|Great Architects of New York: Henry J. Hardenbergh|
|73rd Street Rowhouses
15A, 15, 17, 19 and
41-67 West 73rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10023
West 73rd Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, north side
Upper West Side
Construction began July 20, 1882. The corner building (No. 67) was completed on May 1, 1884. Nos. 15A through 19 (and the now-demolished 21 through 27) were completed on Aug. 25, 1884. Nos. 41 through 65 (and the now-demolished 29 through 39) were completed on Jan. 31, 1885
Apartments with ground floor stores at the corner of Columbus Avenue (Nos. 65 & 67).
"These houses are another product of the collaboration of the client (Clark) and the architect (Hardenbergh) of the Dakota Apartments."
These buildings were part of the Central Park West-West 73rd-74th Streets Historic District, designated by the City in 1977 and the Federal government in 1983. That City historic district was entirely subsumed by the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District, designated in 1990.
These 18 buildings stand side by side at two locations. The first group of four, 15A, 15, 17 and 19, are nearly opposite the Dakota. The second group consists of 13 rowhouses at Nos. 41-65 and a small apartment building at the corner of Columbus Avenue. In between these two groups there were originally another 10 similar rowhouses built as part of this bunch at Nos. 21-39. These were demolished in the depression to make way for the Park Royal, a 16-story cooperative apartment building at 23 West 73rd Street. Note the solid limestone bases on each of the 17 rowhouses between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, and their red or beige brick above, next to the corner trim that matches the Dakota's. The two buildings at Columbus Avenue are simple brick with less elegant trim. These rowhouses appear to have been intended for more upscale owners than the group on the west side of Columbus Avenue. Like that group, this one was punctuated with a larger apartment building at the corner.This one, No. 67, has had a floor added, which obscures but doesn't not elminate the original roofline.
Given that 10 of the original 17 rowhouses have been demolished, it is unclear whether there were any patterns among them. What is clear, is that people of Hardenbergh's wished for townhouse blocks that did not exhibit dull uniformity. Hardenbergh here tried to create differences between the townhouses and at the same time maintain a cohesion between them. "When th eWest Side was opened for settlement," Montgomery Schuyler wrote in an 1897 mid-career review of Hardenbergh's work, "the speculative builder was credibly informed that the buyers and even the tenants of dwelling houses demanded 'variety' in the fronts. … Of the comparatively few competent architects who have striven to attain it, Mr. Hardenbergh seems to me to have been pretty clearly the most successful. … The differences are enough to secure variety without carrying it to the point of violence."
Looking at the remaining 17 houses, occasional pairs are identical, but generally these houses seem to mix and match components so that each has a unique combination of features. More specifically, Nos. 15A and 41 are identical but inverted. Both have a beige brick facade, flat roof, arched first-floor doorway (though the stoop has been removed from No. 41) and most prominently, a turret. No. 55 is similar but for the lack of turret and the square first floor doorway (now a window since the stoop has been removed). The turret returns for No. 65 (since modified with hideous 1970s distorted cubic glass windows, ugh), but this one has a gabled roof. No. 47 shares the gable but drops the turret in favor of a large second floor bay window. Nos. 53 and 57, are identical to one another (excluding 53's removed stoop) and similar to No. 47, but without the bay window. No. 17 is identical for Nos. 52 and 57, except it has a red brick facade instead of beige like the others. Nos. 15 and 49 are identical to one another (although 15 has lost its stoop), and to No. 17 except that instead of the gabled roof they have twin dormer windows. Nos. 59 and 63 are identical to one another, and to 15 and 49 but for the doorways, which replace 15 & 49's arches with square lintels. No. 51 shares the same square pediment as 59 and 63, but trades its twin dormer windows for two windows in a single dormer. (No. 19 may have been identical before modifications to the first floor doorway that accompanied the removal of the stoop. What was once the entranceway has been reduced in size to match the first floor windows at left.) Nos. 43, 45 and 61, are all identical to one another and almost to No. 51, but trade 51's square lintel for an arched one. Finally, only Nos. 15A and 63, the first and last of the original row, have triangular lintels over their doorways, symbolically punctuating the beginning and end of this pleasant but mindbending terrace.
The rowhouses are presented here from west to east.