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Mapping Stanford White's Most Beautiful NYC Buildings

The celebrated (and notorious) architect left an enduring legacy in New York City

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Though the term "starchitect" is a recent thing, there have been plenty of famed designers in the past few centuries who would qualify—and Stanford White is the 19th-century architect who is perhaps most deserving of the title. As part of the firm McKim, Mead & White, he was responsible for many of New York City's loveliest structures during the Gilded Age, including a plethora of social clubs, tony residences, and the beloved Washington Square Arch. But his personal life was filled with scandal—particularly his relationships with women, including 16-year-old Evelyn Nesbitt, which led to his murder atop Madison Square Garden on June 25, 1906.

Whatever your feelings on White man are—"a sybarite of debauchery," as he was called after his murder, or one of the greatest artists of his time—there's no denying his influence on the built landscape of New York City. Here, we've collected just some of his most beautiful, influential works. Did we leave your favorite off? Let us know in the comments.

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1. Goelet Building

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900 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

White was commissioned by the socially prominent Goelet family in 1885 to construct the Chicago School style building, which would serve as yet another component of the family’s vast commercial empire. White’s original design for the Goelet Building contained only six stories, incorporating stone, terra cotta, cast iron, and multiple shades of brick. In 1905, the top floor of was shorn off to make way for additional levels, ultimately allowing the structure to rise to its present ten stories. Currently, the Goelet Building is owned by the Justin family, which has made significant renovations to the property since purchasing the building in 1977; it’s still utilized for commercial purposes.

2. Gould Memorial Library

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2155 Dr Martin L King Jr Blvd
Bronx, NY 10453
(718) 289-5174

Supported by a substantial donation from the Gould family, Stanford White designed this gorgeous building in 1897 for what was then New York University’s Bronx Campus (and is now Bronx Community College). Inspired by the Roman Pantheon, the library is dominated by its coffered dome, and the space itself is decorated with wood, bronze, marble, stone and Tiffany glass. Over the last decade, there has been a renewed push to restore the landmarked building to its original splendor. Samuel G. White, Stanford White’s great-grandson, is currently the chair of Save Gould Memorial Library, which is studying the conditions in the 116-year-old building along with the architects Beyer Blinder Belle.

3. Bowery Savings Bank Building

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130 Bowery
New York, NY 10013
(212) 682-7700
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As the Bowery Savings Bank grew in financial stature, it required a new home that was fitting for an organization of its prestige. White was commissioned to create an edifice that would, in the words of the board of directors, “impress the beholder with its dignity and fortress-like strength on account of the neighborhood in which it is to be located.” Constructed in 1895, White’s Bowery Savings Bank not only fulfilled those expectations, but provided New York with one of its grandest interiors. The Bowery entrance features a 100-foot mosaic floored passageway, leading into a grand hall adorned with an amber glass dome, terrazzo flooring, and mighty Corinthian columns. The imposing and ornate structure ceased to operate as a financial institution when it was sold to Stan Greenberg in 2002, who subsequently spent $4 million to rehabilitate the 36,000 square-foot space into Capitale, an upscale banquet hall.

4. Washington Square Arch

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Washington Sq. N
New York, NY 10011

Standing at the northern edge of Washington Square Park, the Arch was originally a temporary structure built in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration. But it proved incredibly popular, leading to the commissioning of a permanent piece the following year. Inspired by Paris’s Arch de Triomphe, White’s design is emblematic of the unbridled optimism of Gilded Age America. Although White incorporated pedestals into his design, it was not until 1916 and 1918 that the two statues of George Washington came to inhabit the northern side of the arch. Prior to 1964, traffic from Fifth Avenue passed under the arch through Washington Square Park.

5. Judson Memorial Church

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55 Washington Sq S
New York, NY 10012
(212) 477-0351
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Baptist preacher Edward Judson envisioned this church as a religious institution centered on social outreach. With financing provided by fellow Baptist John D. Rockefeller, Judson was able to commission White to lead the design of the church. With construction completed in 1893, the exterior of the Judson Memorial Church was designed to emulate the early Renaissance churches of North Italy in an attempt to attract Italian parishioners. And while the exterior is decorative, containing terracotta ornamentation, yellow Roman brick, marble panels, and a campanile, the interior is designed with Baptist modesty in mind. The Judson Memorial Church still functions as a house of worship, while also serving as a public center for the arts.

6. Metropolitan Club

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1 E 60th St
New York, NY 10022

This is but one of many social clubs designed by White. It was founded in 1891 by the financier J.P. Morgan and other members of the nouveau riche, who, despite their great wealth, had difficulty joining the ranks of New York high society. In order to assert their ‘rightful’ status in that upper echelon, Morgan and his fellow rich folks decided to make the Metropolitan Club the most lavish and impressive social club in the city—so of course White was tapped for the project. The building itself is designed in the Renaissance Revival style, an Italian palazzo placed along elegant Fifth Avenue. White described his proposed design in the New York Times in 1892 as “unrivaled in its size,” giving it “an appearance unlike that of any building in New-York.” As a suggestion to the club’s exclusivity, the entrance is placed off of Fifth Avenue within a private courtyard.

7. Players Club

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16 Gramercy Park S
New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-6116
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8. Cable Building

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611 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

Built in 1894, the Cable Building served as the office space for the Metropolitan Traction Company (which leased and operated cable car lines) while also housing the massive steam engines required to power the sprawling cable car network. White’s creation is a nine-story Beaux Arts structure, possessing an intricately detailed copper cornice supported by richly colored terracotta and orange brick. The Cable Building ceased to operate as a transportation hub in 1925, instead serving as a center for light manufacturing related to the garment industry. Nowadays, it's home to offices and a Crate & Barrel.

9. Con Edison IRT Power Plant

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W 59th St
New York, NY 10023

10. Robb House

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23 Park Ave
New York, NY 10016

Just two blocks south of the Charles McKim-designed Morgan Library, White’s Robb House is an superb remnant of high society’s reign over Murray Hill during the 19th century. The private residence was completed in 1891 for James Hampden Robb, a New York state senator and commissioner of the Parks Department. White designed the home in the Italian Renaissance style, with Roman brick and terracotta ornament placed on top of brownstone. After Robb's death, it served as a private club before being converted into a co-op building.

11. The Villard Houses

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455 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 888-7000
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Located between 50th and 51st streets and Madison Avenue, White’s Villard Houses were constructed in 1884. Unlike the ostentatious palaces that came to dominate Fifth Avenue in the 19th century, the exterior of the structure has a rusticated base, a central courtyard, and a series of identical and symmetrical balconies. Henry Villard, the original owner of the property, had a commercial empire which ended with the collapse of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1894. Although Villard lost his fortune, his property remained as private residences until 1970s. The wings were converted for the use of non-profits while the central building is now the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

12. 401 Fifth Avenue

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401 5th Ave
New York, NY 10016

Completed in 1906, the year of White’s murder, the Tiffany & Co. Building is one of the finest commercial structures in Manhattan. Located on 37th Street and Fifth Avenue (the jewelry brand's HQ before it migrated uptown), the structure stands out with its multi-story Corinthian columns divided by a series of horizontal bands. The original facade was later transformed—not for the better—through misguided additions, which applied unsightly black granite on the lowest level of columns. Luckily, the building has undergone substantial renovations since 2003, leading to the reintroduction of marble pilasters at the base of the building and a thorough cleaning of the facade. And, fun fact: The People's Court is filmed there (here's how to get tickets).

13. Madison Square Garden

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Madison Ave & E 26th St
New York, NY 10010

Though this structure no longer exists, it's impossible to write a list about Stanford White's best buildings without including it. While the current Madison Square Garden is recognized as one of the more unsightly buildings of Manhattan, its 1890 predecessor was Stanford White's architectural magnum opus. It was funded by investors that included Andrew Carnegie, the Astor family, and J.P. Morgan, and no expense was spared. The building itself was of the Renaissance Revival style with Moorish influences, notably a minaret-like tower soaring 32 stories. But it's infamous as the spot where White was murdered by Harry Kendall Thaw in 1906, over the former's relationship with the latter's wife, Evelyn Nesbitt. While Madison Square Garden was prestigious, it was never profitable, leading to its demolition in 1925. The site it once stood on is now home to the New York Life Insurance building.

1. Goelet Building

900 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

White was commissioned by the socially prominent Goelet family in 1885 to construct the Chicago School style building, which would serve as yet another component of the family’s vast commercial empire. White’s original design for the Goelet Building contained only six stories, incorporating stone, terra cotta, cast iron, and multiple shades of brick. In 1905, the top floor of was shorn off to make way for additional levels, ultimately allowing the structure to rise to its present ten stories. Currently, the Goelet Building is owned by the Justin family, which has made significant renovations to the property since purchasing the building in 1977; it’s still utilized for commercial purposes.

900 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

2. Gould Memorial Library

2155 Dr Martin L King Jr Blvd, Bronx, NY 10453

Supported by a substantial donation from the Gould family, Stanford White designed this gorgeous building in 1897 for what was then New York University’s Bronx Campus (and is now Bronx Community College). Inspired by the Roman Pantheon, the library is dominated by its coffered dome, and the space itself is decorated with wood, bronze, marble, stone and Tiffany glass. Over the last decade, there has been a renewed push to restore the landmarked building to its original splendor. Samuel G. White, Stanford White’s great-grandson, is currently the chair of Save Gould Memorial Library, which is studying the conditions in the 116-year-old building along with the architects Beyer Blinder Belle.

2155 Dr Martin L King Jr Blvd
Bronx, NY 10453

3. Bowery Savings Bank Building

130 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

As the Bowery Savings Bank grew in financial stature, it required a new home that was fitting for an organization of its prestige. White was commissioned to create an edifice that would, in the words of the board of directors, “impress the beholder with its dignity and fortress-like strength on account of the neighborhood in which it is to be located.” Constructed in 1895, White’s Bowery Savings Bank not only fulfilled those expectations, but provided New York with one of its grandest interiors. The Bowery entrance features a 100-foot mosaic floored passageway, leading into a grand hall adorned with an amber glass dome, terrazzo flooring, and mighty Corinthian columns. The imposing and ornate structure ceased to operate as a financial institution when it was sold to Stan Greenberg in 2002, who subsequently spent $4 million to rehabilitate the 36,000 square-foot space into Capitale, an upscale banquet hall.

130 Bowery
New York, NY 10013

4. Washington Square Arch

Washington Sq. N, New York, NY 10011

Standing at the northern edge of Washington Square Park, the Arch was originally a temporary structure built in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration. But it proved incredibly popular, leading to the commissioning of a permanent piece the following year. Inspired by Paris’s Arch de Triomphe, White’s design is emblematic of the unbridled optimism of Gilded Age America. Although White incorporated pedestals into his design, it was not until 1916 and 1918 that the two statues of George Washington came to inhabit the northern side of the arch. Prior to 1964, traffic from Fifth Avenue passed under the arch through Washington Square Park.

Washington Sq. N
New York, NY 10011

5. Judson Memorial Church

55 Washington Sq S, New York, NY 10012

Baptist preacher Edward Judson envisioned this church as a religious institution centered on social outreach. With financing provided by fellow Baptist John D. Rockefeller, Judson was able to commission White to lead the design of the church. With construction completed in 1893, the exterior of the Judson Memorial Church was designed to emulate the early Renaissance churches of North Italy in an attempt to attract Italian parishioners. And while the exterior is decorative, containing terracotta ornamentation, yellow Roman brick, marble panels, and a campanile, the interior is designed with Baptist modesty in mind. The Judson Memorial Church still functions as a house of worship, while also serving as a public center for the arts.

55 Washington Sq S
New York, NY 10012

6. Metropolitan Club

1 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

This is but one of many social clubs designed by White. It was founded in 1891 by the financier J.P. Morgan and other members of the nouveau riche, who, despite their great wealth, had difficulty joining the ranks of New York high society. In order to assert their ‘rightful’ status in that upper echelon, Morgan and his fellow rich folks decided to make the Metropolitan Club the most lavish and impressive social club in the city—so of course White was tapped for the project. The building itself is designed in the Renaissance Revival style, an Italian palazzo placed along elegant Fifth Avenue. White described his proposed design in the New York Times in 1892 as “unrivaled in its size,” giving it “an appearance unlike that of any building in New-York.” As a suggestion to the club’s exclusivity, the entrance is placed off of Fifth Avenue within a private courtyard.

1 E 60th St
New York, NY 10022

7. Players Club

16 Gramercy Park S, New York, NY 10003
16 Gramercy Park S
New York, NY 10003

8. Cable Building

611 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

Built in 1894, the Cable Building served as the office space for the Metropolitan Traction Company (which leased and operated cable car lines) while also housing the massive steam engines required to power the sprawling cable car network. White’s creation is a nine-story Beaux Arts structure, possessing an intricately detailed copper cornice supported by richly colored terracotta and orange brick. The Cable Building ceased to operate as a transportation hub in 1925, instead serving as a center for light manufacturing related to the garment industry. Nowadays, it's home to offices and a Crate & Barrel.

611 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

9. Con Edison IRT Power Plant

W 59th St, New York, NY 10023
W 59th St
New York, NY 10023

10. Robb House

23 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

Just two blocks south of the Charles McKim-designed Morgan Library, White’s Robb House is an superb remnant of high society’s reign over Murray Hill during the 19th century. The private residence was completed in 1891 for James Hampden Robb, a New York state senator and commissioner of the Parks Department. White designed the home in the Italian Renaissance style, with Roman brick and terracotta ornament placed on top of brownstone. After Robb's death, it served as a private club before being converted into a co-op building.

23 Park Ave
New York, NY 10016

11. The Villard Houses

455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

Located between 50th and 51st streets and Madison Avenue, White’s Villard Houses were constructed in 1884. Unlike the ostentatious palaces that came to dominate Fifth Avenue in the 19th century, the exterior of the structure has a rusticated base, a central courtyard, and a series of identical and symmetrical balconies. Henry Villard, the original owner of the property, had a commercial empire which ended with the collapse of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1894. Although Villard lost his fortune, his property remained as private residences until 1970s. The wings were converted for the use of non-profits while the central building is now the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

455 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022

12. 401 Fifth Avenue

401 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016

Completed in 1906, the year of White’s murder, the Tiffany & Co. Building is one of the finest commercial structures in Manhattan. Located on 37th Street and Fifth Avenue (the jewelry brand's HQ before it migrated uptown), the structure stands out with its multi-story Corinthian columns divided by a series of horizontal bands. The original facade was later transformed—not for the better—through misguided additions, which applied unsightly black granite on the lowest level of columns. Luckily, the building has undergone substantial renovations since 2003, leading to the reintroduction of marble pilasters at the base of the building and a thorough cleaning of the facade. And, fun fact: The People's Court is filmed there (here's how to get tickets).

401 5th Ave
New York, NY 10016

13. Madison Square Garden

Madison Ave & E 26th St, New York, NY 10010

Though this structure no longer exists, it's impossible to write a list about Stanford White's best buildings without including it. While the current Madison Square Garden is recognized as one of the more unsightly buildings of Manhattan, its 1890 predecessor was Stanford White's architectural magnum opus. It was funded by investors that included Andrew Carnegie, the Astor family, and J.P. Morgan, and no expense was spared. The building itself was of the Renaissance Revival style with Moorish influences, notably a minaret-like tower soaring 32 stories. But it's infamous as the spot where White was murdered by Harry Kendall Thaw in 1906, over the former's relationship with the latter's wife, Evelyn Nesbitt. While Madison Square Garden was prestigious, it was never profitable, leading to its demolition in 1925. The site it once stood on is now home to the New York Life Insurance building.

Madison Ave & E 26th St
New York, NY 10010