By Carter B. Horsley
On a boulevard like West End
Avenue or Park Avenue where most buildings are quite similar in
size and configuration, it is often hard to stand out.
Sometimes a building can make
itself more visible by having a very large cornice, such as can
be found on the Astor Court apartment building on Broadway at
Sometimes it can have a very
large marquee like that at 960 Fifth Avenue.
Sometimes it can have a marvelous
rooftop watertank enclosure like that at 40 Fifth Avenue, or illuminated
beacons like those atop the San Remo on Central Park West at 74th
Sidewalk building lanterns
are another way to distinguish a building. The best in the city
are found on the Sherry-Netherlands Hotel on Fifth Avenue at 59th
Street where winged dragons have them hanging from their mouths.
This building at 645 West End
Avenue on the southwest corner at 92nd Street has the second best
such lights. The lights themselves are simple, just large globes,
but their hanging devices are enormous upside-down, wrought-iron
hook-shaped projections that are both ominous and mysterious and
very grand. Something of great portent must be transpiring here,
Such flamboyant, eccentric
gestures are the wonderful surprises of the city. While some observers
view West End Avenue as quite demure and sedate, albeit attractive
and dignified, it is, in fact, full of delightful and unusual
architectural touches, especially in this area: witness the large
green shields atop 600 West End Avenue at 89th Street, the fearsome
but exotic fence around 610 West End Avenue at 90th Street and
the bold masonry cross-hatching atop 680 West End Avenue at 93rd
This building was erected in
1912 and converted to a cooperative in 1983. Its four-step-up
entrance is recessed in a deep lightwell and has a large arch
surmounted by the letter "H" incised in stone above
the doors, which are flanked by tall, narrow, arched stained-glass
windows. The large lobby also has stained-glass ornamentation.
The entrance does not have a canopy, but perhaps once did as it
would have lessened the bold impact of the hanging globes at the
front of the lightwell.
The building has a two-story
rusticated limestone base over a half-story granite base. The
top floor has arched windows and the building has a concierge
and permits protruding air-conditioners.
The building has no garage,
no roofdeck and no health club and is several blocks away from