The Upper East Side was originally developed as a summer retreat for downtown New Yorkers, who built estates and private houses there during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Following the creation of nearby Central Park between 1857-77, the district went through several phases of development. The first houses were brownstones built in the Italianate and Greek Revival styles of the 1860s to 1880s; examples of these may still be found on a number of side streets.
Roughly between1880 and 1910, architectural firms such as McKim, Mead & White and C.P.H. Gilbert erected luxurious Beaux-Arts palaces and French Renaissance chateaus for some of New York's wealthiest families. The opulent Beaux-Arts house at No. 4 East 74th Street was designed by Alexander M. Welch in 1898-99. Standing six stories, the building features a limestone base and entrance portico, as well as a cartouche over the center window on the fourth floor. As elite families began to build houses off of Fifth Avenue, carriage houses were built towards Park Avenue, a less desirable street at the time because of the railway that ran along it.
A third phase, from 1910-1930, saw a rise in the demand for classical forms, with many edifices built or redesigned in neoclassical style. It was also during this era that the first luxury apartment buildings were constructed on the Upper East Side. These are distinguished by a sense of scale and proportion in relation to surrounding structures, giving the neighborhood a unique balance between the larger apartment buildings situated on major avenues and the smaller buildings on side streets. The fifteen-story apartment building at 993 Lexington Avenue was designed by Schwartz & Gross and built in 1913. Typifying the trend in the area, this building replaced four-story row houses, and is a fine representation of this development.
The historic district extension is comprised of seventy- four buildings in two sections, located along Lexington Avenue between East 63rd and East 76th Streets. Many of the buildings are similar in terms of materials, design and historical development to the existing Upper East Side Historic District. During the second decade of the twentieth century, several row houses along Lexington Avenue were altered to include commercial storefronts on their first and second stories. Of note are the converted neo-Grec row houses at 1012 to 1022 Lexington, originally designed by architects Thom & Wilson. The neighborhood continues to be a thriving commercial and residential area. ©2014