50 & 54 Morningside Drive
Circa 1905 // ARCHITECT: Schwartz & Gross // BUILDER: Undetermined
Schwartz and Gross who designed these two buildings, were amongst the most prolific of all the architects working in the residential field in NYC during the first half of the 20th Century. Until now, most of the S&G buildings I have posted about are examples of their later work. Here, we travel back 20 years to a pair of notable buildings they designed earlier in their careers, “La Touraine” (50 Morningside Drive) and “Mont Cenis” (54 Morningside Drive) located between 115th and 116th Street.
Schwartz and Gross were responsible for much of the development of Morningside Heights, which was mostly open land until the late 19th Century when Columbia University moved to their present-day location at 116th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. Shortly thereafter, the subway reached this part of upper Manhattan and a huge building boom ensued. This neighborhood was solidly middle class, so, compared to the contemporaneous works of J.E.R. Carpenter on Park Avenue, these apartments are quite modest.
50 & 54 Morningside Drive are not identical twins. Instead, they are two very similar, yet separate cooperatives. Currently (at the time of this post), I’m working with a couple that wants to move back to Morningside Heights where they both attended graduate school. They’re looking to move from the Upper East Side where they have lived for 20+ years. Their current apartment is a 2,000sqf+ post-war where they have raised their children.
My search for them led me to this pair of buildings. Morningside Drive is a quiet drive that runs north/south from 110th Street to 122nd Street, bordered on the east by Morningside Park. The park is built on land that drops away steeply, so Morningside Drive is perched high atop the eastern edge of Morningside Heights. This is just one block east of the Amsterdam Avenue main gate of Columbia University. The University President’s house (really more of a mansion) sits just north of 116th Street on Morningside Drive, across the street from #54. There is a reason McKim Mead & White who designed the campus, and the President’s house, chose this site. It affords some spectacular park views and one can see all the way across the island to the East side. Such is, also, the case with the apartments in these two Edwardian gems, many with floor to ceiling extra wide French Doors with Juliet balconies.
WHAT A BUYER CAN EXPECT TO PAY: A 1,400 square-foot, 3BR in excellent condition with great views will cost about $1.2M