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952 Fifth Avenue

Between 76th & 77th Streets

952 Fifth Avenue

By Carter B. Horsley

This mid-block apartment building may be small, but it has a prized location along one of the nicest and quietest stretches of Fifth Avenue.

The city’s first Zoning Resolution, enacted in 1916, permitted buildings to rise 150 feet along Central Park on the avenue, by in 1920 the Real Estate Board of New York, the City Club and the Fifth Avenue Association successfully campaigned to lower that height limit to 75 feet.

"Many property owners viewed this portion of the zoning law as an unwelcome invitation to real estate speculation and chaotic physical change," noted Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins in their important book, "New York 1930, Architecture and Humanism Between The Two World Wars," Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., (1987).

"An amendment to that effect was enacted in November 1921, only to be immediately challenged by other landholders and real estate speculators, including Vincent Astor, as well as by J. E. R. Carpenter, who had begun to serve not only as an architect but also as a developer of apartment houses. In 1923 the decision of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York to overturn the seventy-five-foot restriction and return to the 150-foot limit was upheld by the Court of Appeals, clearing the way for the nearly complete reconstruction of Fifth Avenue’s park blocks, a reconstruction that would begin barely ten years after the completion of the last great mansion, Delano & Aldrich’s house for Willard Straight of 1914 [on the northeast corner at 94th Street]....Only one apartment house was built under the seventy-five foot restriction: Henry Otis Chapman’s 952 Fifth Avenue of 1923, which rose only eight stories on a previously vacant site."

The original, Italian-Renaissance-palazzo-style, limestone-clad building designed by H. 0. Chapman and erected in 1923 is the oldest building on this blockfront, which also includes apartment buildings designed by J. E. R. Carpenter at 950 and Rosario Candela at 955.

After World War II, several floors were added to the building in a setback tower.

What really sets this modest building of mostly small apartments is its rental status as there are very few such buildings left on Fifth Avenue.

The building has a canopied entrance and a doorman. It is not close to subways and has no health club and no concierge. The building is convenient to several art galleries and restaurants and many of the apartments have views of Central Park.

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