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Mapping 15 Manhattan Buildings Originally Built for Artists

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To do their work, artists need light and space?two things that can be hard to come by in Manhattan. In the early twentieth century, artists and their backers put up a number of buildings meant to meet those needs, with double-height studios, allowing for ample light, and low rents. Some of those buildings took advantage of the relatively new idea of co-op apartments and had artists buy shares in order to fund the buildings' construction and maintenance. Artists' cooperatives had occasional downsides?one resident of 130 West 57th Street filed a disorderly conduct complaint against a downstairs neighbor in 1921 over the "absolute riot" of ragtime music coming from her apartment. (The noisy neighbor in question decided to flee to Italy in search of "personal liberty" even once she was found not guilty.) But they were also home to the production of much notable work. We've rounded up 15 notable artists' buildings for the map below. Most are still standing, though the prices for their apartments are no longer so artist-friendly.


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1. Tenth Street Studio Building

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51 West 10th Street
New York, NY 10011

Many of the buildings on this list date to the first decade of the twentieth century, but those structures were preceded by the Tenth Street Studio Building, which dates to 1857. Artists including Winslow Homer and Frederic Church had studio spaces there, and the building included a central gallery. (Some of the units were just studio spaces; others had bedrooms as well.) The building was demolished in 1956, and non-artist-oriented apartments now stand on the spot. (Photo courtesy the Museum of the City of New York.)

2. Gainsborough Studios

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222 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019

To address their needs for light and space, a group of painters and sculptors formed the Gainsborough Corporation in the early 1900s to build a building full of cooperative studios for artists. They purchased 222 Central Park South, then a millionaire's mansion, in 1907, and replaced the mansion with the Gainsborough Studios. The 34 apartments at the front of the building have double-height living rooms. At the moment there's one 2BR in the building for sale.

3. Studio Building

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44 West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

The 1907 Studio Building, designed by Herbert Harde and R. Thomas Short, also had double-height studios intended for artists. But regular folk (i.e., lawyers and doctors) also lived there from the beginning. The building received some rave archicritical reviews: a "Brobdingnagian cathedral," one magazine called it; the terra cotta decoration "appears to have been squeezed out of a pastry tube," said an architectural historian. The building has one incredible penthouse on the market now.

4. Hotel Des Artistes

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1 W 67th St
New York, NY 10023

George Mort Pollard designed this building, which was built in 1917. As at other artists' residents, a number of the apartments include double-height spaces, but not only visual artists lived at the Hotel Des Artistes. Noel Coward and Fannie Hurst, for example, were among the writers in residence. There is one $2 million 1BR on the market in the building now.

5. Studio Building

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131 East 66th Street
New York, NY 10065

This building—which shares the name the Studio Building with one of the Upper West Siders on this list—was architect Charles Platt's first major city design. (He had previously been known as a country house architect.) Painter Gerald Murphy (a friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald) and baritone Lawrence Tibbett were among the early residents. There's one two-bedroom on the market now in the landmarked building.

6. 140 West 57th Street

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140 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Pollard & Steinam—who designed several other artist-oriented buildings on West 67th Street—were the architects of this structure, which was built in 1907-1908. The front of the building contained seven double-height apartments, and as the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report for the building puts it, "the tall, projecting bay windows set in geometrically-ornamented cast iron frames bring in the north light so prized by artists." 130 West 57th Street was designed by the same architects and was almost identical. (It was also the site of a disorderly conduct complaint over the "absolute riot" of ragtime.)

7. 80 West 40th Street

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80 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018

Painter (and naturalist) Abraham Archibald Anderson tried living in Connecticut so that he would have the space and light in which to work, but he wanted to be in the city—so he decided to buy four lots at 40th Street and Sixth Avenue and build a studio building there. Anderson and his wife occupied the top floor once the building was finished. Other artists took space, and eventually, Liz Claiborne had her first studio there. In the 1980s, the building received a restoration.

8. The Rembrandt

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152 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

Carnegie Hall Tower now stands where the Rembrandt Studio building went up in 1881. Christopher Gray speculated in one Streetscapes column that the Rembrandt—along with the Sherwood Studio building at 57th Street and Sixth Avenue, since demolished—may have been one of the buildings that persuaded Andrew Carnegie that a concert hall would be the right fit for the neighborhood. (Photo via Museum of the City of New York.)

9. Carnegie Hall Studios

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881 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 247-7800
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Carnegie Hall kicked out its last artists several years ago in order to convert their live/work spaces above the famed concert hall into additional office and classroom space. One of the last residents, photographer/filmmaker Josef Astor, made the documentary Lost Bohemia about the end of the building's artist housing era.

10. 23-27 West 67th Street

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27 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

The studio building at 27 West 67th Street was the first to marry artists' needs for light and space with the idea of co-op apartments. Sturgis & Simonson designed the building, which was built in 1901-1903 and includes double-height studios, with northern light, attached to living space. As a Landmarks Preservation Commission report explains, no builder would buy into the project's live/work premise, so painter Henry W. Ranger got a group of artists together to invest in the building—guaranteeing each a permanent lease and building shares in exchange. Some of the apartments were rented out to pay for building maintenance.

11. Central Park Studios

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15 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

The success of 27 West 67th Street inspired other similar buildings in the neighborhood, including the Central Park Studios. (Both buildings are now part of the eight-building West 67th Street Artists' Colony Historic District.) Architects Simonson, Pollard, and Steinem brought all their varied experience with studio buildings to bear on this design. Artists associated with the building painted the murals in its lobby. The most recent apartment to sell, nearly a year ago, went for $4.335 million.

12. The Atelier Building

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33 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

This building was also designed by Simonson, Pollard, and Steinam and built in 1903-1905, and it's part of the small artists' colony historic district. The top of the building was designed to resemble a medieval castle gate. The most recent sale, in summer 2012, was for $3.8 million.

13. Vermeer Studios

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114 East 66th Street
New York, NY 10065

Ella Mabel Clark built the Vermeer Studios, at 114 and 116 East 66th Street, for those in the arts, Christopher Gray explains. The project was an outgrowth of Clark's interest in housing reform, and she kept the rents at the buildings—designed by Edouard R. Bossange and Butler & Rodman—low. (A center studio with a skylight asked $900/year in 1915.) A doctor and a chauffeur were among the tenants recorded by the census, but muralist and stage designer Clagget Wilson, sculptor Eleanor Mellon, painter Sheldon Pennoyer, and A. Conger Goodyear, first president of MoMA, lived there, too, at one time or another. The buildings were demolished in 1954, but during its lifespan, it stood out a bit among its neighbors: Gray describes it as "a berserk Flemish-style jack-in-the-box with two heads."

14. Rodin Studios

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200 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Painters John Fry and Lawton S. Parker, along with Fry's wife Georgia Timkey Fry, teamed up 1916 for a studio building named after Auguste Rodin. Celebrated architect Cass Gilbert joined them to design the building, which had retail and office space on the lower floors to fund the building. Other floors had studios, studios with living spaces, and duplexes on the northern side to let in light. At the time, the building's biggest apartments rented for $350/month. These days the rents are considerably higher, with one studio asking $3,500/month in 2011.

15. Westbeth Artists' Housing

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55 Bethune St
New York, NY 10014

Starchitect Richard Meier, before he achieved starchitect-dom, created the West Village's Westbeth housing complex, meant for early-career artists who could hold onto their inexpensive rentals for about five years while growing their careers. The complex is now a landmark, and its residents have ended up having similar staying power. In fact, local politicians recently accused the complex of "stockpiling" apartments rather than allowing those on the waiting list to move in.

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1. Tenth Street Studio Building

51 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10011

Many of the buildings on this list date to the first decade of the twentieth century, but those structures were preceded by the Tenth Street Studio Building, which dates to 1857. Artists including Winslow Homer and Frederic Church had studio spaces there, and the building included a central gallery. (Some of the units were just studio spaces; others had bedrooms as well.) The building was demolished in 1956, and non-artist-oriented apartments now stand on the spot. (Photo courtesy the Museum of the City of New York.)

51 West 10th Street
New York, NY 10011

2. Gainsborough Studios

222 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

To address their needs for light and space, a group of painters and sculptors formed the Gainsborough Corporation in the early 1900s to build a building full of cooperative studios for artists. They purchased 222 Central Park South, then a millionaire's mansion, in 1907, and replaced the mansion with the Gainsborough Studios. The 34 apartments at the front of the building have double-height living rooms. At the moment there's one 2BR in the building for sale.

222 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019

3. Studio Building

44 West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024

The 1907 Studio Building, designed by Herbert Harde and R. Thomas Short, also had double-height studios intended for artists. But regular folk (i.e., lawyers and doctors) also lived there from the beginning. The building received some rave archicritical reviews: a "Brobdingnagian cathedral," one magazine called it; the terra cotta decoration "appears to have been squeezed out of a pastry tube," said an architectural historian. The building has one incredible penthouse on the market now.

44 West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

4. Hotel Des Artistes

1 W 67th St, New York, NY 10023

George Mort Pollard designed this building, which was built in 1917. As at other artists' residents, a number of the apartments include double-height spaces, but not only visual artists lived at the Hotel Des Artistes. Noel Coward and Fannie Hurst, for example, were among the writers in residence. There is one $2 million 1BR on the market in the building now.

1 W 67th St
New York, NY 10023

5. Studio Building

131 East 66th Street, New York, NY 10065

This building—which shares the name the Studio Building with one of the Upper West Siders on this list—was architect Charles Platt's first major city design. (He had previously been known as a country house architect.) Painter Gerald Murphy (a friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald) and baritone Lawrence Tibbett were among the early residents. There's one two-bedroom on the market now in the landmarked building.

131 East 66th Street
New York, NY 10065

6. 140 West 57th Street

140 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

Pollard & Steinam—who designed several other artist-oriented buildings on West 67th Street—were the architects of this structure, which was built in 1907-1908. The front of the building contained seven double-height apartments, and as the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report for the building puts it, "the tall, projecting bay windows set in geometrically-ornamented cast iron frames bring in the north light so prized by artists." 130 West 57th Street was designed by the same architects and was almost identical. (It was also the site of a disorderly conduct complaint over the "absolute riot" of ragtime.)

140 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

7. 80 West 40th Street

80 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018

Painter (and naturalist) Abraham Archibald Anderson tried living in Connecticut so that he would have the space and light in which to work, but he wanted to be in the city—so he decided to buy four lots at 40th Street and Sixth Avenue and build a studio building there. Anderson and his wife occupied the top floor once the building was finished. Other artists took space, and eventually, Liz Claiborne had her first studio there. In the 1980s, the building received a restoration.

80 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018

8. The Rembrandt

152 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

Carnegie Hall Tower now stands where the Rembrandt Studio building went up in 1881. Christopher Gray speculated in one Streetscapes column that the Rembrandt—along with the Sherwood Studio building at 57th Street and Sixth Avenue, since demolished—may have been one of the buildings that persuaded Andrew Carnegie that a concert hall would be the right fit for the neighborhood. (Photo via Museum of the City of New York.)

152 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

9. Carnegie Hall Studios

881 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019

Carnegie Hall kicked out its last artists several years ago in order to convert their live/work spaces above the famed concert hall into additional office and classroom space. One of the last residents, photographer/filmmaker Josef Astor, made the documentary Lost Bohemia about the end of the building's artist housing era.

881 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019

10. 23-27 West 67th Street

27 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023

The studio building at 27 West 67th Street was the first to marry artists' needs for light and space with the idea of co-op apartments. Sturgis & Simonson designed the building, which was built in 1901-1903 and includes double-height studios, with northern light, attached to living space. As a Landmarks Preservation Commission report explains, no builder would buy into the project's live/work premise, so painter Henry W. Ranger got a group of artists together to invest in the building—guaranteeing each a permanent lease and building shares in exchange. Some of the apartments were rented out to pay for building maintenance.

27 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

11. Central Park Studios

15 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023

The success of 27 West 67th Street inspired other similar buildings in the neighborhood, including the Central Park Studios. (Both buildings are now part of the eight-building West 67th Street Artists' Colony Historic District.) Architects Simonson, Pollard, and Steinem brought all their varied experience with studio buildings to bear on this design. Artists associated with the building painted the murals in its lobby. The most recent apartment to sell, nearly a year ago, went for $4.335 million.

15 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

12. The Atelier Building

33 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023

This building was also designed by Simonson, Pollard, and Steinam and built in 1903-1905, and it's part of the small artists' colony historic district. The top of the building was designed to resemble a medieval castle gate. The most recent sale, in summer 2012, was for $3.8 million.

33 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

13. Vermeer Studios

114 East 66th Street, New York, NY 10065

Ella Mabel Clark built the Vermeer Studios, at 114 and 116 East 66th Street, for those in the arts, Christopher Gray explains. The project was an outgrowth of Clark's interest in housing reform, and she kept the rents at the buildings—designed by Edouard R. Bossange and Butler & Rodman—low. (A center studio with a skylight asked $900/year in 1915.) A doctor and a chauffeur were among the tenants recorded by the census, but muralist and stage designer Clagget Wilson, sculptor Eleanor Mellon, painter Sheldon Pennoyer, and A. Conger Goodyear, first president of MoMA, lived there, too, at one time or another. The buildings were demolished in 1954, but during its lifespan, it stood out a bit among its neighbors: Gray describes it as "a berserk Flemish-style jack-in-the-box with two heads."

114 East 66th Street
New York, NY 10065

14. Rodin Studios

200 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

Painters John Fry and Lawton S. Parker, along with Fry's wife Georgia Timkey Fry, teamed up 1916 for a studio building named after Auguste Rodin. Celebrated architect Cass Gilbert joined them to design the building, which had retail and office space on the lower floors to fund the building. Other floors had studios, studios with living spaces, and duplexes on the northern side to let in light. At the time, the building's biggest apartments rented for $350/month. These days the rents are considerably higher, with one studio asking $3,500/month in 2011.

200 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

15. Westbeth Artists' Housing

55 Bethune St, New York, NY 10014

Starchitect Richard Meier, before he achieved starchitect-dom, created the West Village's Westbeth housing complex, meant for early-career artists who could hold onto their inexpensive rentals for about five years while growing their careers. The complex is now a landmark, and its residents have ended up having similar staying power. In fact, local politicians recently accused the complex of "stockpiling" apartments rather than allowing those on the waiting list to move in.

55 Bethune St
New York, NY 10014