This area on the Upper West Side remained predominantly farmland until the 1880s, when the extension of the Ninth Avenue Elevated Railroad made it more accessible and the creation of Riverside Park provided an inducement to live there. At the time, land speculation increased and the construction of private residences began, including what is generally regarded as the most elaborate and eclectic collection of row houses in New York. These houses derived their stylistic inspiration from Romanesque, Renaissance, Elizabethan, and François I designs. Particularly notable are the French Renaissance houses by Lamb & Rich on West End Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets. Clarence F. True's townhouses on Riverside Drive (dating from 1896-98) are eccentric, based on English Renaissance structures.
Overall, the buildings in this area are characterized by projecting bays, oriel windows, loggias, dormers, and contrasting terra cotta and stone ornamentation. The five townhouses at 323-331 West 76th Street exemplify these varied designs, with red brick and beige brick townhouses decorated with loggias, windows with cabled fluting and subtle fretwork. No. 327, which stands apart with its bulbous off-center bay window and a receding top floor loggia, was once owned by “the Father of the West Side,” Cyrus Clark, a prominent financier and planner who compellingly advocated for the community interests of the area at the turn of the twentieth century.
The next phase of building in the area lasted from 1911 through 1931 and resulted in the construction of eight large apartment houses, whose architects -- among them Emery Roth and Schwartz & Gross – emulated the styles and materials of the existing row houses, providing a counterpoint to the smaller-scale houses. The buildings, which alternate between nine and nineteen stories, feature concentrated ornament and prominent windows.
The West End- Collegiate extension more than doubles the size of the existing district, and primarily represents development from the mid 1880s to 1920s. The extension contains diverse building stock, including row houses, town house, flats, high rise apartment buildings, schools and churches, which illustrate the evolution of the Upper West Side after 1880. ©2014