740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building

Front Cover
Broadway Books, 2006 - Architecture - 561 pages
5 Reviews
From the author of House of Outrageous Fortune

For seventy-five years, it's been Manhattan's richest apartment building, and one of the most lusted-after addresses in the world. One apartment had 37 rooms, 14 bathrooms, 43 closets, 11 working fireplaces, a private elevator, and his-and-hers saunas; another at one time had a live-in service staff of 16. To this day, it is steeped in the purest luxury, the kind most of us could only imagine, until now.

The last great building to go up along New York's Gold Coast, construction on 740 Park finished in 1930. Since then, 740 has been home to an ever-evolving cadre of our wealthiest and most powerful families, some of America's (and the world's) oldest money--the kind attached to names like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Bouvier, Chrysler, Niarchos, Houghton, and Harkness--and some whose names evoke the excesses of today's monied elite: Kravis, Koch, Bronfman, Perelman, Steinberg, and Schwarzman. All along, the building has housed titans of industry, political power brokers, international royalty, fabulous scam-artists, and even the lowest scoundrels.

The book begins with the tumultuous story of the building's construction. Conceived in the bubbling financial, artistic, and social cauldron of 1920's Manhattan, 740 Park rose to its dizzying heights as the stock market plunged in 1929--the building was in dire financial straits before the first apartments were sold. The builders include the architectural genius Rosario Candela, the scheming businessman James T. Lee (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's grandfather), and a raft of financiers, many of whom were little more than white-collar crooks and grand-scale hustlers.

Once finished, 740 became a magnet for the richest, oldest families in the country: the Brewsters, descendents of the leader of the Plymouth Colony; the socially-registered Bordens, Hoppins, Scovilles, Thornes, and Schermerhorns; and top executives of the Chase Bank, American Express, and U.S. Rubber. Outside the walls of 740 Park, these were the people shaping America culturally and economically. Within those walls, they were indulging in all of the Seven Deadly Sins.

As the social climate evolved throughout the last century, so did 740 Park: after World War II, the building's rulers eased their more restrictive policies and began allowing Jews (though not to this day African Americans) to reside within their hallowed walls. Nowadays, it is full to bursting with new money, people whose fortunes, though freshly-made, are large enough to buy their way in.

At its core this book is a social history of the American rich, and how the locus of power and influence has shifted haltingly from old bloodlines to new money. But it's also much more than that: filled with meaty, startling, often tragic stories of the people who lived behind 740's walls, the book gives us an unprecedented access to worlds of wealth, privilege, and extraordinary folly that are usually hidden behind a scrim of money and influence. This is, truly, how the other half--or at least the other one hundredth of one percent--lives.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - michelesw - LibraryThing

740 Park was designed by Rosario Candela, already renowned in NYC for his luxury high rise apartment buildings, which were rapidly replacing the private homes that once lined Park and Fifth Avenues ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thebookbabe - LibraryThing

Took me about 5 weeks to read this book - not that it wasn't interesting, but it weighs a ton! Too heavy to cart to & from work so I only read it at night before going to sleep. This was a fascinating ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
17
Section 3
26
Section 4
33
Section 5
47
Section 6
59
Section 7
70
Section 8
95
Section 20
262
Section 21
268
Section 22
285
Section 23
289
Section 24
304
Section 25
321
Section 26
332
Section 27
346

Section 9
110
Section 10
125
Section 11
135
Section 12
152
Section 13
161
Section 14
169
Section 15
190
Section 16
201
Section 17
216
Section 18
241
Section 19
252
Section 28
361
Section 29
383
Section 30
399
Section 31
419
Section 32
429
Section 33
445
Section 34
459
Section 35
478
Section 36
495
Section 37
505
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

MICHAEL GROSS has written for Esquire, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, and countless other publications. Currently a contributing editor at Travel & Leisure, he is also the author of Genuine Authentic and the New York Times bestselling Model. He lives in New York City.


From the Hardcover edition.

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