Upon my visits to the city, I am beginning to take note of fabulous places I come across, to find out what is the history behind them. When I am walking all day, as this day on the Upper West Side, I come across historic pieces of artwork, like the Ansonia. It kept me staring at it for a good half hour. I should have walked over to take a close look, maybe next visit, but I was just in love with this building. A Beaux-Arts design, which seems to be my favorite, along with Art Deco, the workmanship is unbelievable. When I got home, and looked up the history, I fell more in love with the place.
The Ansonia was built by Phelps-Dodge copper heir William Earl Dodge Stokes, a noted builder and one of the leading developers of Riverside Drive, the Upper West Side, and the Broadway Mall. It was designed in accordance with his specific instructions by the prominent European architect Emile Paul DuBoy, who also designed the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on Riverside Drive at 89th Street. Construction began in 1887, and upon its completion in 1904 (when it was named for the Connecticut community founded by Stoke's grandfather, Anson Green Phelps of the Ansonia Brass & Copper Company), The Ansonia was the largest residential hotel of its day. Legend has it that Mr. Stokes wanted The Ansonia to be much taller, but stopped at the 17th floor because he liked the view.
In addition to 400 original residential suites and 1,218 rooms, The Ansonia had every luxury of the period, including a pneumatic tube system that allowed tenants to exchange messages and gossip; Turkish baths; six passenger elevators, as well as large service elevators and dumbwaiters for delivery to apartment kitchens; several restaurants decorated in the Gilded-Age style of Louis XIV; two swimming pools, including the world's largest indoor pool; basement shops; fresh eggs, courtesy of the chickens in Mr. Stokes' rooftop farm; and seals that frolicked in its lobby fountain. A list of The Ansonia's past guests and residents reads like a "who's who" of the art and entertainment world. Some of its most famous residents included musical immortals Enrico Caruso, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscanini, Gustave Mahler, Yehudi Menuhin, Lily Pons and Ezio Pinza; theatrical notables Sol Hurok, Florenz Ziegfeld, Sarah Bernhardt, Bille Burke, Moss Hart, Tony Curtis and Paul Sorvino; sports legends Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey; and writers Elmer Rice, W.L. Stodard and Theodore Dreiser.
From the moment of its completion, The Ansonia inspired a unique aura of glamour, eccentricity and intrigue. Legends about its famous residents abound: Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior used its halls for target practice; Theodore Dreiser wrote An American Tragedy during his residence; the Secret Service foiled a German plot to blow it up on the eve of the Atlantic Fleet's Naval ball just before World War I; The Ansonia was the site of the Chicago White Sox conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series; the building's vast size permitted ladies man Flo Ziegfeld to keep his wife and mistress in separate apartments; Bette Midler and Barry Manilow began their careers at the legendary Continental Baths; and Babe Ruth's neighbors were grateful for its thick, soundproof walls after living in The Ansonia inspired him to take up the saxophone.
The Ansonia is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and was designated as a New York City landmark on March 14, 1972 by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, which called its effect one of "joyous exuberance profiled against the sky." The Ansonia's landmark designation was supported by a petition with over 25,000 signatures. The Ansonia has been in numerous films and commercials. It made its film debut in The Sunshine Boys. After starring in Single White Female, it was featured in the Natalie Cole video Take A Look, played home to Michael Keaton and Marissa Tomei in Ron Howard's The Paper, and had a cameo role in White Man's Burden, Gregory Hines' directorial debut.
I am in love with this supper menu from 1907. Seems they were enjoying the bone marrow way back then, and we think it's something new in 2013 ! I will take the Lobster Newburg for $1.00 and a Demi-tasse for .15, what would you try ?
Kind of amazing to think Loehmann's is located on the bottom floor of the building
Would it not be cool to live here ? I would have loved to have been here when the building was first built. What fun residents must have had. A great article about the times of the place when it was first built can be found at Curbed New York and it is a must read!
The information posted about the building came from the Ansonia Realty Website, and also has a very neat video about the history of the building as well. Apartments are available ranging from prices of $3,000 to $8,000 per month for rentals, and to purchase for 1.3 million to 1.8 million.
Today's Words of Wisdom: Light, God's eldest daughter, is a principal beauty in a building. - Thomas Fuller
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