steel magnate Charles M. Schwab moved into his new, 75-room mansion
designed in French chateau-style by Maurice Hébert on the
block bounded by 73rd and 74th Streets, West End Avenue and Riverside
had formerly been occupied by the New York Orphan Asylum and had
been purchased by financier Jacob Schiff. According to Peter Salwen,
Schiff's wife worried that "would never see her fashionable
friends again if she had to live on the Drive" and reluctantly
Schiff sold the property to Schwab, who was an associate of Andrew
Carnegie's in running United States Steel.
In his book,
"Upper West Side Story, A History And A Guide," (Abbeville
Press, 1989), the cream-colored granite structure had 116-foot-high
pinnacles and was impressive enough to lead Carnegie, who had
recently built his own mansion on Fifth Avenue and 91st Street
that is now the home of the National Museum of Design, to ask
a friend, "Have you seen that place of Charley's...,It makes
mine look like a shack."
died in 1939, Schwab bequeathed his magnificent house set in lush
gardens behind handsome fences to the city for the mayor's residence,
but, Salwen recounts, "a proletarian Mayor LaGuardia indignantly
rejected it" 'What me in that?'" (In 1943, the Mayor
moved into Gracie Mansion in Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East
mansion was torn down in 1948. "One of Manhattan's last free-standing
mansions, and one of the grandest ever constructed in the city,...its
passing [went] largely unnoticed and completely unprotested,"
observed Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman
in their book, "New York 1960, Architecture and Urbanism
Between The Second World War And The Bicentennial," (The
Monacelli Press, 1995).
Schwab edifice was replaced by a 17-story, 654-unit apartment
building, appropriately named Schwab House, in 1950. The redbrick
structure, designed by Sylvan Bien, occupies about 60 percent
of the site with landscaped courtyards providing light and air
for the building's indented form.
1950 it was clear that the Upper West Side was not only declining
as a desirable middle-class area but more seriously was in danger
of slipping into a state of uncontrollable decay, of becoming
a slum," Stern, Mellins and Fishman noted.
of course, stopped deteriorating and now is one of the most desirable
in the city and Schwab House with its prime Riverside Drive location
and proximity to an express subway station and Lincoln Center
is more desirable than ever. The relatively plain building was
converted to a cooperative in 1984.
has an attractive entrance on West End Avenue, roof deck, 24-hour
elevator operators and a health club.