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Riverside Drive with Normandie at 86th Street at center

Riverside Drive with Normandie, tall building with two towers at 86th Street, center

By Carter B. Horsley

Just one block west of West End Avenue is the coveted Riverside Drive. Facing the Hudson River with spectacular views of sunsets and passing sailboats, Riverside Drive apartments have been sought after for over a century. Even though the building inventory here is not quite as impressive as many of the best limestone palazzos on Fifth Avenue or Central Park West, the views of Riverside Park, the Hudson River and the New Jersey skyline are fabulous and they are the main reason why people want to live in this area. The neighborhood is relatively quiet in comparison with the rest of the city. Its park, which stretches from low 60s to 120th Street gives a nice shelter from the West Side Highway traffic.

Although there are many pockets of elegance throughout the city, only the Upper West Side has two adjacent avenues of great and almost uninterrupted residential distinction: Riverside Drive and West End Avenue.

Moreover, Riverside Drive is relatively quiet in comparison with the often raucous parades that routinely ply their way up Fifth Avenue in pleasant weather and both Riverside Drive and West End Avenue have far less traffic than Fifth and Park Avenues.

Another important consideration is that Riverside Drive is the only major residential avenue in uptown Manhattan that is winding, which adds considerable visual interest.

Such a scorecard leads one to wonder why Riverside Drive and West End Avenue did not become more desirable and closer in valuations to their Upper East Side counterparts.

Part of the answer, of course, is that many of the Fifth and Park Avenue buildings were a bit more upscale in their layouts and finishings since the East Side had been established earlier as a luxury apartment enclave. Another reason is that Madison Avenue is considerably more fashionable than Broadway and another is that the Midtown business district is a bit closer.

Perhaps more importantly, the Depression interrupted the phenomenal development of the Upper West Side before all of Broadway could be redeveloped and, although the Columbus Avenue Elevated was taken down just before World War II, an event that might have led to the redevelopment of the tenement blocks along the avenue, the demographics of the Upper West Side changed dramatically after the war. A change in city regulations, initiated in anticipation of an influx of people coming to the World's Fair in 1939 and 1940, encouraged the proliferation of "Single-Room Occupancy" buildings that soon witnessed the widespread conversion of many brownstones and townhouses as well as apartment buildings to rooming houses that were quickly filled by many new Hispanic immigrants. The decline of the Upper West Side was quite swift and it was the setting for the famous musical, "West Side Story," about street gangs in the mid-1950's at which time several very large urban renewal plans for the area were initiated.

In the early 1960's, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts began to be completed as part of one of the larger urban renewal plans, but its impact on the surrounding areas was relatively slow to take effect. By the late 1990's, however, the Lincoln Center district had finally begun to come into its own, so much so, in fact, that it had become the city's most vibrant neighborhood.

In late 1998 two other major projects were begun that would greatly enhance the desirability of the Upper West Side: after a 14-year controversy, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was selecting a developer for a major mixed-use redevelopment of the New York Coliseum site at Columbus Circle, the midtown gateway to the Upper West Side; and Donald Trump was in construction on the first, northern section of his vast Riverside South project that would eventually extend Riverside Park and Riverside Drive southward to 60th Street from 72nd Street.

Helmut Jahn

Helmut Jahn plan for world's tallest building on Riverside Drive

"Trump City" as the project was known initially had originally been designed by Helmut Jahn, the flamboyant, high-tech architect from Chicago, to include the world's tallest building, but, given the Upper West Side community's strong reaction to earlier plans to redevelop the Coliseum with a very tall building that would have cast some shadows on Central Park, Trump changed his plan and his architect. His new architect, Alexander Cooper, who had written many of the guidelines for the development of Battery Park City and the redevelopment of Times Square, came out with a design that was modeled in large part of the famous multi-towered apartment buildings of Central Park West and the serpentine building lines of Riverside Drive to the north.

In 1962, the New York Central railroad proposed to build with Local 1 of the Amalgamated Lithographers Union Litho City, a 12,000-unit development but the very ambitious plan for a platform above Penn-Central's train yards that stretched along the Hudson River from Sixtieth to Seventieth Street was not realized.

In their great book, "New York 1960, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Second World War and The Bicentennial," Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman discussed this major, but unbuilt project:

"Litho City promised to make Lincoln Towers look like a toy town.  Edward Swayduck, the union's local president,  asked Peter  Blake, the managing editor of Architectural  Forum, to recommend an architect...and he suggested Le Corbusier.  Swaybuck and several associates went to Paris...but Le Corbusier would not meet with them....Ultimately the job went to the firm of Kelly & Gruzen....[whose] design consisted of nine apartment towers ranging in height from forty-one to forty-nine stories, placed amid landscaped grounds; enclosed parking facilities were located beneath.  Schools - including the United World Center, an international educational facility serving 1,000 students as well as foreign diplomats - a twenty-story motel, shops, a marina, a luxury liner pier and a waterfront park were to complete the middle-income residential development, which was intended to accommodate 25,000 people.  Though Brobdingnagian in scale, the scheme did show some degree of respect for the city's characteristic urbanism, calling for an extension of the street grid....The project died in 1966 when union leaders claimed that Penn Central had impeded progress and railroad officials countered charged that the union had never delivered the requisite performance bond."

Litho City postcard

Postcard view of Litho City from the northwest

The Litho City plan, however, was exceeding handsome with seven tall towers forming a phalanx of Le Corbusier-style skyscraper with punched facades over a low-rise base with mixed-height stories and a large park on the river.

In their great book, "New York 2000, Architecture and Urbanism Between the Bicentennial and the Millennium," Robert A. M. Stern, David Fishman and JacobTilove, continued the agonized history of the site:

"In 1969, the New York Educational Construction Fund proposed that the site be developed with athletic fields for West Side high schools, as well as 6,000 to 12,000 apartments, the profits from which would pay for the parkland.

"In 1974-75 Donald Trump, then a fledgling developer, released his plans for the site, calling for 12,400 apartments, and in 1976, echoing a proposal of Robert Moses, Trump called for the rerouting of the elevated section of the West Side (Miller) Highway that bisected the length of the site to permit the southward extension of Riverside Park.  Trump's plan faltered in the sluggish economy of the late 1970s.  But in January 1981, a new developer came onto the scene, Lincoln West Associates, a joint venture between an Argentine firm, Macri Associates, and a local operation, Hirschfeld Realty.  The plan...proposed a mixed-use project to be realized over a ten-year period.  It was to include 4,850 apartments in towers and mid-rise buildings, 500,000 square feet of retail space, one million square feet of office space, a 500-room hotel, parking for 3,700 cars, and twenty-eight acres of open space, twenty-two of which would be in the form of a waterfront park and promenade....The plan, developed by Gruzen & Partners and Rafael Vinoly, a Uruguayan-born, Argentine-educated architect new to New York, would not only have rehabilitated the West Side Highway as it traversed the site, but also introduced a new north-south boulevard tranversing the site....Lincoln West was approved by the City Planning Commission and the Board of Estimate in 1982, although the number of apartments was reduced to 4,300, with 5 percent of these set aside for low- and moderate-income households....Although Gruzen & Partners and Vinoly had overall control of the project, the eight thirty-three to thirty-nine-story towers were to be designed by different architects, including Gruzen and Vinoly, as well as Cesar Pelli, Edward Larrabee Barnes, Kohn Pederson Fox, I. M. Pei & Partners, Mitchell/Giurgola, and Richard Meier....

"Lincoln West did not go forward, doomed to failure because it was economically impractical, promising far more than any single private developer could afford....Lincoln West was foreclosed by its bankers, who succeeded in selling the site to Donald Trump at three times the price Macri had paid for it, reflecting the rising ride of New York's real estate market and the fact that the land came with a set of development approvals establishing an acceptable density.  Trump name Helmut Jahn...was his architect....In December 1985, Trump revealed his and Jahn's plan for what he was calling Television City.  This plan called for the construction of the world's tallest building, a 150-story, 1,670-foot-high, three-armed, telescoping tower to be located on the axis of Sixth-sixth Street....Three seventy-six story apartment towers were to be built close to the water at Sixty-ninth and Seventy-second Streets and three more, nearer to West End Avenue, would rise in an echelon betweem Sixty-first and Sixty-fourth Streets.  Additionally, a sixty-five-story office tower would be located between Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth Streets facing West End Avenue, to the west of which they also proposed to build a fifteen-story television production center that would define the southern end of the site....All in all, 18.5 million square feet of space was to be constructed, yielding 8,000 residential units, 3.6 million square feet of television and motion picture studios, 8,500 parking spaces, 1.7 million square feet of retail space, and forty acres of park and open space.  It was estimated that 20,000 people would live at Television City and that 40,000 would work there.

"...By  mid-summer 1986, West  Side neighbors  had banded together to form Westpride,  an  organization  dedicated to opposing the project but also concerned with other issues in the community.  Faced with this well-financed  group,  Trump added Alexander Cooper to his team, replacing Jahn as master planner....Trump did pack  off  Jahn's grand plan.  He also backed off gradually from Jahn's architecture, soon agreeing to parcel out the various projected buildings to different  architects....

"By mid-August 1986, a new plan began to take shape that called for the relocation of the world's tallest building to a site at Fifty-ninth street, which would better suit NBC, a likely tenant.  It also provided for a 1.3-million-square-foot, three-level shopping mall to include a 200,000-square-foot branch of Bloomingdale's department store, half the size of the main store on Third Avenue....Cooper's plan, released in October 1986, was not the breakthrough many had hoped for....Studies revealed that morning shadows from the superscaled tower would reach...Park Avenue in West New York, New Jersey, and that those generated in the late afternoon would extend across the intersection of Eighty-sixth Street and Columbus Avenue.....In February 1988 Trump renamed the project Trump City....He also released a new version of the plan with buildings as tall as before but with two thirty-two-story towers replacing the television studios. More parking spaces for cars, six and a half acres more parkland, and 760 low-cost apartments for the elderly were added to help garner public support for the project....

"As of 1990, Cooper's plan called for eleven residential buildings of between forty-fve to fifty-seven stories tall providing 7,600 apartment units.  Also included was 1.5 million square feet of retail space, 3.7 million square feet of office space, a 750-room luxury hotel, and parking for 7,346 cars.  Unlike the Jahn plan, which elevated the public space sixty or seventy feet above grade, Cooper's plan put it at grade level of the upland streets as well as at the level of the river....In June 1990, the Penn Yards Task Force of the New York City chapter of the American Institute of Architects came out against the project, criticizing its density, which it claimed was twice that approved for the site in 1982.  The task force, chaired by Paul Willen, objected to the wall-like character of the shopping mall and garage, which would rise 120 feet above the waterfront park....The A.I.A. group also found fault with the "world's tallest building....A few weeks after the publication of the A.I.A. task force's report, a counterposal  was offered by three leading civic organizations, the Parks Council, the Municipal Arts Society and the Regional Plan Association.  The plan was developed by the chair of the task force, Paul Willen...who...proposed the relocation of the West Side Highway to a new location further east....By early 1991, rumors of a compromise between Trump and the six major civic organizations opposing the project..., began to appear.  The civic groups, headed by Richard A. Kahan, former president of the Battery Park City Authority, advocated a version of Willen's plan....The new plan would virtually halve the square footage of the Cooper plan...."

The City Council approved a plan for Riverside South in 1992 and the next year Trump named Philip Johnson and Costas Kondylis as the architects of the first four towers with some 1,700 apartments for the northern part of the site.  In 1997, Trump made a deal with a group of investors from Hong Kong to get the project started.

Pier D

The elevated highway near remains of Pier D on the Hudson River

The authors of "New York 2000" noted that "Despite the disruptive presence of the elevated highway, there was also praise for the seven completed acres of Thomas Balsey's planned twenty-one-acre waterfront park, the highlight of which was the 750-foot-long Pier I (2001) near Seventieth Street....David Dunlap was impressed with the fifty-foot-wide pier, which jutted into the river at a 55-degree angle, providing 'an entirely new way to see the towering palisade skylines of New York and New Jersey and the broad waterway between them, liberated from the shoreline....'  Dunlap went so far as to note that the elevated highway 'undulates like a ribbon, fused almost seamlessly to the roller-coaster outline of Pier D to the south, which was twisted by fire into a polymorphous contortion worthy of Frank Gehry.  Even the towers of Trump Place momentarily take on Venetian magic, glimpsed as sensuous, rippled reflections in the wake of a passing ship.'"


The name Riverside South was conceived by a group of civic organizations in 1989 who were rallying against Donald Trump’s grandiose proposal. Shortly after the Riverside South plan was approved in 1992, Trump faced bankruptcy and sold the site to a group of Hong Kong investors. Like many ventures bearing the Trump name, the developer would remain as the public face of the project and its first buildings would be proudly emblazoned with 'Trump Place' (in gold, of course). The approved plans, negotiated with the community, recommended that the building designs and massings evoke the Central Park West skyline - ultimately giving Trump’s buildings a contrived and stage set appearance.  In 2019, some of the buildings decided to drop the name "Trump" from the buildings, a reflection of his popularity as President of the United States at the time.

Riverside South dramatically altered the area's skyline as seen from the Hudson River, blocking out many views of the sprawling Lincoln Towers complex, the major residential component of the large Lincoln Square urban renewal project. As such, moreover, it will bring a new focus to Riverside Drive and Riverside Park as well as West End Avenue.

Riverside South

Riverside South

While many will undoubtedly be drawn to the new construction, it is likely that many will also discover the merits of the smaller, pre-war buildings to the north on Riverside Drive and West End Avenue, especially since those will be much closer to Broadway and its transportation and retail activity whereas Riverside South will be separated from Lincoln Center by numerous large housing projects.

Riverside South, of course, took many years to complete and the development of the Riverside Park extension has not been resolved because the Federal Government went ahead with an expensive repair of the elevated West Side Highway that runs between the new Trump Buildings and the Hudson River and which many community planners had hoped will be depressed or tunneled beneath a landscaped park.

Riverside Park was the creation of Frederick Law Olmsted, who started planning it in 1873. The park had been proposed by William R. Martin in 1865 and Riverside Drive was planned in 1870. Olmsted merged plans for both and completed the design in 1888, although the park was not finished until 1910. Olmsted had been the designer with Calvert Vaux of Central Park and his design of Riverside Park was naturalistic and picturesque and another great success. In 1937, Robert Moses's West Side Improvement Plan added 132 acres of parkland to Riverside Park by putting the Henry Hudson Parkway and landfill and covering over the freight train tracks. The expanded park was designed by Clifton Lloyd who also designed the wide, straight walkway in the park and the paths and playgrounds along the river.

The initial development consisted of very attractive single-family homes. The first two buildings, Nos. 1 and 3 Riverside Drive, in fact, the Frederick C. Prentiss and John S. Sutphen Jr. residences, originally, both designed by C.P.H. Gilbert, give some indication of the high quality of such homes as do several designed and developed in the 1890's by Clarence F. True at Nos. 40-46, 74-77 and 105-107.

The most magnificent home, however, has been lost and had belonged to Charles M. Schwab, a partner of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, whose Fifth Avenue mansion between 90th and 91st Street, is now the National Museum of Design. Carnegie is said to have remarked that Schwab's house made his own seem "like a shack." The property was formerly the site of the New York Orphan Asylum and had been purchased by Jacob Schiff, the financier, but he sold it to Schwab when he could not convince his wife to move from the East Side, according to Peter Salwen, the author of "Upper West Side Story, A History and Guide," (Abbeville Press, 1989).

In their book, "The A.I.A. Guide to New York City, Third Edition," (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), Elliot Willensky and Norval White said that the Schwab House was "A rare Gallic composition of pinnacles, spires, chimneys, and steeply sloping roofs" and that "Consciously seeking to bring the joys of the French Chateaux to the banks of the Hudson, architect Maurice Hebert adapted the facades of three - Blois, Chenonceaux and Azay-le-Rideau - to the "needs" of Schwab. The full-block mansion, which had extensive gardens, was built in 1906. Schwab died in 1939 and the mansion was demolished in 1948 after Mayor LaGuardia turned it down as a gift to the city as a Mayor's Residence and the site was redeveloped with a massive, red-brick apartment house, known as Schwab House.

Chatsworth entrance

Chatsworth entrance

One of the greatest and most prominent apartment developments is directly across from the start of Riverside Drive. It is the Chatsworth, whose addresses are 340 and 344 West 72nd Street and 351 West 71st Street, all with very attractive limestone decoration. The Chatsworth, designed by John E. Sharsmith and completed in 1904, originally had a conservatory, a cafe, a rooftop sun parlor, a barbershop, a beauty salon and electric bus service to Central Park. One of its residents was Irving Berlin, the songwriter.

The Clarendon at 137 Riverside Drive

The Clarendon at 137 Riverside Drive

The Clarendon at 137 Riverside Drive at 86th Street was for many years the home of William Randolph Hearst who occupied a 30-room triplex at the top of this 1903 building designed by Charles Birge. Hearst, the fabled publisher and even more legendary art collector, wanted to expand within the building but when the owner declined to ask other tenants to vacate in 1913 he bought the building and forced them out. He sold the building in 1938.

Normany from the northwest

The Normandy from the northwest with ermerging Central Park South skyline, May 26, 2018

One of the most desirable Riverside Drive apartment buildings is the twin-towered, Art Moderne-style Normandy at 140 Riverside Drive, completed in 1939 and designed by Emery Roth, who also designed the great San Remo and Beresford apartment buildings on Central Park West.

Some of the buildings on the drive have curved facades such as 160, designed by Gaetan Ajello and completed in 1922, which has a convex frontage, and 171-177, designed by J. E. R. Carpenter, who was the architect of many of the most luxurious Upper East Side apartment buildings. 171-177, which was completed in 1926, has a concave frontage on the drive.

At 346 West 89th Street at Riverside Drive, Isaac L. Rice, a lawyer and chess expert, erected a house in 1901 for his wife, Julia, a physician who was the founder of an organization called the Society for the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise that helped create "quiet zones" around hospitals. The mansion, designed by Herts & Tallant, was bought in 1908 by Samuel Schinasi, a partner in a manufacturing company and the next year his brother, Morris, commissioned his own mansion further north on the drive at 107th Street. The Rice mansion, once known as Villa Julia, is now the Yeshiva Ketana of Manhattan.

Salors and Soldiers Monument

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument at 89th Street

The park has many statues and monuments including the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument to those lost in the Civil War at 89th Street. Designed by Stoughton & Stoughton and Paul E. M. Duboy, it was modeled on the choragic monument of Lysicrates in Athens. A few blocks north at 93rd Street is the Joan of Art Statue by Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington.

Detail of facade of Cliff Building at 96th Street

Detail of Cliff Building at 96th Street

One of the most interesting buildings is the Cliff Dwellers' Apartments on the northwest corner of 96th Street at 243 Riverside Drive, a slender building completed in 1914 and designed by Herman Lee Meader with representations of buffalo, snakes and mountain lions as well as Mayan motifs.

In the early days of the nation, many of the city's most distinguished families had estates overlooking the Hudson River. Henry Brockholst Livingston, for example, had his estate, Oak Villa, on a bluff at what today is Riverside Drive and 91st Street on part of what had once been the De Lancey estate. Livingston was a lawyer and became a member of the U. S. Supreme Court. This area was then known as Bloomingdale and Oak Villa was in a section known as Striker's Bay. Not far away from Oak Villa, Valentine Mott, a noted surgeon, lived in a large colonnaded house at what is now 93rd Street.

For a brief while in the 1890's, it appeared that Riverside Drive and West End Avenue would be lined with impressive single-family residences. "Rumors abounded that the city's aristocrats would soon descend on the area, and a few upper-crust families - the Altmans, Cuttings, Schiffs - went so far as to actually buy land....but the appearance of the first apartment house, at 83rd Street, in 1895, was the writing on the wall. In an amazingly short time, Riverside Avenue - or Riverside Drive, as it became in 1908, turned into a street of apartment houses," Salwen wrote.

This area has a rich artistic history. George and Ira Gershwin had adjoining penthouses at 33 Riverside Drive. Painter Marc Chagall lived for a while at 42 Riverside Drive and Edgar Allen Poe enjoyed the river vistas from an area known as Mount Tom in Riverside Park near 83rd Street. Jazz great Miles Davis lived at 312 West 78th Street and Mae West lived at 266 West End Avenue.

In 1989, a major new apartment house, the first in more than three decades, opened on Riverside Drive at No. 222 on the northeast corner at 94th Street. Designed by Fox & Fowle, it is one of the most attractive on the drive with Norman brick, a limestone base, terraces and an attractive canopy.

The Upper West Side has a more attractive architectural ambiance than the Upper East Side whose side streets east of Lexington Avenue still have many tenement buildings.  Although it has lost many of its better buildings such as the Century Theater and many more fell into neglect in the post-war period, it has rebounded nicely.

Original Waterline Square plan

Original Waterline Square model with five towers

 Waterline Square model

Waterline Square model from the river

Trump sold off the southern part of his site to Extell Development that planned five towers for the site and it subsequently sold the eastern portion of the site to General Investment and Development Companies  (GID), which is based in Boston, and Henley Holding  Company, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Development Authority.  It renamed its portion of the site Waterline Square and planned three towers.  The southwest tower was designed by Richard Meier.  The northwest tower was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox.  The southeast tower was designed by Rafael Vinoly, the architect of the shear, 1,396-foot-wall residential condominium tower at 432 Park Avenue that was the tallest in the Western Hemisphere when it was erected in 2015.

Waterline Square is the most modern and exciting section of the riverfront boulevard along the Hudson River between 59th Street and the George Washington Bridge.  It is one block above one of the city's most exciting modern buildings, Via 57, designed by Bjarke Ingalls at the western end of 57th Street in Midtown.

The Vinoly tower is the shortest of the group at 34 stories and is known as Three Waterline Square.

3 Waterline Square 2019

3 Waterline Square by Vinoly 2019

It is one of three towers on trapezoidal sites at the five-acre Waterline Square with 167 rental units and 47 condo units with each type having its own entrance,  Interiors by Groves & Co.

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects have designed the center, 2.6-acre park that will connect to the Riverside Park South esplanade.

The most attractive of the three rather ungainly and completely dissimillar Waterline Square towers, this one, designed by Rafael Vinoly, has a “netted” façade that seems to “burst” with uneven banding containing its bulging form in complete contrast to the rigid grid façade of his much taller and very famous tower at 432 Park Avenue.

In a February 14, 2017 “market insight” article on the project at CityRealty.com, Ondel Hylton  noted that “the drunkenly pinstriped building will rise 34 stories and hold 244 units – its bottom flared outward and its top sloping inward to create a glass-enclosed sky room, shattered by a cobweb of structural elements.”

Its exterior piers rise with some slight and visually awkward shifts, but they do not cross others as they do dramatically and elegantly at the top of the roof.
The building’s lobby is partially angled and its “seams” at the angles have thin illuminated strips.

The “social hub” has a spiral staircase and an elevated walkway beneath a very dizzying ceiling of undulating “ribs.”

This and the other two Waterline Square towers follow the general massing outline in the master plan for the site by Christian Portzamparc for Extell Development, who designed One57, the first SuperTall on Billionaries’ Row at 157 West 57th Street across from Carnegie Hall for Extell.

The complex has doormen and concierges and a three-level, underground, 90,000-square-foot, amenities facility designed by David Rockwell including an indoor tennis court, a squash court, a rock climbing wall, a half-pipe skate park, a golf simulator, an indoor soccer field, a 25-meter, 3-lane lap pool, a children’s pool, a two-lane bowling alley, a gardening studio, recording studio, a cards parlor, a games lounge, a screening room, and pilates, boxing, and yoga studios.  There is also a washing station for pets, a training station for pets

The location of Waterline Square is part of a much larger site that has a very complicated history.

Waterline Square is the final phase of the Riverside South plan created by Donald Trump to redevelop a 77-acre freight rail-yard once owned by the Penn Central Railroad facing the Hudson River between 59th and 72nd streets after a plan to build a 12,000-unit Litho City was not realized by the railroad and Local 1 of the Amalgamated Lithographers Union.

In their great book, “New York 1960, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Second World War and the Bicentennial,” Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman provided the following commentary:

“Edward Swayduck, the union’s local president, asked Peter Blake, the managing editor of Architectural Forum, to recommend and architect for the immense project, and without hesitation he recommended Le Corbusier.  Swayduck and several associates went to Paris to meet with the architect, but Le Corbusier would not see them.  Blake would later write that “a rather wonderful opportunity was missed,” explaining that “although Corbu’s Litho City might not have met the standards newly established by Jane Jacobs, it might have been a superb prototype – if only one to against which to rebel”  Ultimately the job went to the firm of Kelly & Gruzen; the project designers were Jordan Gruzen, Peter Samton and the Corbusier-influenced Mario Romanach….Kelly & Gruzen’s design consisted by nine apartment towers ranging in height from forty-one to forty-nine stories, placed amid landscaped grounds; enclosed parking facilities were located beneath.  Schools, including the proposed United World Center, an international educational facility serving 1,000 students as well as foreign diplomats – a twenty-story motel, shops, a marina, a luxury liner  pier and a waterfront park were to complete the middle-income residential development, which was intended to accommodate 25,000 people….The project died in 1966 when union leaders claimed that Penn-Central had impeded progress and railroad officials countercharged that the union had not delivered the requisite performance bond….In 1974, the fledging developed Donald Trump announced his intention to erect a massive housing development on the former Litho City site….Two years later, with no construction begun, Trump called for the rerouting of the West Side Highway to the east of the Litho City site and the extension of Riverside Park south from Seventy-Second to Fifty-Ninth Street….Neither that proposal nor Trump’s general plans for the site progressed.”

The Kelly & Gruzen plan was sensational with seven tall slab towers perpendicular to the river with very handsome façades with varying balcony heights forming a formidable phalanx of very impressive Corbu-style towers rising from a four-story, stepped and very long bank of townhouses.

Mr. Trump acquired the site in 1974 and then sold it to Jacopo Finkelstein, an Argentinian developer who hoped to building a 22-building plan designed by Rafael Vinoly.  In 1985, Mr. Trump and Abe Hirschfeld repurchased the site for $100 million.

In 1986 Trump proposed a 14.5-million-square-foot development named Television City. The plan designed by Chicago-based Helmut Jahn would have new studios for NBC, 7,600 apartments in 60- and 70-story towers, a regional shopping mall, a 40-acre park, and as its centerpiece: a 150-story, three-pronged tower that would be the tallest in the world.

The name Riverside South was conceived by a group of civic organizations in 1989 who were rallying against Donald Trump’s proposal. Shortly after the Riverside South plan was approved in 1992, Trump faced bankruptcy and sold the site to a group of Hong Kong investors. Like many ventures bearing the Trump name, the developer would remain as the public face of the project and its first buildings would be proudly emblazoned with 'Trump Place' (in gold, of course). The approved plans, negotiated with the community, recommended that the building designs and massings evoke the twin-towered skyline of Central Park West skyline.
The Trump towers comprised three rental buildings, at 140, 160 and 180 Riverside Boulevard, and three condo towers, at 140, 220, and 240 Riverside Boulevard (The Heritage).

In 2009, the Hong Kong investors sold the land to Gary Barnett’s Extell Development and the Carlyle Group for $1.76 billion, prompting Trump to file suit against his Hong Kong partners for allegedly underselling the site.

The three rentals were later sold to Equity Residential, and recently, after the successful petition of residents, had the Trump name was removed.

Extell Development would go on to build the Avery at 100 Riverside Boulevard, the Rushmore at 80 Riverside Boulevard, the Aldyn at 60 Riverside Boulevard and One Riverside Park at 50 Riverside Boulevard (the “poor door” building).

The southern 8-acre parking lot, bound by 59th and 61st Street, West End Avenue and the river, was reserved for 1.8 million square feet of commercial development; first to be anchored by NBC television studios and then Columbia University.

In 2009, Extell sought to rezone the superblock to dramatically increase its residential potential. Dubbed Riverside Center, drawings had a crystalline cluster of 5 towers sculpted by One57-designer Christian de Portzamparc. The plan was to include 2,500 apartments (20% affordable), a 250-room hotel, 104,000 square feet of office space, and a kindergarten-through-eighth grade school. The City Planning Commission and City Council gave the green light to rezoning in 2010, praising both its design and the embedded affordable housing units.

After successfully rezoning the site, Extell sold off all of Riverside Center’s parcels to various developers.

The first building opened last year at the northeast corner of the block at 21 West End Avenue. Developed by the Dermot Company and the Carlyle Group, the building has a pre-K through 8th grade school and 616 rental apartments.

Next door, at the southeast corner of the superblock a shimmering condo tower One West End is being developed by Elad and Silverstein Properties.  The building is designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli with Jeffrey Beers as the interior designer. The 42-story building has 246 condos.

Extell sold the remainder of the Riverside Center superblock to Boston-based GID for $676 million. The towers will encircle a public park designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects which will connect to the Riverside Park South esplanade on the Hudson River.

The towers at Waterline Square are quite different and almost deconstructivist in contrast with the rigid rectilinearity and glitz of the rest of the Trump/Extell/Dermot-Carlyle and Elad-Silverstein towers.

The three towers will have about 1,100 condo and rental units and are designed by different architects.

1 Waterfline Square by Meier 2019

1 Waterline Square by Meier 2019

Richard Meier & Partners has designed One Watertower Place, a 36-story tower with 288 units at the southwest corner of 59th Street and the to-be-extended Riverside Boulevard.

2 Waterline Square by KPF 2019

2 Waterline Square by KPF 2019

Kohn Pedersen Fox has designed Two Watertower Place, a 656-unit project straddling the blocks of the 61st Street edge with a ragged roofline reaching up to 38 floors.

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