The Upper West Side has a rich and culturally significant history that reminds those of us who live here why it’s such a privilege to be able to call it our home. Many films and photographs have effortlessly captured the neighborhood’s essence through still shots of its charming streets and majestic buildings. So who are the architects of the Upper West Side?
We rarely take a break from our hectic schedules to contemplate the intricate design of the prewar gems and townhouses that distinguish the Upper West Side, created by these architects, from the rest of the city. There’s always an architect behind the construction of every building and we’ve rounded up three of the most influential ones. Their talent and impeccable vision have played a key role in raising the Upper West Side from the ground up. Read more about these iconic architects of the Upper West Side. And find out who designed your building. There’s a chance you live in an Upper West Side apartment created by a legend!
1860 – 1928
An article covering architects of the Upper West Side cannot be complete without Clarence True. Clarence True was one of the principal architects that helped define what makes the Upper West Side one of Manhattan’s most sought after neighborhoods. Clarence was known for his picturesque style and preference for ground-floor entrances. He specialized in taking classic row houses and redesigning their interior to make them more spacious.
Row houses of the time used to employ a narrow style and True managed to reinvent the concept by giving them a comfortable shape that didn’t feel as constraining. He was also an avid developer and worked on the development of Riverside Drive. Clarence has left a large legacy that can be seen throughout many streets of the neighborhood. It’s easy to see elements of Elizabethan style in many of the elegant townhouses he designed and his ideas were truly revolutionary.
1847 – 1918
Out of this list of architects of the Upper West Side, Henry Hardenbergh was behind perhaps the most famous buildings, including The iconic Dakota, the Plaza Hotel, and the original Waldorf-Astoria. The Dakota is an architectural masterpiece that was considered to be the epitome of luxury when it first was inaugurated. Hardenbergh combined Victorian and Gothic details with a North German Renaissance style to create structures that were innovative and stood out against other more conventional buildings of the time.
The fact that The Dakota is a designated landmark and remains one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan speaks to his immense talent and originality. It’s difficult to imagine a time when the Upper West Side was a mostly empty stretch of land far away from the happening action of Midtown. The neighborhood’s transformation is in part credited to Hardenbergh and hundreds of his buildings have stood the test of time thanks to his “built for long-term use, not short-term profit” mentality.
Hardenbergh also built many stunning New York brownstones.
1871 – 1948
Emery Roth was the architect who designed the city’s most exquisite and luxurious residences. He’s renowned for incorporating Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles into the Upper West Side and designing many iconic New York City hotels. Roth enjoyed a long and successful career that took him on a expansive tour covering some of today’s most coveted streets such as Central Park West.
He was a daring visionary who converted classic designs into modern high-rises that can be observed from afar as spectacular works of art. Some of his best creations are fashionable prewar buildings like the Beresford on 81st and Central Park West, the San Remo, and the Oliver Cromwell. Emery Roth was ahead of its time and singlehandedly placed the Upper West Side on the map by creating a dramatic skyline with his impressive collection of emblematic buildings.