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Thread: Architectural Anolmalies

  1. #1

    Default Architectural Anolmalies

    Please help me resolve a portion of my thesis research.

    As a non-native New Yorker, I have come to the conclusion that the kind of information I am seeking is more easily stumbled upon over time than researched in a library.

    I'm in search of odd buildings in the New York City area.

    If anyone has come across any weird architectural constructs, follies of urban planning and/or juxtapositions of disparate building types please tell me where they are.

    For example: 4 Downing Place, Brooklyn

    This is good, excellent even, but I am more interested in approaching this from an urban planning standpoint: fragments of neighborhoods that have been isolated by less than thorough zoning resolutions, small wood framed houses surrounded by skyscrapers because the owner successfully retained his property, lone lanmarked buildings whose surroundings have developed in such a way to make them completly out of context, etc.

    Thanks so much for any help.

    *i do actually know how to spell anomalies*
    Last edited by jipperbunnyrabbit; November 29th, 2005 at 03:34 PM.

  2. #2


    Sylvan Terrace may be a good example:

    More info:

  3. #3


    In Greenwich Village: MacDougal Alley, Washington Mews, Grove Court, Grove Street, 102 Bedford Street, Northern Dispensary, Jefferson Market Library, Merchant's House.

    Chinatown: Doyers Street.

    East Side: Sniffen Court, Turtle Bay Gardens, Tudor City, Lescaze House, Rudolph House

    Upper West Side: Pomander Walk, Belnord and Apthorp Apartments, Ansonia.

    Washington Heights: Audubon Terrace, Morris-Jumel Mansion, Cloisters, Dyckman House.

    All of Forest Hills, Queens, particularly Station Square.

    Brooklyn Heights is full of anomalies; just wander around, particularly towards the Bridge.

    Also: check spelling of "anomaly."
    Last edited by ablarc; November 29th, 2005 at 07:15 PM.

  4. #4


    Gingerbread house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

    Scroll down and you'll see it. It's landmarked.

  5. #5


    The architects studio on the roof of the building right across the street from the F-train stop on York street in DUMBO, brooklyn (first one in brooklyn).

  6. #6
    Forum Veteran
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    New York City


    We have a friend of the family who lives in Sniffen Court.


    How about the Cherokee Apartments between 79th and 77th Streets and York Avenue and the FDR? Certainly a step up from the old-law tenements:

  7. #7 Front_Porch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Manhattan 90210

    Default There's a Sniffen Court 1-BR for rent . .

    If anybody is in the mood to pay $3,500 for it -- attic-y bedroom, but gorgeous LR and nice patio.

    I will post this on "moving to NY" too -- I try not to post inventory, but these don't come up that often.

    ali r.
    {downtown broker}

  8. #8


    Paul Rudolph's residence

    a site with a few pictures of "holdouts:"

    Then there's the few remnants of Colonial and Federal New York in lower Manhattan -- Fraunce's Tavern, Federal hall, St. Paul's Chapel, this thing:

    Going back to holdouts for a second, Citicorp center was constructed on stilts (with near-disastrous results) to accomodate a church on the corner that refused to move:

  9. #9


    And then there was the Wooster collective and 11 Spring Street:

    The Hearst Building?

    Coney Island?

  10. #10


    Mentioned in a couple places on the forum, but this stops me in my tracks every time. Not as washed out as it looks in the photos either.

    11 Spring Street:




  11. #11


    Villa Charlotte Bronte in the Bronx:


  12. #12
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    A Short History of Secret UWS Street Pomander Walk

    by Sara Polsky

    The Upper West Side's Pomander Walk is a gated secret street tucked between Broadway and West End and West 94th and 95th streets. Today Scouting NY has an exploration of the street and its history, including a few facts we'd never heard before. The block was created in 1922, and the name comes from a play, a romantic comedy set in Pomander Walk, "a retired crescent of five very small, old-fashioned houses near Chiswick (London)." But it wasn't supposed to stay up for more than a few years.

    [Pomander Walk in the 1920s, via Scouting NY. The NYPL digital gallery has a few more teensy old photos.]

    The land belonged to one Thomas Healy, who made his money in nightclubs, and he originally planned to build a hotel there; Pomander Walk was only meant to bring in some income for Healy until he could finance the hotel construction. But after Healy's death in 1927, no one else moved forward on his plans. The block was endangered again in the 1970s, but it was preserved with a landmarking in 1982. At the moment Pomander Walk has nothing on the market. A 2BR recently sold for $710,000 and a 1BR was asking $399,000. The downside to those prices: not a lot of space.

    A Secret World on the Upper West Side: A Trip Down Pomander Walk [Scouting NY]
    Pomander Walk coverage [Curbed]

  13. #13
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    At High-Priced Corner, a Building Forlorn


    Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
    The Northern Dispensary, built in 1831, at 165 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, has stood empty for more than two decades.

    Library of Congress
    The building provided medical services for years and was most recently a dental clinic.

    Yet at that same intersection, there is a brick building at 165 Waverly Place, pinkish in color and triangular in shape, that has stood empty for more than 20 years. It appears to owe that lonely fate to the quirks of its owners and to an extraordinary set of deed restrictions on its use.

    A provision dating to the early 19th century requires that the building, called the Northern Dispensary, be used to serve people who are poor and infirm, according to its owners. This might tangle the plan of any condominium developer. The deed restrictions also rule out “any obscene performances on the premises or any obscene or pornographic purposes.” And they prohibit abortions.

    Now, after years of chipping paint and broken windows, there is a bit of movement at this forlorn site. The owners are patching up the roof, cleaning up the inside and trying to figure out where to go from here.

    “We’re aware of the deed restrictions,” said Martin McLaughlin, a spokesman for William Gottlieb Real Estate, which owns the property. “We’re examining our options.”

    William Gottlieb, for whom the company is named, was known for buying properties, including many rental buildings in the Village, and then sitting on them. Mr. McLaughlin said his clients had no intention of putting the building up for sale, either.

    The Northern Dispensary — so called because, at the time, it was in the northern part of what was then New York City — was built in 1831 and provided medical services for much of its life, eventually winding up as a dental clinic. That clinic struggled financially, however, and in the 1980s, after refusing to treat a man because he had AIDS, it was sued, fined tens of thousands of dollars and then closed. The building was taken over by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which sold it in 1998 for $760,000.

    The man who bought it, Mr. Gottlieb, was a challenging little mystery all by himself. He started buying property in the 1950s and by the time he died in 1999, he owned about 100 buildings in the city, an empire estimated at one point to be worth $1 billion. But instead of indulging in expensive suits and chauffeured cars, Mr. Gottlieb — a sloppy dresser who frequently skipped his morning meeting with a razor — drove a beat-up old station wagon and carried his papers around in a shopping bag.

    “If you saw him on the street, you would say, ‘This man is a bum,’ ” K. Thomas Elghanayan, chairman of TF Cornerstone, a prominent real estate developer, said. “But he was always very straightforward, he stuck to his word, and he was impossible ever to buy anything from.”

    No, Mr. Gottlieb was not a flipper. Instead, he tended to buy buildings — generally small parcels concentrated in the West Village, the meatpacking district and Chelsea — and then let them languish.

    “Sometimes, arguably, that was a good thing because he kept a lot of old buildings from being destroyed,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “Sometimes it was not, because he might just sit there as buildings deteriorated.”

    “They don’t necessarily seem to follow a logical or easily explicable path,” Mr. Berman added, referring to Mr. Gottlieb’s family, a group that has continued his tradition of inscrutability. “And to be honest, that’s about as much insight as I can offer.”

    The Northern Dispensary was one of the last buildings Mr. Gottlieb bought, and today it falls to Neil Bender, his nephew and principal of the real estate company, to decipher the deed restrictions, which lawyers and title experts describe as a complicated undertaking. The language might be old, and the intentions dusty, but experimenting with their meaning, they say, can still result in a lawsuit.

    Stuart Klein, who was inspector general of the city’s Buildings Department from 1978 to 1984, said, “The law of easements and restrictions — you could stand on it and change light bulbs in your house.”

    In the early 1990s, Mr. Klein represented a group of the Northern Dispensary’s neighbors who were trying to come up with alternate uses for the building in the face of a proposal to house homeless people with AIDS on the site. At that time, Mr. Klein recalled, he found the deed restriction on serving the poor to be solid.

    “My recollection was that the deed restriction couldn’t be removed,” he said. “That significantly devalued the property.”

    Deed restrictions have been in use in the United States since Colonial times, said Stuart M. Saft, chairman of the real estate practice at Holland & Knight, and were employed as an early form of zoning. They might ban blacksmithing on a property in a residential area, for example, or perhaps the tanning of hides — two restrictions that survive on many New York City deeds today, said Rafael Castellanos, managing partner at Expert Title Insurance Agency, even though those industries have long since vanished.

    But deed restrictions were also frequently used as a method of segregation, barring black or Jewish people from living in a particular building. Those restrictions were declared unconstitutional in the late 1940s.

    The durability of a deed restriction depends on a jumble of factors, including how it was written, whom it protects and whether the person who initiated it is still alive. The restrictions may be cleared away in court, but that is not always easy.

    New restrictions, meanwhile, are still sometimes added to deeds by owners, like the Archdiocese of New York.

    Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said in an e-mail from Rome last week that he did not recall the specifics of the Northern Dispensary transactions, but he was not surprised to learn of the deed conditions.

    “It is common (if not universal) for there to be language in the sale of church property that prohibits the property from being used for activities contrary to the teachings of the church,” Mr. Zwilling wrote, “and that would include performing abortions, or the sale of pornography. That’s required in church law before property can be sold.”

    So at least for now, the deed restrictions at the Northern Dispensary remain in place.

    “That dear little building used to be beautiful on the inside,” said Christabel Gough, a preservationist who has lived nearby for 30 years and used to attend block association meetings in the Northern Dispensary’s dignified, paneled boardroom.

    “But that building seems to be jinxed,” she added. “I don’t know what they will do.”

  14. #14


    Perhaps more of an anomaly in terms of art than architecture, but still:

    77 Water street
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    If you're looking for architectural anomalies in New York (or if you're simply fascinated by/interested in New York overall) you just have to visit this site... I found the above anomaly through this blog and the guy behind it is putting in a lot of time and effort in creating some amazing posts that always includes a lot of photos. While not specifically about architecture, I also urge you to check out the post on various locations from American Psycho.

    Some other architectural anomalies I found through the site:

    109 3rd Avenue
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    Palazzo Chupi
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    Mount Vernon Hotel at East 61st street
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