BOOK TO BUY: Manhattan Classic: New York’s Finest Prewar Apartments by Geoffrey Lynch…
I was thrilled to receive a copy of Manhattan Classic to review from Princeton Architectural Press.
I’m addicted to the architecture of New York, especially any part related to Gilded Age-Jazz Age social history of the 1870s to the 1930s. Note that “pre-war” refers to the period before World War II, and typically a term used in the US.
This book from Geoffrey Lynch, a partner at the New York-based H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, doesn’t disappoint. There are beautiful images, interesting and well researched text, and an example of a floor plan from every building included in the book.
Surprisingly for someone as obsessed with photography as much as I am, it was the inclusion of floor plans which hooked me the most. Perhaps it was realising that not everyone – even the best architects of the day – could always come up with the ideal layout in the first instance.
As the pre-war architects learnt, it took time to finesse the style of the grand “townhouses in the sky” to entice the elite of Manhattan to move from their large traditional homes into giant boxes which they shared with others.
Having had a month’s break from posting on Luscious to work on writing three books of my own, it’s been a luscious diversion to curl up in bed with Mr Lynch’s book on my lap, closely inspecting the photos and studying the floor plans, dreaming about which building I’d choose to live in if I had the chance.
…And wishing I could step back in time to meet with the likes of Emery Roth, James T. Lee (the grandfather of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis), Rosario Candela, J. E. R. Carpenter, or the triumvirate of McKim, Mead & White.
My only criticism is that I would have liked to see larger pictures of the exteriors, considering how important they were to the look of Manhattan as a whole when built, and the city we know today, and even more photos of the interiors.
But I console myself that Google can help me out with images, old and new, as well as street views of all of these buildings as we see them in 2014.
I think the sign of a good book is that it inspires you to want to learn even more. With every few pages of Geoffrey Lynch’s book, I’ve been stopping to write notes about things to follow up on, and have already spent a fortune ordering more books on the topic of New York’s history.
I’ve felt motivated to draft posts for Luscious about some of these buildings, the property developers, architects and designers who created them, and the intriguing people who could afford to live in them, so watch this space.
My thanks to Mr Lynch for the inspiration to pursue my own research, and for giving me a peek into an exclusive world.
The official blurb:
The Dakota. The Apthorp. The San Remo. The names of these legendary New York apartment buildings evoke images of marble-lined lobbies, uniformed doormen, and sunlit penthouses with sweeping Central Park views. Built from the 1880s through 1930s, classic prewar apartments were designed to lure townhouse dwellers reluctant to share a roof with other families. Billed as private mansions in the sky, they promised a charmed Manhattan lifestyle of elegance and luxury.
Manhattan Classic takes readers on a lavishly illustrated guided tour of eighty-five of the most coveted buildings in New York. Author Geoffrey Lynch provides capsule histories, equal parts architectural and social history, of the most celebrated examples, with anecdotes about well-known residents and essential information about notable features.
This gorgeous coffee table book is an indispensible resource for apartment hunters, real estate and design professionals, and anyone fascinated by the grace and glamour of prewar style.
Includes a Manhattan street map locating each building, exterior photographs, sample floor plans, and full-color shots of furnished interiors’
Features biographies of key architects and indexes listing 500 top buildings, organized by neighborhood and architect
A colorful cross section of New York society past and present make cameo appearances, from Ginger Rogers and gangster Meyer Lansky to Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, who were famously turned down in their bid to purchase an apartment at The Dakota
Geoffrey Lynch is a partner at the New York-based H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
Take a look inside the book here:
Scroll through our collection of photos from the book here:
- The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter by Andrew Alpern
- Manhattan Classic: New York’s Finest Prewar Apartments by Geoffrey Lynch
- New York’s Fabulous Luxury Apartments: With Original Floor Plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower and Other Great Buildings by Andrew Alpern
- Grand Hotels of the Jazz Age: The Architecture of Schultze & Weaver by Marianne Lamonaca
- Triumvirate: McKim, Mead & White: Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America’s Gilded Age by Mosette Broderick
- Mansions in the Clouds: The Skyscraper Palazzi of Emery Roth by Steven Ruttenbaum
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