From time to time, I leave the sanctity of my room with no view. I am always pleasantly surprised to discover that there is indeed a whole other world out there beyond my windowless walls. And in that world, nestled amongst the masses of people, are wonderful little places that catch my eye. The Alwyn Court Apartment building most certainly caught my eye last June.
The Alwyn Court Apartments have stood at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 58th Street since 1909. The Original apartments were designed to have fourteen rooms and five bathrooms, though these were later subdivided during the Great Depression. Built in the French Renaissance style, it is covered in Gothic Terra cotta designs that includes dragons, urns, cameos and crowns. With many more intricate details, this facade drew praise from critics at the time it was unveiled.
With two apartments per floor, if you were lucky enough to be able to afford one of them in 1910, it would have cost you $10,000 a month. Unless you wanted the one duplex available! Being only one block off of Central Park, you would really have to think this was a steal of a deal. However, the president of the United Cigar Stores, Jacob Wertheim, moved into the duplex and so you wouldn't have had a chance. Another early tenant included one of the Steinways.
These little darlings to the left look sick to their stomach, as if they've eaten too much caviar!
A large fire raged through the building shortly after it opened, when only five apartments had been let. No one was injured, though the lack of fire safety design was highlighted at this time. Fully occupied for the next few decades, the Midtown area around it lost popularity and it was empty by the mid-thirties. Gutted, it was redesigned to have 75 apartments. No longer an address of elite businessmen, it was soon rented to capacity and began to turn a profit.
At this time, The Petrossian Restaurant occupies the first floor. With a French contemporary menu, you could fill yourself to bursting on their smoked fish, caviar and foie gras.
It is this kind of craftsmanship that is visible throughout the city, and I suspect, is largely ignored by the uncounted New Yorkers who stride along West 58th street and Seventh Avenue during their daily hustle. I was able to enjoy the magnificent view during a quiet summer morning, and have captured these images for you to enjoy as well.