckendorf, who had held it for only a brief time. The following year Rockefeller resold it to himself and his neighbors as a newly reconstituted co-operative for a total price of $3.8 million,” Mr. Alpern noted.

Bottom Line

One of the city’s most celebrated addresses, this building is refined and restrained and rather regal and about as close to an impregnable treasure chest as possible in the city. Its grayness is not flamboyant but extremely confident.


In his book, "The City Observed: New York, A Guide to the Architecture of Manhattan," (Vintage Books, a division of Random House, 1979), architecture critic Paul Goldberger suggests that 740 "is in many ways...[Candela's] best - a solid, sumptuous mass that sits on a corner with absolute authority."

"The building is sheathed entirely in limestone," Goldberger continues, "and the fluted base and entrance details suggest a hint of Art Deco, but made very, very tame, for nothing would be worse than to have the gentry of Park Avenue think they were being given the style of Central Park West and the Grand Concourse. The front doorway tells all: it is cut through a granite slab, topped by finials, which contains lettering that announces the address thus: 740 PARK AVENUE."

The building has considerable architectural detail, notably some "peacock" balcony railings on the upper floors, some cartouches and the marvelous incised entrance columns.

The building’s façade on the avenue has six thin, fluted pilasters that ran from the 4th to the 11th floors and two thinner ones that run from the 12th to the 14th floors.

There is a bandcourse above the second floor and escutcheons above the top floor.

The side-street façade has an irregular fenestration pattern.

The building has some protruding air-conditioners and rather spartan sidewalk landscaping.


The building has a doorman and a concierge, a health club, private storage and a central laundry room.


Penthouse D is a two-bedroom unit with a 27-foot-wide entrance gallery with a staircase that leads to a 20-foot-long library with a fireplace and terrace, a 26-foot-long living room with a fireplace and 200-square-foot terrace and a 22-foot-wide dining room next to a 21-foot-long butler’s pantry and a 32-foot-long eat-in kitchen, a 13-foot-long staff hall and two staff rooms on the lower level and a 19-foot-wide gallery, two bedrooms, one with a fireplace, and a 750-square-foot wraparound terrace on the upper level.

Apartment 4/5C is a four-bedroom duplex with a small entry foyer that opens onto a 34-foot-long gallery with a staircase that opens onto a 35-foot-long living room with a fireplace, a 20-foot-long library with a fireplace and a 25-foot-long dining room with a fireplace next to a 19-foot-long butler’s pantry, a 17-foot-long kitchen, a 12-footlong breakfast room and two staff rooms on the lower level and a 28-foot-long gallery on the upper level with a master bedroom with a fireplace and three other bedrooms and a two staff rooms and a laundry on the upper level.

Apartment 4/5D is a five-bedroom duplex with an entry-hall with a staircase on the lower level that leads to a 21-foot-long library, a 37-foot-long living room with a fireplace and an “L”-shaped, 25-foot-wide dining room next to a large eat-in kitchen and a staff room.  The upper level has a master bedroom with a fireplace, four other bedrooms and three staff rooms.

Apartment 12/13C  has a small entry foyer that opens onto a 34-foot-long gallery with a staircase that leads to a 35-foot-loog living room with a fireplace, a 19-foot-long library with a fireplace and a 22-foot-long octagonal dining room with a terrace that is next to a 12-foot-long breakfasts room, a 22-foot-long kitchen and a 14-foot-long office on the lower level and a master bedroom with a fireplace  and three other bedrooms and a 17-foot-long foyer and two staff rooms on the upper level.


Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins devote considerable attention to Candela in their book, "New York 1930, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Two World Wars," Rizzoli, 1987:

"The building...was among the most luxurious apartment houses of the period. Practically all the apartments in the building were duplexes, with some, such as the one designed for John D. Rockefeller Jr., a sumptuous triplex. The exterior expression was that of a quiet, almost hidden Classicism, which the Architectural Forum characterized as a conservative expression of contemporary freedom in architectural design. String and belt courses are used to delimit the principal parts of the façade, and not at all in a classical or traditional manner."

The building has long attracted “heavy hitters.”

The former apartment of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. was purchased by Saul P. Steinberg, the head of the Reliance Insurance Group, and then by Stephen A. Schwarzman, the head of the Blackstone Group, and other residents have included Henry R. Kravis of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Rand V. Araskog, the chief executive officer of ITT International, the late Steven Ross, the chief executive officer of Warner Communications, Thelma Chrsyler Foy, Ronald Lauder, Elinor Dorrance and Samuel Bronfman.

An apartment on the second floor was owned at one time by Winston Lord, the head of the Council on Foreign Relations and an Pillsbury heir, and his wife, Betty Bao, an author.

Other residents include David Koch, Vera Wang and John Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch who bought his apartment in 2006 from Enid Haupt for $27.5 million.

Candela is widely considered to have been the country's greatest designer of luxury apartment buildings and he collaborated with many of the city's most famous architectural firms.

Candela's buildings, “it is said, were the grandest of the decade that was itself the greatest,” wrote Elizabeth Hawes in her book, “New York, New York, How The Apartment House Transformed The Life Of The City (1869-1930),” published by Henry Holt in 1993.

“He had a respect for privacy and an eye for significant detail. He was a complete thinker. He added duplicate water connections to street mains and multiple switches for ceiling lights as well as beautifully turned staircases and separate wine cellars. More significantly, he designed buildings from the inside out. He placed windows where they received light, balanced a room, or allowed a graceful arrangement of furniture.... Candela also invested unusual energy in the entry hall. In a typical apartment, he made it a full-sized room with rich views into the interior because he thought it was important to greet a visitor with a full sense of a home.... Candela liked puzzles. During the Depression, he took up cryptography, and during World War II, he broke the Japanese code,” Hawes wrote.

Born in Sicily, Candela came to the United States in 1909 and graduated from the Columbia school of architecture in 1915. His other famous buildings include 834 Fifth Avenue, 960 Fifth Avenue, 720 Park Avenue, 775 Park Avenue and 778 Park Avenue, and 19 East 72nd Street, all considered among the most glamorous addresses in the city.

In an October 21, 1990 article in The New York Times, Christopher Gray noted that James Lee took an apartment took an apartment at 740 Park Avenue for himself and another for his daughter, Mrs. John V. Bouvier 3rd, and her daughter, Jacqueline, who later became the nation's first lady.

The building underwent a major façade restoration in 1990 that Gray reported cost each shareholder in the building $258,000.

In 2005, Michael Gross published a book about the building documenting its famous tenantry.

In 2007, Vera Wang moved into the building from 778 Park Avenue.


Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 30 / 44

Out of 36

Location Rating: 28 / 36

Out of 39

Features Rating: 25 / 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
  • #18 Rated co-op in Manhattan
  • #9 Rated co-op - Upper East Side
  • #5 Rated co-op - Park/Fifth Ave. to 79th St.
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