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969 Fifth Avenue

Southeast corner at 78th Street

969 Fifth Avenue

By Carter B. Horsley

By the late 1920’s, the era of building great luxury apartments on Fifth Avenue was beginning to wind down.

"The designs became more perfunctory," noted Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins in their excellent book, "New York 1930, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Two World Wars," (Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1987), citing this building, among others, for "bland and somewhat repetitious" facades, "demonstrating a shifting of emphasis to the continuity of the avenue’s wall, as they formed a front to the park." "The individual apartments," they continued, "became less elaborate as well, reflecting not only a simplification of living style but also the fact the very rich increasingly looked on a New York apartment as a pied-à-terre rather than as a permanent residence."

969 Fifth Avenue sidestreet entrance

At 969 Fifth Avenue, a building with a longer frontage on the sidestreet than on the avenue, the "look" was down upon one of the city’s most beautiful mansions, the large, limestone house modeled in 1912 by Horace Trumbauer after the Hotel Labbatière in Bordeaux, France, for James B. Duke, the president of the American Tobacco Company. Duke, who was known as "Buck," lived in this magnificent home with his only child, Doris, who in 1958 gave it to New York University, which uses it for its prestigious Institute of Fine Arts, a breeding ground for museum directors and curators.

A 16-story, dark brown brick building with a one-story stone base and only 13 apartments, 969 Fifth Avenue was built in 1924 and converted to a cooperative in 1946.

First floor window grate

First Floor window grate

The building has very attractive window grates on the first floor but only one of them has brass cross bars and the others are black.

While the design of this building by Joseph L. Raimist is uninspired, its location and its few apartments make it very desirable. One block away from cross-town bus service and a major entrance to Central Park, it is convenient to the avenue’s many museums (and the Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue at 75th Street) as well as the many fashionable boutiques of Madison Avenue.

For more information on 969 Fifth Avenue check its entry at CityRealty.com

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