New York, New York: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City (1869-1930)

Front Cover
A.A. Knopf, 1993 - Apartment houses - 285 pages
0 Reviews
A brilliant exercise in urban archaeology: a completely original interpretive account of the golden age of the New York luxury apartment house, a book that reveals how New York was transformed architecturally, socially, and psychologically from a provincial place to a great metropolis.
With the help of 65 photographs, drawings, and floor plans, Elizabeth Hawes shows us how New York changed from a town of private-house dwellers in the Civil War years to the great city of the Roaring Twenties and the dawn of the Art Deco Thirties, when 98 percent of the population had become apartment dwellers. She shows us how Victorian New York became modern New York, how the plush decors of rich nineteenth-century New Yorkers evolved into the cool, the white, the cubist style, the modern style.
We see how such memorable apartment buildings as the Stuyvesant, the Villard Houses, the Dakota, the Navarro, and the Apthorp sprang up in all their Queen Anne, neo-Gothic, and High and Low Renaissance glory out of the rubble of recently demolished the apartment, which began as an awkward imitation private house, emerged as a genre of its the changes wrought in New York social life reverberated in the lives and work of such people as Henry James, Edith Wharton, and William Dean Howells.
We meet the architects, builders, and financiers who were responsible for the triumph of the apartment house - among them, Richard Morris Hunt, Charles Mott, Paul E. M. Duboy, Emory Roth, Jay Gould, John La Farge, Henry Hardenbergh, Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, W. K. Vanderbilt, and William Waldorf Astor. We discover how to "read" an apartment building - what its location, size, look, texture, style, and design can tell us about the life of a city. And we meet the society grandes dames, the celebrated men and women, the style setters, who made apartment-dwelling "the thing" in New York.
Taking us inside the often amazingly innovative, often extraordinarily beautiful and luxurious apartment houses, this book makes us feel what it must have been like to live in these "cloud palaces" as opulent pioneers of a new kind of New York life. More profoundly, it shows how social and economic forces and human needs and dreams continue to change our lives - and it enriches our understanding of a great city.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A first collection of 11 interrelated stories—about the coming of age and failure-ridden adulthood of a narcissistic Florida architect unable to finish anything. We meet Dan Foley in ``Foley's Escape ... Read full review

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City (1869-1929)

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Hawes's fine book, her first, employs architectural criticism, economic chronicle, and urban sociology to create a picture of how Manhattan turned from a series of pastures broken by single-family ... Read full review


Irv1ng Place 1869
R1chard Morr1s Hunt
The Trad1t1on of Houses

11 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information