By Carter B. Horsley
One of the finest and most exclusive limestone-clad
apartment houses on Fifth Avenue, this small but extremely elegant
building was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the main architects
of Grand Central Terminal.
The 12-story building has only 12 apartments
and was completed in 1917.
The detailing here is extremely fine and the
two-story arched entrance with a head-scroll keystone, lanterns
and sidewalk landscaping, is particularly handsome.
The building's location is sensational as it
overlooks the sailing boat pond in Central Park, but is two blocks
north of the major park entrance at 72nd Street where there is
The building, which has a concierge and doorman,
but no garage, has fabulous views.
The facade is festooned with a stringcourse
with dolphins and shells and large cartouches of birds with spread
wings. The latter may have attracted the building's most celebrated
tenant, Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk that took the building as
its residence in 1993 and according to the December 11, 2004 edition
of The New York Times sired 23 chicks to fledging. It is
one think for "exclusive" co-ops to decline celebrity
singers and actors for ownership, but it is quite another thing
altogether for such a building to evict a red-tailed hawk and
one of Pale Male's celebrity from its 12th floor perch. The article
by Thomas J. Lueck and Jennifer Lee in The Times appeared
on the front page with a three-column headline above the fold
under the headline "No Fighting the Co-Op Board, Even with
Talons." The article, which ran a full half page on the jump,
noted that the building's co-op board removed the bird's nest
December 7 leading to public protests outside the building. The
article quoted Richard Cohen, the board's president who is a real
estate developer and husband of Paula Zahn, a television newscaster,
as maintaining that the eviction was "a last resort"
and that the board members believed the birds would thrive elsewhere
and quickly. Mary Tyler Moore, the actress, who lives in the building
with her husband, Dr. Robert Levine, a cardiologist, and at the
time had her apartment listed for sale for about $18,500,000,
was quoted in the article as saying that the board members "are
not reversible type people," adding "They just don't
want the birds here." In an application to the Fish and Wildlife
Service to remove the nest, the building argued that it had "caused
deterioration of the building's canopy from bird droppings."
Pale Male returned to the building and rebuilt
a nest in the same spot in early 2005.
Although its frontage on the avenue is relatively
narrow, this is a supremely desirable address in this very posh