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820 Fifth Avenue: Review and Ratings

between East 63rd Street & East 64th Street View Full Building Profile

Carter Horsley
Review of 820 Fifth Avenue by Carter Horsley

One of the city's grandest apartment buildings, the 12-story limestone palazzo at 820 Fifth Avenue on the northeast corner at 63rd Street has only one apartment per floor. 

Designed by Starrett & Van Vleck for Fred T. Ley and Company and erected in 1916, this magnificent and finely detailed building is one of the stateliest, and most expensive, apartment buildings on Fifth Avenue. 

It was converted to a cooperative in 1949.

Bottom Line

Residents in this limestone-clad apartment palace have formidable wealth and impeccable social status, which entitles them to elevator attendants, lovely hanging light sconces flanking the entrance, Japanese Cherry trees and proximity to the Central Park Zoo.

Because of Central Park views, its small number of units, its palatial apartments and its location close to midtown and on a quiet sidestreet, this is one of the supreme residential addresses in the world.


The façades are broken into five sections by four prominent stringcourses and the centers of the east and south façades have large balustraded balconies. The two-story base is horizontally rusticated and the floors above are vertically and horizontally rusticated. The center windows on the avenue on the third floor have pediments. On the sidestreet there are some discrete and protruding air-conditioners. Windows are consistently multi-paned and the building has a modest cornice. The sidewalk landscaping includes two luscious Japanese Cherry trees.

The Fifth Avenue corner has a rounded column quoin and the building has lush sidewalk landscaping and a very handsome canopied entrance flanked by bronze lanterns.


The building has a doorman, a concierge and elevator attendants, a canopied entrance and handsome sidewalk landscaping.


Each apartment has a 44-foot-long gallery, five bedrooms, six-and-a-half bathrooms, 7 servants' rooms and five fireplaces and large entertaining areas. 

The full-floor apartments have 44-foot-long entrance galleries that open onto the living room, the dining room and the library - all with fireplaces. The corner master bedroom has a fireplace and there are four other bedrooms.



The list of former residents in this ultra-swank building includes Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the chairman of General Motors, Pierre Lorillard, the tobacco tycoon, Mrs. Anne Richardson Harkness, the widow of an early partner of John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company, Mrs. Sarah Gracie King Iselin, wife of the Adrian Iselin, the banker, and granddaughter of a president of Columbia University and a sister of Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, founder of the Colonial Dames of America, Mr. and Mrs. William S. Paley, the art collector and founder of CBS, Charles Wrightsman, the oil man and collector of French furniture, oil man Gordon Getty, shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, and Robert Goelet, an investor in New York City real estate. 

It was also the residence of Governor Alfred E. Smith, who enjoyed nightly walks in the Central Park Zoo just across the avenue. 

Current residences include Mrs. Jayne Wrightsman, Lily Safra, Michael David-Weilll and William Acquavella.


Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 29 / 44

Out of 36

Location Rating: 32 / 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
  • #5 Rated co-op in Manhattan
  • #2 Rated co-op - Upper East Side
  • #2 Rated co-op - Park/Fifth Ave. to 79th St.
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between Gold Street & Flatbush Avenue Extension
Downtown Brooklyn
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