Lenox Hill historical walking tour, Upper East Side of Manhattan houses, hotels, clubs, schools
Start at the Lexington Avenue-63rd St. subway stop & stroll through the neighborhood east of Central Park from E. 61st to E. 73rd St.
There are many homes in Manhattan with a star-studded past, but perhaps no Manhattan address has had more celebrity owners than 153 East 63rd Street. The home was built for socialite Barbara Rutherford when she married Cyril Hatch, also a leading member of New York society. Over the years, the home has been owned by numerous celebrities from burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee to acclaimed director Spike Lee. The home became a New York City Landmark in 1977 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Barbizon Hotel for Women opened in 1927 as a home for young women who came to New York City to find work, including those in pursuit of their dream of becoming a model or actress. By the mid-twentieth century, the 23-story property had developed a reputation for attracting young women who were both glamorous and successful. The building was home to numerous future celebrities and a small army of models of the Ford agency, a company that rented two floors of the building. As second-wave feminism challenged the gendered assumptions that led to the creation of the Barbizon Hotel, a hotel for women seemed more prudish than stylish. As a result, the property was converted to hotels and apartments as it changed hands in the late 20th century. The building now houses condominiums and is known as Barbizon 63. Owing to its architectural and historical significance, the property is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On a quiet Upper East Side street, amongst the gilded manors squished six or seven stories into the sky, sits the Edward Durell Stone House. The mid-century masterpiece was extensively renovated into its present form by its namesake in 1956. Stone, who is known for combining modernism and formalism in buildings like MoMA and the US Embassy in India, lived in the house until 1964. Zen-like in its simplicity, Stone House is recognizable by its sheared facade designed to bring light into the building's four stories.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this stately home on East 65th Street was once the home of President Franklin Roosevelt, his wife Eleanor, their five children, and his mother Sara Delano Roosevelt. Sara Delano Roosevelt gifted the home at 49 East 65th Street to Franklin and Eleanor at Christmastime in 1905, two and half years later the couple moved in with their two children. At that time, Sara Roosevelt occupied Number 47 next door. Over the next three decades, the Roosevelt House was the location of numerous historical events, including the birth of Social Security. The Roosevelt House is now owned by Hunter College and operates as a Public Policy Institute in the former home. While the institute is non-partisan and not tied to the policies of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, this building continues to influence public policy debates just as it once did when it was home to discussions among members of the Roosevelt family's extended circle of influence.
The Park Avenue Armory was constructed between 1877 and 1881. It was originally home to the 7th Infantry Regiment, and later, several other divisions and regiments. The building was designed and constructed by Charles Clinton. However, the magnificent Veteran's Room, influenced by cultures from all over the world, was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White, Candace Wheeler and Samuel Colman. Today, the building serves as an event venue for visual and performing arts that need an unconventional space to display their work. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
The Explorers Club was founded in 1904 by “a group of men active in exploration” in order to “unite explorers in the bonds of good fellowship and to promote the work of exploration by every means in its power” (1). The club moved locations several times following its official incorporation (October 15, 1905), ultimately ending up at this Jacobean townhouse in 1965. Today the club hosts events, lectures, and exhibitions, many of which are ticketed events that are open to the public and discounted for members. This historic space may also be rented out for certain events.
The Asia Society Museum was one of the first American museums to establish a program of contemporary Asian art. The Society was founded by John D. Rockefeller 3rd in 1956. The goal of the Society is to foster an understanding between peoples, leaders, and institutions in Asia and the United States. The Museum uses art and culture to encourage a global understanding of one another in order to ensure a shared future. The Museum holds tours, rotating exhibitions, and family events for visitors to enjoy.
The Bohemian National Hall is a social club for people who come from Czech and Slovak cultures. Originally built in 1896 with additions in 1897, the building was designed in a neo-Renaissance palazzo style by architect William C. Frohne and funded by the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association (BBLA), which was established in 1892 and brought together many Czech clubs that already existed. Over time, the Bohemian National Hall was used less and less by the Czech and Slovak communities in New York, and it fell into disrepair. Luckily for the survival of the building, it was designated a New York City Landmark in 1994, and in 2001, the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association sold it for a dollar to the Czech Republic, who completely renovated the building, a project that was completed in 2008.
The 12 rowhouses in Lenox Hill on the south side of E. 69th Street from #322 to #344 are remnants of the scores of new residences built in the neighborhood in the late nineteenth century. The coming of the elevated train above 3rd Avenue to the neighborhood in 1878 made commuting to lower Manhattan easy, and developers soon filled the streets with rowhouses for housing the middle class. In 1879, architect Jacob H. Valentine designed six of the rowhouses; William R. Smith designed the rest. The brick rowhouses faced in brownstone are a surviving example of the neo-Grec style that became popular in the era but is rare to be found today amidst the area's altered rowhouses and high-rise buildings. The rowhouses were listed in the New York and National Registers in 1984.
The Rockefeller University was founded in 1901 by business magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. The founding of the University was influenced by Reverend Fredrick T. Gates, one of Rockefeller's advisors, who studied Osler's Principles and Practice of Medicine. Guided by these ideas, the University took a scientific approach to studying medicine and became the first biomedical research center in the United States. Since its founding, the University has made multiple breakthroughs in the medical field while also producing students who have gone on to have successful careers in other related fields.
The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden sits on land originally owned by Colonel William Stephens Smith and his wife Abigail Adams Smith, daughter of John Adams. It was built in 1799 as a carriage house and was converted into a "day hotel" (similar to a country-club) in 1826 at a time when midtown Manhattan offered a semi-rural respite from the bustle of downtown. Today, eight fully furnished rooms are open to the public as a museum.