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834 Fifth Avenue

Between East 64th Street & East 65th Street

Carter Horsley
Reviewed 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.
 

834 Fifth Avenue is a very sumptuous, 16-story apartment building that was designed by Rosario Candela and is widely considered one of his greatest luxury apartment designs and one of the city’s most desirable cooperative residential buildings.

Erected by Anthony Campagna in 1931, it is directly across the avenue from the entrance to the Central Park Zoo.

The 24-unit building has many duplex apartments with grand living spaces facing Central Park and one tenant once had a chinchilla rug in the den.

Bottom Line

One of the three great limestone-clad apartment palaces on Fifth Avenue, this building roars across from the Central Park Zoo and blithely ignores the hordes of school buses and suburban buses that pass before it.

Description

The three-story base of the limestone-clad façade is rusticated at its base. The base is topped by a very lovely bandcourse of lions' heads. There are three double-height arches on the avenue, the center one of which is flanked at the second story by lovely circular cartouches.

One apartment near the top has very tall arched windows facing south and the building has a garden courtyard with a fountain.

Amenities

The building has a concierge, a doorman, an elevator person, an attractive, canopied entrance, sidewalk landscaping and wood-burning fireplaces. 

Apartments

Most of the apartments are large duplexes.

One has an entry that leads to a 34-foot-long gallery that opens onto a 38-foot-long living room with a fireplace and a 21-foot-long library with a fireplace.  The gallery has a spiral staircase in its center and also leads to a 26-foot-long dining room next to a 14-foot-long pantry and a 21-foot-long kitchen.  The same level has a coat closet, a dressing room, a servants’ hall and a maid’s room.  The upper level has four large bedrooms, to with dressing rooms, and two maid’s rooms.

History

In his book, "The City Observed, New York, A Guide To The Architecture of Manhattan,"(Vintage Books, 1979), Paul Goldberger, then architecture critic of The New York Times, noted that Candela's buildings "were always understated," adding that "The windows are vast, not so much out of a desire to bring light in as because the rooms themselves are immense and the windows are scaled to them."

"This is architecture that represents not aspiration, but arrival, a self-assuredness that earlier, more ornate buildings could only strive toward. It is a bit reserved but…it brings admiration rather than irritation [and] you know that this is strong enough so that the whole image of elegance would not fall apart if the doorman forgot to wear white gloves one day."

The developer had only been able to acquire four of the six houses on the avenue between 64th and 65th Streets after two years of negotiating so he had Candela design a symmetrical building for the mid-block site.

The corner site at 64th Street finally became available and accordiing to Andrew Alpern's great book, "New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter," Acanthus Press, 2001, Campagna was able to buy the holdout from Margaret V. Haggin, the second wife and widow of James Ben Ali Haggin, "who had died in his 90's about 1915."  "She moved into a duplex apartment in the newly completed 834 Fifth Avenue, and remained there under her own death in 1965," Mr. Alpern continued.

According to Mr. Alpern, "Laurance Rockefeller retained architects Harrison & Abramovitz in 1948 to create a spacious penthouse triplex at the top of the building and never thought it necessary to move anywhere else.

Over the years, the building has had a very prestigious roster of residents.

Rupert Murdoch, the publisher, bought the Rockefeller apartment for $44 million in 2005, then the highest price paid for a cooperative apartment in the city.  Leslie Wexner, the founder of The Limited, Robert Bass, the Texas investor, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, widow of Reginald Lewis, John Gutfreund, former chairman of Salomon Brothers, Elizabeth Arden, John DeLorean, the carmaker, Joan Whitney Payson, the heiress, Carroll Petrie, widow of the founder of Petrie Stories, Harold Prince, the Broadway producer, Damon Mezzacappa, the former chairman of Lazard Freres, and Alfred Taubman, the shopping mall developer and former chairman of Sotheby's, were other residents.

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