Inside New York's most desirable apartment buildings

Updated 31st October 2017
View gallery
18 Pictures
432 Park Avenue 1
Inside New York's most desirable apartment buildings
Written by Oscar Holland, CNN
When luxury apartments first started appearing in the 1880s, wealthy New Yorkers still preferred the type of Victorian townhouses that lined Central Park.
But a sudden change in taste transformed New York's real estate market, according to a new book exploring the city's unique relationship with luxury apartment buildings.
"Around the turn of the century, the most affluent people in society gravitated away from their Beaux-Arts mansions into equally grand apartment buildings," said Kirk Henckels, a luxury real estate specialist and co-author of "Life at the Top: New York's Most Exceptional Apartment Buildings."
"This really signified a move towards living communally and vertically -- cutting expenses, using shared services and transitioning to a cleaner style. In Manhattan, the construction that went on between 1910 and 1930 is unlike anything we have seen since. There was a massive amount of building across the whole city -- but for the wealthy it was really around Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue."

A rare glimpse

Indeed, these two streets account for more than half of the 15 buildings featured in Henckels' book.
Thanks to floor plans and over 300 photographs, readers get a rare glance into some of exclusive New York addresses -- from the 19th-century grandeur of The Dakota, one of the city's oldest apartment complexes, to the pencil-thin 432 Park Avenue (which became the world's tallest residential building upon its completion in 2015).
But while Henckels admits that his glossy book offers an unashamed dose of "architectural pornography," he hopes to tell a wider story about the city's history. With a glut of new luxury developments appearing on New York's skyline in recent years -- more than we've seen in the 80 years, Henckels argues -- it's a story that's still being written.
"Now, a hundred years after the first boom, we're in another transition," he said. "People are going from Georgian and traditional to contemporary. They're are going away from cooperatives and going to condos. Once again, they're going more vertical and to a cleaner style."
"Life at the Top: New York's Most Exceptional Apartment Buildings," published by Vendome Press, is available now.