By Carter B. Horsley
One of New York's most prestigious addresses,
960 Fifth Avenue is noted for its grand apartments, most of which
have different layouts, its quite lavish restaurant for the residents,
the Georgian Suite, with its own entrance at 1A East 77th Street,
and its large cast-iron marquee that hovers over a conventional
canvas canopy, and its hooded figures that adorn its facade as
shown in the photograph below.
It was cited as one of the city's "A-plus"
buildings "that signify that you are wealthy and social,
that you have made it to the pinnacle of what many consider world
society," observed Monique P. Yazigi in an November 23, 1997
article in The New York Times. The article said that most
residents in the building "are worth over $100 million"
and that apartments cost about $15 million. In the mid-1970's,
at the bottom of the city's flirt with bankruptcy, the large duplex
maisonette apartment with its own entrance on the avenue was offered
for about $160,000!
The building was designed by Warren & Wetmore,
one of the main architectural firms that designed Grand Central
Terminal, and Rosario Candela, an architect who specialized in
luxury apartment buildings, and Cross & Cross were the supervising
architects for the developer, Anthony Campagna.
In 1923, the New York Court of Appeals ruled
that a prior 75-foot-high restriction along Park Lane (Fifth Avenue
along Central Park) could be increased to 150 feet and "Millionaire's
Row" of sumptuous mansions quickly gave way to luxury apartment
"No loss was viewed in retrospect to have
been greater than that of Senator William Clark's 121-room pile
at Seventy-seventh Street, which was felled by the wrecker's ball
in 1926," wrote Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and
Thomas Mellins in their book, "New York 1930, Architecture
and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars," (Rizzoli, 1988).
"Yet at the time only The New York
Times appeared moved: 'As for the Clark palace, it has been
condemned unreasonably, indiscriminately. An echo of the architectural
orgy of the Paris Exposition of 1900, its only fault is that it
stops short of perfection in its kind. The inlaid gold leaf that
decks its interior woodwork should have been spread upon its fantastic
stonework without. Its astronomical tower should have been surmounted
by an orrery with a sun of flame and planets of solid gold. It
might thus have truly exemplified the senatorial mood of the eighteen-nineties,
illumined by the ambitions of a doge.'…The avenue's last
grand apartment house was 960 Fifth Avenue. In fact, in terms
of scale of accommodation and ambition of architectural expression
960 was the only genuine rival to the avenue's first apartment
palace, at 998 Fifth Avenue. Replacing Senator William Clark's
house, 960 was designed in two sections by Warren & Wetmore
and Rosario Candela in 1927-28. The principal portion, facing
Fifth Avenue, contained fourteen lavish cooperative apartments,
with fifty-one smaller units relegated to the back rental building
facing Seventy-seventh Street. The bland Indiana limestone facades
of the building were relieved by the irregular fenestration that
hinted at the complex arrangement of apartments within. One apartment,
designed for Preston Pope Satterwhite on the tenth and part of
the eleventh floor, contained seventeen rooms, including a two-story
high, 60-by-25-foot living room that was said to the grandest
found in an American apartment. The other units in the building,
only three of which shared the same plan, were far from shabby,"
the authors continued.
This building also replaced the Charles F. Dieterich
house at 963 Fifth Avenue.
The Clark mansion was celebrated for its flamboyance.
960 Fifth Avenue, in contrast, is renown for its sedate grandeur.
It is not the handsomest of the avenue's palatial apartment buildings,
but its location, away from busy cross-streets, crowded museums
and bustling zoos, appeals to those who crave exclusivity and
magnificence. Tenants have included Douglas Dillon and Robert
The ninth floor facing the avenue has some
large arched windows behind a very impressive balcony with large