Article: “Row Houses Gone Wild” in Streetscapes | West 71st Street
The New York Times
Originally Published: December 9, 2010
Author: Christopher Gray
For every uniform block of nearly identical row houses, there is a block where things have developed erratically. Typically, this is an older block where some homes may have not withstood the test of time and style. The result is a crazy quilt of architecture, a sampler, if you will, of different styles and owner preferences. The block becomes much more than a place to live and evolves into a time capsule of domestic life and a reflection of the ages the row houses have lived through.
Once the uniformity of a row house block is altered, it allows for the residents to stretch their imaginations and really make their row homes the epitome of their personal style. There was a recent article in The New York Times, “Row Houses Gone Wild,” that discusses such a block. It is surprising, and very exciting to RowHouse Magazine, that author Christopher Gray chose to call these homes “row houses” instead of the more typical “townhouse” or “brownstone,” as is usually done in New York. In the past it has been rather taboo to call a multi-million dollar home a row house so kudos to Mr. Gray for elevating row houses to their rightful place in VIP urban architecture.
Mr. Gray writes about West Seventy-First Street in New York City. He not only comments on the visual differences of the houses but when they deviated from uniformity and the people responsible. In doing so, he not only showcases the architectural evolution of the block but also its colorful history.
A laundry list of interesting things to note about West Seventy-First Street include:
- Architectural styles include Victorian, 1930s Modern, Regency, Italianate, Beaux-Arts and Renaissance Revial.
- Building materials and finishes include brick, brownstone, terra cotta, pale masonry and stucco.
- One house operated as a speakeasy at one time.
- It’s the home of the Dorilton Building, noted as “perhaps the most flamboyant apartment house in New York…” by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s “Guide to New York City Landmarks,” Second Edition, 1998.
- House number 222 has very interesting Chinese characters inscribed in the facade.
- House number 251, designed by Henry Herts, includes statuary of two oxen-headed, winged serpents with intertwined dragon tails.
Below are some photographs, taken by our intrepid row house photographer!