One of Manhattan's
shorter avenues, East End Avenue is similar to Sutton Place, about
a mile to the south, in that it boasts of a block of nice townhouses,
many spectacular river views and a mix of apartment buildings,
some of which are among the best in the city.
Sutton Place has been fully developed for a few decades, but East
End Avenue still has some underdeveloped sites in its southwestern
Whereas Sutton Place has
several small parks and one large communal garden overlooking
the East River shared by the townhouses between 57th and 58th
Street, the northern section of East End Avenue and the short
block of Gracie Square front on Carl Schurz Park, named after
the politician and newspaper editor and which overlooks the East
River and contains Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the
Mayor of the City of New York (although Mayor Bloomberg has chosen
to reside in his own townhouse on 79th Street between Fifth and
Park is quite pleasant with a formal entrance at the terminus
of East 86th Street, a playground at 84th Street and a broad esplanade
that stretches for several blocks. "A brilliant solution
to the intersection of city, river and highway. Suspended over
FDR Drive is a sinuous expansive esplanade overlooking Hell Gate's
It is edged
with a curved, user-friendly wrought iron fence so effective that
its form was appropriated for the Battery Park City esplanade,"
noted Elliot Willensky and Norval White in their wonderful book,
"The A.I.A. Guide to New York City, Fourth Edition,"
Three Rivers Press, 2000. To the north, it overlooks the Triborough
Bridge, which opened in 1936, which is elevated over Randalls
and Wards Islands, and the Hells Gate Bridge, which opened in
1917 and was designed by Gustav Lindenthal.
excellent cross-town bus service on 79th and 86th Streets and
York Avenue, but the closest subway line is on Lexington Avenue.
There is express bus service to the Wall Street area that stops
at 79th Street.
terminus of East End Avenue is 79th Street, where the full-block
City & Suburban Homes project of low-rise apartment buildings,
many with courtyards, had been the site of a major development
controversy in the early 1990s. Peter Kalikow, a developer who
at the time was the publisher of The New York Post and
went on to become the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, had acquired the complex and announced plans to raze
it and erect four high-rise luxury apartment towers. As part of
his plan, he offered to relocate existing residents on the block
into upgraded apartments on the site at the same rents, but community
opposition thwarted his plan and led to the block's designation
as an official city landmark. The block had been an early "model
tenement" scheme, similar to another further down York Avenue
in the mid-60s.
Cherokee Apartments that occupy much of the block between the
FDR Drive and York Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets, the City
& Suburban buildings had little architectural distinction.
are nicely maintained, they are drab, in marked contrast to the
very impressive, pre-war luxury apartment building at One East
End Avenue directly across 79th Street.
Queen Anne-style townhouses between 86th and 87th Streets constitute
the Henderson Place Historic District. There are 24 townhouses
remaining out of the original 32 that were designed by Lamb &
Rich and erected in 1882. Henderson Place is a mid-block cul-de-sac
that has entrances to some of the houses across from the lobby
of a high-rise apartment building.
townhouse block between 86th and 87th Streets has great charm
while also providing more light and air and good vistas to its
surrounding buildings, the low-rise building at 91 East End Avenue
has undergone several renovations over the years.
It was remodeled
to create very spacious, loft-like apartments in the last quarter
of the 20th Century and given a black stucco facade emblazoned
with a very large stainless steel street number, but at the start
of the 21st Street its gray fašade was painted white in
another remodeling and the large and handsome street number sign
is not the only attraction to the East End Avenue area. Two of
the city's finest private schools for girls Chapin and Brearley
are located one block part. Chapin occupies a nice Georgian-style
building on the northeast corner of 84th Street at 100 East End
Avenue. The 1928 building was designed by Delano & Aldrich.
The Chapin School was enlarged in 2007-8.
a very quiet area with little traffic, which also means that it
is not always easy to catch a cab. Brearley (see The City
occupies a 10-story building directly overlooking the East River
at 612 East 83rd Street. It was designed by Benjamin Wistar Morris
and completed in 1929. In 1941, the John H. Finley Walk (named
after a former president of the City Council and an associate
editor of The New York Times, was opened extending the
esplanade of Carl Schurz Park a few blocks to the south and provided
an overpass extension to the Brearley School.
superb "Streetscapes" column in the September 2, 2007
edition of The New York Times, Chrisopher Gray wrote in
the 1920s, "East End was still a mix of tenements, and, below
84th Street, factories," adding that "Elisabeth Pell,
who lived on 86th Street off East End in the 1920s, said in 1980,
'We would just sniff along - coffee, sugar, something that smelled
like popcorn, all depending on the wind.'" (9/4/07)
Green Sports and Arts Center at 655 East 90th Street is one of
the area's major landmarks with its parabolic arch structure.
It was originally the Municipal Asphalt Plant and was designed
by Kahn & Jacobs and erected in 1944. In 1982, it was altered
to designs by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum with Pasanella +
Klein as design architects into a sports center. In 1993, the
Asphalt Green Aquacenter was opened at 1790 York Avenue between
90th and 92nd Streets to designs by Richard Dattner. "A sensuous
Post Modern construction in undulating brick, glass block, and
bright green sash. An honor for the neighborhood," proclaimed
authors Willensky and White in their "AIA Guide to New York
Architecture, Fourth Edition."
wonderful book, "New York 1960, Architecture and Urbanism
Between The Second World War and the Bicentennial," (The
Monacelli Press, 1995), Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and
David Fishman noted that in 1968 a major proposal might have significantly
altered the northern vistas from Gracie Mansion:
question the most aesthetically and technologically daring postwar
proposal for the Upper East Side's riverfront was Moshe Safdie's
unrealized Habitat I (1968). Like Safdie's similar and also unrealized
Habitat II, later proposed for lower Manhattan..., the sprawling
development, which included stores, parking and a marina in addition
to housing, was to be composed of complexly interlocking lightweight
concrete modular units. The project, planned for a platform to
be built in the East River, would extend roughly from Ninety-first
to Ninety-fourth Street; a portion of the complex was to span
the FDR Drive. Each octahedral unit was to be thirty-two feet
across; some apartments would feature duplex formats, skylights
and landscaped terraces. Pivoting interior walls would allow for
the simple redesign of room configurations."
design is illustrated in the authors' book and it is sad that
Safdie was unable to develop such projects in the city as they
superb examples of Brutalist megaprojects, which have unfortunately
been too much derided by some critics.