By Carter B. Horsley
This handsome, 12-story, limestone-clad, cooperative
apartment building is relatively plain for such a prestigious
location, but its glory is mostly internal.
The building, which is just to the north of
Temple Emanu-El, only has 16 apartments. Originally each floor
had only one 18-room apartment, but a few were subdivided since
its completed in 1920.
The apartments have very high ceilings of 11
to13 feet and two huge, equally sized, entertaining rooms that
take up the entire Fifth Avenue frontage overlooking Central Park.
These rooms were joined by a long gallery along the south side
of the building to a large dining room and the rest of the apartment
and the gallery in many of the apartments have windows overlooking
Temple Emanu-El on the adjacent avenue lot, which was once occupied
by the twin houses of Mrs. William Astor and her son, John Jacob
The building, which is also known as 845 Fifth
Avenue, was designed by J. E. R. Carpenter, one of the city's
most skilled residential architects, for William Henry Barnum.
Cross & Cross were associated architects.
"Carpenter was the man who set the twenties
in motion. He was a Fifth Avenue architect, and he launched the
decade with an apartment house that rose up above the Astor mansion
at 66th Street like the ultimate challenge," wrote Elizabeth
Hawes in her fine book, "New York, New York, How the Apartment
House Transformed the Life of the City (1869-1930)," (An
Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company, 1993). "For one last time,
the neighbors, together with the Fifth Avenue Association, the
City Club, and the Real Estate Board, responded with old-fashioned
alarm, and for one last time, the city responded with restrictive
legislation, which reduced the maximum building height on the
park blocks between 60th and 96th Street from 150 feet to 75.
It was a brief release from the tide of the times. By 1923, Carpenter
had brought a successful test case to judgment, which overcame
the ruling and opened Fifth Avenue to apartment-house construction.
The next year, the Astor place itself fell, and it was suddenly
clear that the great family mansion - indeed the family house
of any description - was going the way of the farms and shanties
of earlier times." Hawes continued.
Carpenter designed about a dozen important
Fifth Avenue apartment buildings such as 810, 825, 907, 920, 950,
988, 1030, 1060, 1120, 1143, 1148, 1150, 1165 and 1170.
Bernard Baruch, the well-known financial advisor,
lived on the second floor for many years.
The building has a doorman, a concierge and
sidewalk landscaping, but no sundeck, no health club, no balconies
and no garage. There is considerable traffic in the area.