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The Normandy, 140 Riverside Drive: Review and Ratings

between West End Avenue & Riverside Drive View Full Building Profile

Carter Horsley
Review of 140 Riverside Drive by Carter Horsley

The impressive Normandy at 140 Riverside Drive on the northeast corner at 86th Street is Emery Roth’s major building facing the Hudson River. 

The 20-story building has about 250 co-operative apartments and extends through the block to 87th Street with separate entrances and elevator banks. 

It was built in 1939 and Roth was one of the four development partners for the apartment building. The other partners were Samuel Rosenblatt, Herman Wacht, and Henry Kaufman.

Bottom Line

A huge and handsome, through-block apartment building fronting on Riverside Park and overlooking the Hudson River.


"This hybrid of Moderne and classical styling resulted in a graceful and unique composition which is at once conservative and forward-looking,” observed Steve Ruttenbaum in his fine book, "Mansions in the Clouds, The Skyscraper Palazzi of Emery Roth." 

“For example,” he wrote, “the two-story limestone base is rusticated, but it is executed in a modern, streamlined manner, unlike any palazzo from the past. The rustication is composed entirely of deep horizontal joints that sweep across the building's façades. This movement is not even halted at the building's corners, for they are not ninety-degree angles. Instead, the corners are rounded, so they allow the horizontal momentum to proceed unchecked. Even the entrances on Eighty-Sixth and Eighty-Seventh streets are scooped out of the base in concave, semicircular openings that recede into the interior, much like the entrance at 888 Grand Concourse. To the walls of these cavities are applied marble mosaic tiles in abstract geometric patterns of gold, blue and tan. Above the base, segmental casement windows are fitted into the rounded corner, and these perpetuate the streamlined appearance almost all the way up....Shallow pilasters of buff brick rise above the corners of the base....” 

“At the top,” Ruttenbaum continued, “Roth employed many classical details, yet in an austere mode. Squat obelisks punctuate the setbacks at the eighteenth and nineteenth floors as they recede into the towers. These are ornamented in a simple manner with flat corner pilasters, denticulated panels and small glass brick windows surmounted by cartouches set within broken pediments. Finials provide additional vertical emphasis at the corners of he towers, and above them rise pyramidal, red mission tile roofs. The very peak of each roof is crowned by a finial-shape copper lantern." 

The H-shape of the building's plan with courtyards cut into the front facing Riverside Drive the back facing east provided two exposures for each apartment, which helped air ventilation and circulation, and the apartments in the center of the building overlooked the east and west garden courts.

The lobby of the building, which originally contained 250 apartments - 15 per floor - with 1,060 rooms, is highlighted by a sunken "garden loggia" with green marble wainscoting with concealed cove lighting. Many of the apartments without dining rooms had "dinettes" that were separate from kitchens and not mere "alcoves". Some of the apartments' foyers were circular and as wide as 14 to 16 feet and some employed glass brick. Many of the units, including the smaller ones, were duplexes, and balconies near the top of the building were rounded. The penthouses at the base of each tower were duplexes with glass-brick circular staircases and ceiling heights of 11 to 12 feet and fireplaces. 

The squat twin towers of the Normandy were repeated in similar style by the architect at 880 Fifth Avenue a few years later. 

Although the Normandy and its Moderne style is less lavish than the great Beresford and San Remo towers by the same architect, it is a handsome and elegant building. By recessing its central façade from the corner wings considerably and making its formal towers relatively tall, like an ocean liner's smokestacks, but without rakish tilts, the building has a dynamic presence on Riverside Drive. It is interesting that the lower of the two rounded corner balconies end in vertical curves that rise to meet the building's sides, a subtle touch.


The building has doormen, a bicycle room, gardens, a children’s playroom, a gym, a laundry and a live-in superintendent.


Apartment 18E is a studio unit that has an 11-foot-long entry foyer that leads past an 8-foot-long kitchen to a 24-foot-wide living room with a semi-circular, 12-foot-wide sleeping alcove with a curved corner window. 

Apartment 8N is a one-bedroom unit that has an 8-foot-long entry foyer that leads to a 31-foot-long living area with a 13-foot dining alcove with a curved corner window next to a 13-foot-long kitchen. 

Apartment 11F is a two-bedroom unit that has a 14-foot-wide dining foyer across from an enclosed and windowed 14-foot-long kitchen and the foyer leads to a 21-foot-long living room. 

Apartment 10C is a two-bedroom unit with a 16-foot-long entrance gallery that leads to a 21-foot-long living/dining room and a pass-through kitchen.  The 18-foot-long master bedroom has a curved, corner window. 

Apartment 12G is a two-bedroom unit that has a 17-foot-long entrance foyer that leads past a semi-circular, 12-foot-wide, open dining room across from an 13-foot-long, windowed kitchen to a 24-foot-long living room.  The master bedroom has a curved, corner window. 

Apartment 16K is a three-bedroom unit with a 15-foot-long entry foyer that leads past a 14-foot-wide kitchen and an enclosed 13-foot-wide dining from to a 24-foot-long living room.  The smallest bedroom has a curved, windowed corner.


Mr. Ruttenbaum observed in his book that “New York's recovery from the Depression was evident in 1939 when more apartment buildings were planned and built than in any of the preceding eight years,” adding that "The greatest of these was the Normandy, which represented the largest residential construction in New York since the onset of the Depression. It was, in fact, the most significant residential real estate project in the city since the completion of Roth's two quintessential luxury buildings, the Beresford and the San Remo." 

In 1939, Mr. Alpern continued, "there was a renewed interest in luxury apartments, albeit on a less grandiose scale than in the previous decade….Instead of grand spaces and opulent styling, new high-class buildings offered labor -saving gadgetry and amenities like terraces and duplex layouts. The Normandy was such a building. Rather than entrance galleries, there were modestly sized foyers; instead of large dining rooms, there were dinettes; and in the smaller apartments, there were no pantries or maids' rooms at all. Even with these limitations, the Normandy was advertised as a modern building for people of means." 

Despite its great vistas of the Hudson River, Riverside Drive had had trouble establishing itself as a prestigious residential address because of the New York Central Railroad tracks that ran along the river until they were covered over in 1937. 

"The building's name, as well as its styling, were undoubtedly inspired by the French ocean liner, the Normandie, which set a speed record on her maiden trans-Atlantic voyage appointed in the most fashionable Moderne style by France's leading designers and artists, and when the ship arrived in New York, it caused a sensation," Ruttenberg recalled. 

(In 1940, the famous oceanliner was seized as enemy property by the United States in 1940 and as it was being converted to a troopship it burned and capsized at a Hudson River pier.) 


Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 29 / 44

Out of 36

Location Rating: 33 / 36

Out of 39

Features Rating: 20 / 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
  • #21 Rated co-op in Manhattan
  • #6 Rated co-op - Upper West Side
  • #1 Rated co-op - Riverside Dr./West End Ave.
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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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