clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cornerspotted: McKim, Mead & White’s apartment building at Fifth Avenue and 81st Street

New, 2 comments

Did you guess the right location?

Alas, there were no correct guesses on yesterday’s Cornerspotter post, which featured a series of small, wood-frame houses that were eventually replaced by a much larger apartment building. Guesses were in the right general area—upper Manhattan—and jcarr518 even got the street—81st—right, if not the side of Central Park.

That’s right: The location is the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 81st Street, currently home to the enormous apartment building at 998 Fifth Avenue. The vintage photo dates from 1900, and the limestone behemoth that stands today was built in 1912. In the intervening years, the smaller houses came down, and the land—owned at one point by August Belmont—sold for $1 million to the Century Holding Company.

James T. Lee, the developer of 998 Fifth Avenue, was a partner in that company; he commissioned McKim, Mead & White to design the massive apartment building, which "combine[d] the sensible efficiencies of a multiple dwelling with the scale of a country house, using an architectural language understood by families with housing budgets measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," per an old Streetscapes column in the Times.

Translation: It was intended for the very wealthy, and it still is today. According to StreetEasy, there are no apartments currently up for grabs, but one sold in June for $21 million.