Located in Washington Heights, this area is named for John James Audubon, the artist and naturalist who published the important work, Birds in America. Audubon purchased nearly twenty acres of land in the area in 1841, when Washington Heights was still relatively undeveloped aside from several grand estates. In the 1860s, the family began selling parcels of the estate, which was soon developed into an area of single-family detached houses. With the completion of the IRT Seventh Avenue subway line extension in 1904, major residential development of the area commenced and a number of apartment buildings were constructed from 1905 to 1932, mirroring the sophisticated apartments in Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side.
Many of these Beaux Arts and Renaissance Revival-style buildings were uniquely named to reflect the history and culture of the surrounding area: they include Hispania Hall, the Rhinecliff, and the Cortez. The design of these buildings is attributed to several notable architects, including George F. Pelham, Schwartz & Gross, and Denby & Nute. H-shaped and U-shaped floor plans, which incorporate courtyards to provide light and air for inhabitants, are featured in many of the district's structures, including the Kannawah building at 614 West 157th Street, designed by Joseph C. Cocker in 1909. Today, the area remains predominantly residential. ©2014