My Favorite Buildings on West End Avenue

  Last modified on July 19th, 2022

West End Avenue features a tightly packed world of NYC architecture. Squeezed in between high-rise apartment buildings, townhouses occupy various construction types including Beaux-Arts and Renaissance Revival styles.

At the beginning of the 20th century, local architects exercised an innovative mixture of building design along West End Avenue. This was in large part to compel members of the upper class to move into these Upper West Side apartments.

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This was a relatively new residential concept, as dwelling in private houses was more common place for affluent New Yorkers. The effort resulted in a unique collection of attractive, quaint, and historical residences that sets the West End Avenue apartment from other Upper West Side streets.

The Apthorp

390 West End (between 78th and 79th Streets)

Moving to an example of classical style meshed with urban necessity is this historic building located at 390 West End Avenue. The Apthorp was built in 1908 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style and influenced by the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy. The 12-story Apthorp resembles a grand palazzo as the structure engulfs an entire city block.  The massive limestone façades give way to an intimately designed courtyard featuring fountains, lanterns, and an assortment of rich botany.

Stately, vaulted arches rise to the third floor and permit access to the courtyard. Classical sculptures of reclining goddesses fill the space between the edge of the arches and the bottom of the fourth floor. On each side of the arched entrance stand two pilasters that feature intricate, leafy capitals at their tops. Standing atop each pilaster are sculptures of figures adorned in togas and gazing outward with sober expressions, one holding branches and another clutching killed game. At the time of its construction, the 163-residence Apthorp was the largest residential building in existence. Today, it offers luxurious, spacious floor plans combined with ornate classical expression.

Read More: Nora Ephron’s Upper West Side Homesickness

The Apthorp NYC

The Leech House

520 West End Avenue (corner of 85th Street)

Constructed of red sandstone, the Leech House spans five stories and includes Romanesque, Elizabethan, and Gothic elements. The bottom floor’s stone placement lends that floor the appearance of castle walls. One of its more notable features is its elaborate entrance.

The door is surrounded by an arch intricately decorated with leafy carvings. An ornate balustrade-like structure juts out above the entrance to complete the entrance’s modest but sophisticated appearance. To the entrance’s right is a modest bay window spanning three stories that breaks the façade’s uniformity. Two handsome gables reach out from the façade at the fourth floor with finials at their edges and tops. The corner of the first three floors curves towards West End Avenue, hinting at a medieval turret.

John Burgess Leech Mansion

photo by Alice Lum, courtesy of http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/

638 West End Avenue

Corner of 91st Street

Standing out among the neighborhood’s more classically styled townhouses is the Georgian style residence at 638 West End Avenue. The building’s base and four slender Corinthian columns that support a modest entablature are all made of white stone. The second and third floor façades are red brick with simple white stone trimming around the rectangular windows. The fourth floor façade is interesting for its contrast of red brick and white stone. On the roof, dormers stand out with dark, curved pediments topping them.

638 West End Avenue

photo by Alice Lum, courtesy of http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/

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535 West End Avenue

Corner of 86th Street

While it’s a bit of a departure from these other old world buildings, this modern luxury condo blends into the block beautifully, as it was designed to. Located on the south west corner of 86th and West End, the twenty-story building was completed in 2010 by Lucien Lagrange Architects.

The apartments are huge, and expensive. There are twenty-two half and full floor homes. 535 West End also has an awesome pool.

535 West End Avenue

640 West End Avenue

Corner of 91st Street

This ivy-covered condo is located between 91st and 92nd Streets. At 12 stories tall, the building facade is made of a grey brick with a limestone facade; but what you’re obviously going to notice is the amazing greenery running down the exterior.

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And last but not least … these beautiful townhouses between 76th and 77th Streets.




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