By Carter B. Horsley
Erected in 1912, this 13-story building was
converted to a cooperative in 1962. The attractive, light-beige
brick structure has a one-story limestone base and second-story
ornamentation over its canopied entrance. It has 31 apartments.
It was designed by Robert T. Lyons for Bing
& Bing and replaced two smaller apartment houses. Lyons was
the architect also of the apartment buildings at 955, 993 and
1155 Park Avenue.
Bing & Bing was one of the city’s
most important developers of apartment buildings in the first
few decades of the 20th Century.
Leo S. and Alexander M. Bing were "widely
read, cultured, fastidious, and intelligent young lawyers"
who "exuded a quiet confidence and favored a conservative
appearance," according to Tom Shactman, the author of "Skyscraper
Dreams, The Great Real Estate Dynasties of New York," (Little,
Brown and Company, 1991). "Under their three-piece suits
with high collars, the brothers concealed progressive sentiments.
Alexander was much taken with the City and Suburban Homes model
for development. Using their legal knowledge, the Bings formed
a syndicate of investors to buy land along Broadway near intersections
where subway or elevated lines were being constructed, resell
the plots to builders, then provide them with loans for construction.
During the [first World] war, Alexander Bing had been a housing
consultant to two government agencies. He dreamed of following
the path of the limited return City and Suburban Homes Company
and became the spearhead of the City Housing Corporation, which
produced a sprawling complex of one- and two-family homes and
apartments in Sunnyside, Queens. Leo Bing split with Alexander
in this era because he had a different objective: housing for
"‘That is good architecture,’
Leo told [architect Emery] Roth, ‘which people are willing
to pay for. To erect a building, however well it conforms to the
standards of design, that does not produce the maximum of income
is, to that degree, poor architecture.’ Every year, Roth
would design a building or two (or sometimes three) for Bing &
Bing, now Leo’s company, in every district from Greenwich
Village to Washington Heights, from simple dwellings to palatial
hotels and apartment houses," Shactman wrote.
The hotels would include the Dorset on East
54th Street, which will be demolished for an expansion of the
Museum of Modern Art, the Drake on Park Avenue and the Alden on
Central Park West. Leo Bing also employed Philip Birnbaum for
nine years as on-site inspector and Birnbaum would go on to his
own architecture practice in which he became probably the most
prolific designer of high-rise apartment buildings in the city.
This building, which has consistent fenestration
and protruding air-conditioners, is located in a very attractive
section of Park Avenue that is convenient to midtown, many churches
and clubs, fashionable boutiques and restaurants along Madison
Avenue, Central Park and public transportation. The building has
a canopied entrance with a doorman, but no garage, no health club
and no sundeck.