Great Architects of New York: Henry J. Hardenbergh
The Ontiora
Addresses
200 West 55th Street or
856 Seventh Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10019
Location
West 55th Street and Seventh Avenue, southwest corner
Neighborhood
Midtown
Built
Nov. 2, 1882, to Sept. 29, 1883
Use
Apartments and a deli.
AIA Guide
N/A
Landmark Status
Not a landmark

This was the last building put up by Edward S. Clark, who, with Hardenbergh as his architect, built the Van Corlear apartment house, which once stood across 55th Street from this building, the Wyoming apartment building, which once stood on the other side of Seventh Avenue and has been replaced by a building of the same name, the Dakota and rowhouses on West 73rd Street. At first it had one apartment per floor. Now there are 3 per floor. The Ontiora is next door to the famous Carnegie Deli. There was talk in 1997 that it and some adjacent properties would one day be fit for demolition. From The Times, in 1997:
THE Clarks were famous for keeping their properties in top condition, but the Ontiora is now far from what Edward Clark envisioned: dirty and bedraggled, swamped by traffic and noise, the ground floor now turned over to commerce. The halls have open trash cans -- Clark would have had staff whisk any garbage away by dumbwaiter -- and the walls are grimy with age.

Yet the Ontiora is still a wonderful place, in part because of the sense of discovery that greets a first-time visitor. The stairhall is lit by a series of richly colored stained-glass windows with gemlike insets, neglected but still spectacular. Even cut up, the apartments have a rambling, Victorian quality, with 10 1/2-foot ceilings.

Newspaper articles
  • Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes: The Ontiora; Behind a Scruffy Facade, Kinship to the Dakota." The New York Times, March 9, 1997; Sec. 9, p. 5