By Carter B. Horsley
This 9-story, beige-brick apartment building
at the top of Sutton Place overlooks the great Queensboro Bridge.
Built in 1954, the building at 40 Sutton Place,
which is also known as 442 East 59th Street, has 74 apartments
and was converted to a condominium in 1981.
It has a polished black granite one-story base
with a canopied entrance. The building has a doorman and discrete
air-conditioners and no roofdeck and no garage.
In a June 12, 1994 article in The New York
Times, Bret Senft wrote that "in 1875, Effingham B. Sutton,
who had shipped prospecting equipment to San Francisco during
the Gold Rush, built brownstones for a residential enclave on
the east side of what was then Avenue A between 57th and 58th
Street." According to an article by Claire Wilson in the
June 15, 2003 edition of The New York Times, Mr. Sutton
had "bought a tract of East River bluff in the late 1870s,
when the area was home to cigar and button factories and a number
of breweries, and began building row houses on what was unglamorously
called Avenue A." Ms. Wilson added that "Before his
arrival, the surrounding area had ben the site of a Baptist immersing
place and 'shot towers,' where bullets wre made."
Mr. Senft's article added that Mr. Sutton's
"residential dream quickly went bust because of the presence
of industry and, by 1909, of the Queensboro Bridge and the New
York Steam Corporation, whose stacks towered over Sutton Place
at 59th Street."
The bridge, which some observers consider the
city's most beautiful and romantic, and one tall smokestack remain.
After decades of having its great vaults used for storage, they
were opened up and cleaned and converted into a large restaurant,
Gustavino's, and a handsome supermarket in the 1990s, making the
area considerably more attractive. It was a very long and difficult
struggle, however, as Harley Baldwin first conceived of his "Bridgemarket"
complex in 1977 when it got approval from the Board of Estimate
but the project remained dormant for a decade when the city's
Public Development Corporation granted the developer an substantial
increase is permissiblespace but community protestors challenged
the increase and it was not until 1994 that the New York State
Court of Appeals found for the developer.
This boxy, mid-rise structure is the least
attractive building on Sutton Place and Sutton Place South, but
it has many good view and for many years a pre-school operated
in the building.
It is overshadowed, of course, by the bridge,
but also by the Sovereign apartment building that rises mid-block
just to the west 47 stories in a very dramatic stepped plan.