The inner steel frame of Central Park West’s Majestic apartment building on display during construction in 1931. (MCNY)
The pioneering modern architect William Lescaze designed this East 48th Street house for his family and incorporated an office into the basement level. Completed in 1934, the building is actually a redesign of an earlier row house, is generally considered to be the first truly “modern” house in New York. It has a complex, rationally designed street front with precisely balanced solids and voids. The white stuccoed facade is pierced by casement ribbon windows and expanses of glass block, the first use of that material in the city.
This small cottage in the Bronx was the home of Edgar Allan Poe towards the end of his life. As development swept through the Fordham area in the late 19th century, the house was slated for demolition, but a public outcry led to its preservation in 1902. In 1913, the circa 1812 house was moved from its original location to its present site on the Grand Concourse at the north end of Poe Park. Today, the cottage operates as a museum.
To learn more about Poe’s time in the Bronx, watch this short video by the Bronx County Historical Society: http://goo.gl/6ZAR2N.
The oldest surviving house in New York City is the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House in Brooklyn. Built circa 1645 with a 1740s addition, this wooden, one-story farmhouse is an example of the Flemish Medieval Survival and the Dutch Colonial styles of architecture. The house remained in the Wyckoff family from its construction until 1901. In 1965, the house became New York City’s first Landmark. Today, the building is a museum.
The oldest surviving structure in Queens is the Lent Homestead, a Dutch Colonial farmhouse, which dates from about 1729. The materials of the farmhouse, which include fieldstone and hewn timbers and siding, are representative of Seventeenth Century farmhouses.
Photo: The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead, www.rikerhome.com.
This 1848 daguerreotype of a house in today’s Upper West Side is thought to be the oldest photo of New York City. See how much the image sold for at auction in 2009: http://goo.gl/rbWDaZ
The Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House, although built in several phases, contains the oldest surviving wing of any house on Staten Island. Built around 1679, this section of the house is distinctive for its steep medieval type roof and boasts an immense Dutch fireplace with a huge chimney head supported on two wooden posts. Today, the house is part of Historic Richmond Town.
Architect Marcel Breuer’s remarkable trapezoidal structure, Begrisch Hall, was designed as part of an expansion of the University Heights campus at Bronx Community College. Executed in reinforced concrete, this daring modern design features a pair of sloping cantilevers that appear to defy gravity. These forms reflect the specific programming requirements for the college, namely steep-floored lecture halls. The building was completed in 1961.
Hungarian-born Breuer, one of the first students at the Bauhaus and a life-long friend of its founder Walter Gropius, was responsible for more than 100 buildings, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as several well-known Modernist furniture designs like the Wassily Chair.
The Van Cortlandt Mansion, built in 1748, is the oldest surviving house in the Bronx. The house and its surrounding land were owned for generations by the Van Cortlandt family. The site played a significant role in the Revolutionary War. It was from here that General Washington deceived British troops by keeping campfires burning for several days, while he was able to safely withdraw his troops across the Hudson. Today, the house is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and is a museum that is open to the public.