Castles of the Upper West Side: Emery Roth

These essays describes a large leap in history toward the makeup of todays urban culture.  The historical and cultural tides of residential real estate, especially for wealthy people, often parallel those of commercial architecture.  Around the turn of the twentieth century, commercial real estate had something of a revolution; the skyscraper.  This new building type was an improvement many ways.  Technologically and economically, skyscrapers were safer, stronger, and more efficient than any architecture in existence.  Culturally, skyscrapers became new monuments to American success and power.  But as skyscrapers became more pervasive, their respective dominance was democratized; the first skyscrapers’ monolithic characters gave way to the face of the modern city.  Now, what we take for granted as the shape or height of any office building around the world, would have been, just one hundred years ago, considered an earth shattering fete of architecture.  This topic was important to the foundation of our current culture and is widely discussed in history.  However, what is less discussed is the skyscraper’s effect on residential life.  The high rise has shared a dialectical relationship with the commercial skyscraper.  Although it once shared the skyscraper’s glorious leap forward in technology and culture, mimicking height, amenities, beauty, and critical importance, for most of the second half of the twentieth century the high rise’s architectural exhilaration paled in comparison to its commercial counterpart.  (Even the  moniker is less exciting.)  Only now, in the twenty-first century, are men like Frank Gehry, Christian de Portzamparc, and Rafael Viñoly reclaiming the New York City high rise as a medium for sky-scraping expression.  However these men owe the first step in this direction to Emery Roth.

The Beresford Part 1

The Beresford Part 2

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