A History of Styles and Architectural Heritage

Photo 1: The Windermere is a beautiful Romanesque-revival-style building with patterned brickwork at the corner of 57th Street and Ninth Avenue.  It is believed to be the oldest apartment building in Manhattan, constructed in 1881 by architect Theophilus G. Smith, preceding the Gramercy (1883) and Dakota (1884) apartment buildings. Interestingly, the Windermere apartments were boldly advertised in City newspapers as flats for single, working women.

It is also a building that sadly illustrates the limited power of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.  Designated as a Landmarks’ building in June 2005, the Windermere is considered an “endangered building” and is not safe for occupancy.  It became a neglected single-room-occupancy (SRO) hotel and a home to artists and actors as well as drug users and prostitues.  The building, which has been in ruins for over 20 years. and become a symbol of landlord-tenant battles, is currently undergoing a major rennovation.  Although the Landmarks Conservancy and some nonprofit organizations have attempted to preserve and restore the Windermere, preserving a building requires the cooperation of the owners of the building.  Until recently the building was owned by a Japanese company whose representatives were very good at avoiding court hearings.  In May 2009, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission announced that new owners have agreed to restore the building.  The previous owners paid $1.1 million in penalties (for not maintaining the structure) and settled a lawsuit with the six remaining (rent-stablizhed) tenants for a combined $2.6 million. 

Photo 2:  Modern skyscrapers of glass and many angles cast their shadows along Park Avenue; 

Photo 3: Street in Morningside Heights (upper Manhattan) with a variety of architectural styles

Photo 4:   WILLIAM BEAVER HOUSE apartment building (on left with yellow tiles) in old downtown New York among early buildings on Beaver Street (the American International skyscraper is on the far right).

Photo 5:  a building located at Broadway and East 12th Street.