Historic Districts of Midtown East and West

This is one of the world’s most developed urban real estate sectors. While once boasting numerous renowned landmarks, with continually evolving office- and hotel construction few low-rise buildings escape the wrecker’s ball. The central Midtown corridor (in particular, East of Ninth Avenue), too, lost its residential neighborhoods—in short order—to the ever-increasing commercial-development-boom-and-bust wave encroachments.

First surrounding Madison Square and the Fifth Avenue mansions, between 23rd and 59th Streets, were demolished for, hotels, department stores, and office buildings.

Murray Hill Historic District, bounded by Park and Lexington Avenues, running from 35th to 38th Streets

Murray Hill’s contiguous brownstone rows, town houses and converted carriage house have remained much the same for 150 years, and that is a variety of architectural styles.

Since 1847, the “Murray Hill Restriction” written into every property deed has required property to be of “brick or stone construction,” while banning commercial establishments and providing for carriage houses and churches.

This covenant effectively curtailed building for 100 years.

Park and Lexington Avenues—and Third and Second Avenues, to the east—however, are apartment-house-lined thoroughfares, with more-recent rental or condominium buildings and several long-time cooperatives.

Mrs. Astor’s Fifth Avenue mansion’s last ball, in 1892, included 100-plus Murray Hill neighborhood residents; of course, every guest was on the Social Register.

Her virtual palace was razed for the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and 40-years later that, grand hostelry too, was demolished to make way for the Empire State Building.

In 1906, when Benjamin Altman moved his department store uptown, to 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, from Sixth Avenue and 19th Street, other retail icons of the day, such as W. & J. Sloane, Arnold Constable & Co. and Bergdorf Goodman, followed.

And Manhattan’s premier commercial strip, Fifth Avenue, has been in place for over a century.

As the gaslight era ended, J.P. Morgan completed construction of his mansion, on Madison Avenue, between 36th to 37th Street, which was a family occupied until 1943.

Murray Hill Historic District Map || Info

Sniffen Court Historic District, on 36th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenue

Created by John Sniffen, from four, 25×100 standard city lots, the ten Romanesque-style carriage houses, which comprise this narrow, blind alley, are perhaps the most picturesque livery mews in Manhattan.

As carriage-house usage became obsolete, these multi-color brick stables and livery houses were converted to residential usage, with the exception of two commercial-usage portions.

Its signature Greek horseman sculptured plaques, on the south wall, are the work of a resident artist. Sniffen Court Map || Info

Tudor City Historic District, spanning 40th and 43rd Streets and bounded by Second and First Avenues

In 1920, Fred French, a prominent residential-real-estate builder, amassed a run-down tenement-apartment-house and boarding-house district.

Worse, it was bordered on the east, below the bluff, by waterfront warehouses, breweries, slaughterhouses—causing filth and an unbearable stench—a gas company, and railroad freight yards.

In this unlikely spot, Mr. French, and his architect Douglas Ives, envisioned a middle-class, “suburban refuge” in Midtown Manhattan.

In 1925, construction began on 12 apartment houses, containing 3000 housing units and 600 hotel rooms, entirely influenced by Tudor-style architecture elements, and thus its name.

Manhattan’s then-largest real-estate project was completed in 1928, with each building surrounding its two gardens. Twenty-years later, the waterfront buildings below became United Nations Plaza—not as the waterfront recreation area planned by the developer,

However, Tudor City, a unique urban community then, remains exactly as it is now. Tudor City Map || Info

Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District, in the Second-to-Third-Avenues mid-block, along 48th Street on (its north side) and 49th Street (on the south side)

Small though it may be—comprising merely 20 row houses, 227-245 East 48th and 226-246 East 49th Street—this enclave was designed having one contiguous communal backyard, whose garden sets it apart from all but two other enclaves.

Built in 1923, (entirely of the same elements: stucco, brick, ceramic tile, and wood), in the Italianate-style, and designed by Clarence Dean, Turtle Bay Gardens has been home to numerous Manhattan literati, theater luminaries, and motion picture celebrities, such as Dorothy Thompson, Maxwell Perkins, Katherine Hepburn, Tyrone Power, Mary Martin, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin.

Turtle Bay Gardens Map || Info

Additional National Register Historic Districts

Nearby Midtown East

Residences at 5-15 West 54th Street

Period of Significance: 1875-1899

Plaza Hotel

Period of Significance: 1900-1924

Fifth Avenue, at Fifty-Ninth Street

Sutton Place Historic District

Period of Significance: 1925-1949, 1900-1924

1–21 Sutton Place, and 4-16 Sutton Square