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880 Fifth Avenue: Review and Ratings

between East 69th Street & East 70th Street View Full Building Profile

Carter Horsley
Review of 880 Fifth Avenue by Carter Horsley

The 21-story, 160-unit cooperative apartment house at 880 Fifth Avenue on the northeast corner at 69th Street was one of the first to be erected after World War II and the last one to be completed by Emery Roth, the architect who designed many of the city's most famous residential skyscrapers. 

Built in 1948 for Percy and Harold Uris, who would later become the city's most prolific commercial developers, this attractive building is stylistically related to Roth's building at 875 Fifth Avenue, across 69th Street, and to his earlier Normandy at 140 Riverside Drive. 

Bottom Line

The first post-war apartment building on Fifth Avenue and the last one designed by Emery Roth, the famous architect, this handsome apartment house is also the only twin-towered building on the avenue.  


Simplified classical moldings wrap around the Fifth Avenue entrance, and in the two symmetrical towers, flat brick pilasters support stylized capitals that are reminiscent of the Viennese Secession. Both towers were also finished off with courses of patterned brickwork. 

The central portion of the avenue frontage is recessed a few feet and is quite barren of detailing, while that façade's ends are very nicely modeled vertically in brickwork to create the impressions of pilasters. Despite its bulk, this rather laid-back building is pretty much a background building to the avenue's grander residences. 

The buff-colored brick building has a canopied entrance, sidewalk landscaping, discrete air-conditioners, some corner windows in the towers, a broad, two-story entrance surround and a three-story limestone base. 

“Despite such interesting, modern touches, the building is a bit bland and too conservative, but then daring was not called for at such a prime and expensive location,” Steve Ruttenbaum contended in his excellent book on the architect, "Mansions In The Clouds, The Skyscraper Palazzi of Emery Roth (Balsam Press, 1986)." He added that "the small and very attractive twin towers are most welcome, but the cantilevered balconies near the top are rather disruptive of the façade."


The building has a doorman, attended elevators, a gym, a live-in superintendent, a garage available at a discount to residents and private storage. Cats are permitted, but not dogs.


Each living room has a decorative fireplace and larger units have one or more maid’s rooms and separate service entrances.

Almost all units have double exposures to improve air circulation in pre-air-conditioning days. 

The apartment layouts of this building also reflect the beginning of a new era in high-rise residential design. All of the suites, which range in size from two to eight rooms, were arranged with a more open plan than was prevalent before the war. As in Roth's earlier buildings, each unit was planned around an entrance foyer, but, at 880 Fifth Avenue, divisions between some rooms were eliminated. Each living room has a fireplace, and the larger units have one or more maid's rooms, butlers' pantries and separate service entrances leading to service elevators. 

Penthouse 19 F/G has a 35-foot-long living room that has an 11-foot-wide terrace and leads to a 19-foot-wide library and a 19-foot-wide master bedroom, both with corner windows overlooking the avenue.  The apartment also has a 33-foot-long dining room next to a butler’s pantry and a 16-foot-long, windowed kitchen and a second, 23-foot-long bedroom. 

Penthouse E is a duplex with a long entry foyer that leads to a 15-foot-long dining room and a 21-foot-wide living room with a 22-foot-wide terrace overlooking Central Park and a 10-foot-wide kitchen, an 11-foot-long office and a 19-foot-long bedroom on the lower level and a 17-foot-long bedroom and a 43-foot-long terrace on the upper level. 

Apartment 9B has a six-foot-wide entry foyer that opens onto a 15-foot-wide gallery that leads to a 27-foot-long living room facing Central Park.  The apartment also has a 16-foot-long dining room, a 12-foot-long kitchen, a 12-foot-long breakfast room, a 10-foot-wide staff room/office and a 14-foot-long bedroom. 

Apartment 15G has a 15-foot-wide entrance gallery that leads to a 24-foot-long living room and a 20-foot-long dining room next to a 22-foot-long butler’s pantry and 12-foot-wide kitchen and a 10-foot-wide staff room. 

Apartment 10L has a 31-foot-long living/dining room with a bay window, a 10-foot-long library with a corner window, a 10-foot-long kitchen and a 16-foot-long bedroom. 

Apartment 16D is a two-bedroom unit with a 10-foot-wide gallery that leads to a 24-foot-long living room and a 10-foot-wide dining room next to a 18-foot-long kitchen and an 11-foot-long home office. 

Apartment 14E is a two-bedroom unit that has a 9-foot-long entry foyer that opens onto a 12-foot-wide gallery that leads to a 26-foot-long living room and a 21-foot-long formal dining room next to a 17-foot-long kitchen and an 11-foot-long staff room. 

Apartment 16G is a one-bedroom unit that has a 21-foot-long living room adjacent to a 18-foot-long study, both of which open onto a 39-foot-long terrace.  The unit also has a 18-foot-long dining room, a 14-foot-long breakfast room and a 12-foot-long kitchen. 

Apartment 17G is a two-bedroom unit that has a 9-foot-long entry foyer that opens onto a 22-foot-long living room and a 17-foot-long, angled dining room that leads to a pantry and an angled hall to the 12-foot-long kitchen and 10-foot-wide breakfast room. 

Apartment 4A is a two-bedroom unit with a 13-foot-wide entry foyer that leads to a kitchen and a 10-foot-wide dining area that opens onto a 24-foot-long living room with a bay window.


Roth’s post-war buildings on Fifth Avenue set a standard of 'luxury' construction in a 'Moderne' style that was a few rungs beneath the earlier and grander apartment edifices of an earlier generation on Fifth Avenue, but which were highly influential. 

Unlike their descendants a decade and more later that used glazed white bricks, these all use buff colored bricks over limestone bases, a far more elegant solution. 

According to Mr. Ruttenbaum, Roth's plans for this building were significantly altered by his son, Richard Roth Jr., who had just returned from the Navy. 

When the elder architect asked Richard why he wanted to change his already completed plans, his son, who went on to head the firm, replied, “Father, was that the way you made your reputation?” Ruttenbaum recounts, adding that his father later admitted that he cherished “that reprimand more than any praise.” 

“Except for a few details, it was more modern in conception than any design that ever came out of Roth's office,” Ruttenbaum observed. 

“Undoubtedly, this was due to Richard's influence. The vast expanses of unadorned brickwork decidedly were an outgrowth of Richard's modern aesthetic sensibility. In a few of the details, though, Emery's stylistic predilections were still visible.”


Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 28 / 44

Out of 36

Location Rating: 32 / 36

Out of 39

Features Rating: 19 / 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
  • #30 Rated co-op - Upper East Side
  • #17 Rated co-op - Park/Fifth Ave. to 79th St.
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Key Details
between Amsterdam Avenue & Broadway
Broadway Corridor
Forward-thinking and elegant homes on the Upper West Side. 3 bedroom residences | Immediate Occupancy
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