985 Fifth Avenue

Between 79th & 80th Streets

985 Fifth Avenue

985 Fifth Avenue is in the middle in this photograph

By Carter B. Horsley

This large, mid-block, rental apartment house has magnificent views and a superb location just to the south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and close to a major entrance to Central Park.

Built in 1968, this 26-story, yellow-brick tower has only 46 apartments.

It was erected by Bernard Spitzer in 1968 and designed by the Office of Michael Schimenti. Ten years later, Mr. Spitzer also developed another high-rise apartment tower on the avenue, No. 800, on the northeast corner at 61st Street. His other major projects include the Corinthian at 38th Street and First Avenue and 200 Central Park South.

985 Fifth Avenue abuts 980 Fifth Avenue

985 Fifth Avenue is just to the north of 980 Fifth Avenue, the dark tower on the right

The tower is almost the same height as another large high-rise apartment house at 980 Fifth Avenue at the northeast corner of 79th Street that replaced an impressive townhouse owned by the Brokaw family and fueled a controversy over the city’s lack at the time of a landmarks preservation law (see The City Review article).

The two towers are quite different architecturally but because they are both set back in plazas and are of similar height they are often "read" as one project. The corner building, however, has a gray facade and no balconies while this one has many balconies and its facade has a strong vertical emphasis from its paired, yellow-brick piers.

This tower, which is one of the very few rental residential properties on Fifth Avenue, hides its air-conditioners behind attractive wire grills, a handsome solution that surprisingly, and sadly, has not been employed more often.

Driveway of 985 Fifth Avenue


While both towers were abrupt intrusions into the stately and palatial elegance of this section of Fifth Avenue they actually complement one another quite well and their separate plazas read as one. There was, of course, no need for plazas facing Central Park, but the city’s zoning has never been perfect. Being setback mitigates somewhat the noise from the considerable traffic at 79th Street, which is a major transverse road through Central Park.

Priscilla Kaber's sculpture, The Castle, at 985 Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue frontage

This building has a doorman and an elevator person as well as a driveway. The sculpture in its plaza is by Priscilla Kabel. Called "The Castle," it had, according to Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman, the authors of the great "New York 1960, "Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial" (The Monacelli Press, 1995), "far more architectural charm than the building that constituted its backdrop."

985 Fifth

Full view

The building has individual storage bins and permits pets. In addition to being very close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the building is convenient to many other cultural institutions and fashionable boutiques.

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