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810 Fifth Avenue

Northeast corner at 62nd Street

810 Fifth Avenue

View from across the avenue

By Carter B. Horsley

This elegant, 13-story, limestone-clad, Italian Renaissance-palazzo style apartment house was built on the site of a house owned by Mrs. Hamilton Fish and was completed in 1926. It was designed by J. E. R. Carpenter for the Bricken Construction Company. It has only 13 apartments and was converted to a cooperative in 1941.

Because of its superb location close to midtown and directly across from the low-rise, Georgian-style Knickerbocker Club and because of the fact that it has only one apartment per floor, this is one of the most desirable and exclusive buildings in the city.

The building is nicely detailed and has a very impressive marquee entrance on the sidestreet.

810 Fifth Avenue sidestreet marquee

View from the southwest

In his excellent book, "Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan, An Illustrated History," (Dover Publications, Inc., 1992), Andrew Alpern notes that the building’s original sales brochure discussed the convenience of nearby subway stations, a few blocks away.

Marquee entrance

Side-street marquee entrance is not centered over doorway

"Perhaps the combination of bucolic and urban amenities led Nelson Rockefeller to create a triplex penthouse in the building for his first wife, Mary Todhunter Clark, and himself. It was here that he raised his first family, and it was this apartment he most considered home, despite houses in Westchester County’s Pocantico Hills and in Venezuela. He liked it so much, in fact, that he did not move out after his divorce. As part of the settlement, he kept the lowest floor of the triplex, while his wife retained the upper two levels and converted them to a duplex for her own use. To provide for his second wife, Margaretta Fitler (‘Happy’) Murphy, and her children, Rockefeller expanded his one floor at 810 by connecting it to a full floor he purchased in the newly constructed building at 812 next door. Because of floor-level differences, a half-flight of steps was needed between the two sections of the sprawling 12,000-square-foot complex....Sensitive to his first wife, Rockefeller and his second wife planned their new home so that they could use the 812 Fifth Avenue entrance, thereby avoiding the possibility of chance encounters in the elevator of Number 810."

Nelson Rockefeller, of course, was the Governor of New York State and in 1963 former Vice President Richard Nixon purchased the fifth-floor apartment at 810 Fifth Avenue, taking possession not long after Happy and Nelson Rockefeller had moved into their new home. The two would become major rivals in the Republican Party and Nixon would eventually move out of the building.

The building, which has sidewalk landscaping and a maisonette facing the avenue, replaced many of its older multi-paned windows with modern single pane windows. The building has a doorman and a concierge, but no garage and no balconies.

For more information on this building see its entry at CityRealty.com

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