50 Riverside Drive

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50 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY

50 Riverside Drive

The light colored beige brick of 50 Riverside Drive
Building Information
Architect Gronenberg & Leuchtag
Management Company 50 Riverside Tenants Corp
Number of Units 97
Number of Floors 16
Year Built 1930
Construction Method Concrete
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50 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit DistanceNotNumberOfOptions
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R8B
Title of Land Cooperative



50 Riverside Drive was another prestigious addition to the already refined area of Riverside Drive in the Upper West Side. In the 1920s, the neighborhood was attempting to become the luxurious alternative to living on Fifth Avenue. Although it did not necessarily succeed, as many fine mansions existed, it is still a highly sought after area of Manhattan in which to live.

From mansions in the early 1900s, to tenement apartment buildings of the 1920s and 1930s, to the modern converted cooperatives and condominiums of today, the hilly terrain of Riverside Drive has had a storied history. It passes through the neighborhoods of the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, and Manhattanville in West Harlem.Riverside Drive was part of the concept of Riverside Park designed by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.

Riverside Park was a beautification project designed to eradicate the blight of the rail yards along the Hudson River and create a scenic alternative for the city. In 1928, the New York Times wrote about a large project that would cost millions (a significant sum for the time), that would transform the riverside area into a park.

Many of the five and six story low-rises were taken down and replaced with much taller apartments and classier buildings. Later, the Times reported that financing was secured for a 16 floor apartment building at 50 Riverside Drive that would house house 491 rooms. All these rooms would be divided into 9 suites averaging four to eight rooms per unit in addition to two penthouse suites.

In 1928, it was a gamble to undertake such an ambitious improvement project, but it seems to have paid off. Today the Riverside Drive area is considered a jewel of the Upper West Side. The conversion 50 Riverside Drive to condominiums took place in 1979.[1]



50 Riverside Drive is well situated in the Upper West Side of Manhattan on Riverside Drive looking out over the Hudson River and Riverside Park, the second largest park in New York City.

It's a quiet neighborhood (by New York standards) and situated on a rise over the Henry Hudson Parkway running through Riverside Park. Groceries are close and there are 20 different kinds of schools in less than half a mile. The Tecumseh Playground is less than three blocks away and two blocks after that, residents get to Central Park, arguably the most famous urban park in the world.

Just before Central Park, is the Hayden Planetarium and the American Museum of Natural History. Lincoln Center for the performing Arts is just 10 'short' blocks to the south.

There are well over a dozen public transit options steps from the door, so commuting or travel to other parts of the city is easy. The nearest 'watering hole' is right around the corner. More restaurants can be found a few hundred feet further on Broadway.[2]


50 Riverside Drive is probably considered to be a mid-rise building with only 16 floors. The facade consists of a light colored beige brick with two band-courses forming a small ledge, one between the fourth and fifth floors, and one between the 13th and 14th floors.

Windows come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the windows are a simple glass plate. Others are divided vertically by a mullion and are operable and still others are quartered. Sizes of windows are similar as sight lines rise vertically, but the styles vary randomly.

Above the 13th floor band-course, windows near the corners and in the center of each street facade are trimmed with white, likely limestone, and feature an arch over extending to the 15th floor. Overall, the fenestration is inconsistent, but not chaotic.

Layout and Features

Pre-war charm and ceilings over none feet are a couple of the features present in 50 Riverside Drive. The doorman and the concierge are on duty to greet residents as they return or go out.

It faces views of the Hudson River and Riverside Park. In the distance across the river, lies New Jersey. It has a quiet tree-lined street on one side of it, 77th Street.

There is a central laundry room although some of the suites have machines in the apartments. A bike room, storage, and a play room round out some more of the features.[3]

Floor Plans

It's interesting how buildings in times gone by referred to the number of rooms an apartment had, whereas today, references seem to focus only on how many bedrooms a unit has. 50 Riverside Drive was advertised as a new apartment building in 1930 holding 491 'rooms' and that they were subdivided into 91 apartments consisting of four to eight rooms each.

Here are some floor plan images showing how those 'rooms' were arranged:


As one of the earlier conversions (1979), this building does not have as many amenities as modern condominiums and cooperatives.

Here are a few:

  • Full time doorman
  • Concierge
  • Basement storage
  • Laundry in building
  • Great views
  • An attractive neighborhood


50 Riverside Drive Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No

  • Pets allowed
  • Rentals are permitted
  • No age restrictions are imposed for ownership


50 Riverside Drive was built in 1930 before the idea of sustainable housing was considered. Modern thinking about sustainability in methods and design was not prevalent.

However, residents may contribute to a greener existence and can reduce their carbon footprint by:

  • Using the bike lanes in the area
  • Choose to walk to neighborhood amenities such as restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops.
  • Install energy-efficient appliances
  • Use public transportation instead of driving
  • Participate in New York City's excellent recycling programs


  • One of the neighbors to 50 Riverside Drive is the Schwab House at 11 Riverside Drive. It's a large 644 unit cooperative just down the road. But what stood there before, was perhaps the most opulent mansion that New York had ever seen. It was the house for Charles M. Schwab, the steel magnate. The mansion had 75 rooms and when completed around 1906, it had cost a staggering (adjusted to modern) $156 million.
  • In popular culture of Riverside Drive:[4]
    • George Gershwin occupied the penthouse at 33 Riverside Drive
    • Sergei Rachmaninoff owned a townhouse also at 33 Riverside Drive
    • And coincidentally, in the movie Death Wish, Charles Bronson's character, Paul Kearsey, also lived at 33 Riverside Drive
  • Riverside Drive has seen many changes over the last century. Here are some of the visible changes of the same area:


  1. Street Easy
  2. Walk Score
  3. Street Easy
  4. Wikipedia - Riverside Drive
  5. [Aerial-view-of-Riverside-Drive-with-ships-in-Hudson.-2F3XC5IXQA61.html New York Historical Collections]
  6. ]http://collections.mcny.org/Collection/[Aerial-view-of-Soldiers'-and-Sailors'--Monument.]-2F3XC5IXKUOB.html New York Historical Collections]

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