East River House

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505 East 79th Street, New York City, NY

East River House

East River House showing its balconies and set back terraces
Building Information
Developer The Herbert Albert Corporation
Architect Philip Birnbaum
Number of Units 206
Number of Floors 20
Year Built 1963
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof PMR
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505 East 79th Street, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R10A
Title of Land Condominium



East River House at 505 East 79th Street, situated in Yorkville in the borough of Manhattan, opened in 1963 as an apartment building. The conversion to luxury condominiums came in 1971. It is well established and situated in a rather quiet neighborhood in the Upper East Side. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Yorkville was home to working class people from many origins. People of Czech, German, Hungarian, Irish, Jewish, Lebanese, Polish, and Slovak descent, settled in Yorkville and many still remain. A large population of Irish people were scattered throughout Yorkville, attending Mass at the numerous Catholic churches in the area and frequenting several Irish bars.

Many German residents began to move uptown to Yorkville after the disaster of June 15, 1904, when the ferry boat, the General Slocum, caught fire and 1,021 souls were lost in the East River. Most of the passengers were German. It is considered the worst maritime tragedy in New York's history and the largest loss of life in a single incident in New York, until the events of September 11, 2001. 86th Street was often referred to as German Boulevard.

The neighborhood is historically renowned for its working class roots and the independent shops like butchers, poultry shops, grocery stores, and shops that sold leather products and crystal. Most of the tiny independent shops have been replaced by urbanization, but the communities in Yorkville still celebrate some events. The Austro-German and Hungarian populations enjoy Oktoberfest, and until the late 1990s, New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade terminated at Third Avenue and 86th Street, the historical center of Yorkville.[1]


East River House at 505 East 79th Street, is situated in the area of Manhattan known as Yorkville. It is described as one of the best places to find fine German Pastry and dining and is home to its own Oktoberfest. Yorkville is also where the official residence of Mayor of the City of New York is located. Yorkville is bordered on the north by East 96th Street, on the west by 3rd Avenue, on the south by East 72nd Street, and on the east by the East River.[2]

East 79th Street extends from East End Avenue running parallel to FDR Drive along the East River, to Fifth Avenue where it enters Central Park through Children's Gate, about a mile from East River House. Day to day needs can easily be met on foot with the walk score website scoring this address a perfect 100. Scoring a 94 out of 100, transit connections are nearby, however, the closest subway station is on Lexington Avenue about four long blocks away.

Many varieties of restaurants of varying ethnicity are within steps of East River House. Under three quarters of a mile, lie several dozen schools, from preschools, to public and middle schools, to high schools, with a few private schools thrown into the mix. Coffee shops, delis, and grocery stores are also within a short walk of less than two tenths of a mile.[3]


  • East River House is a 20 storey concrete building containing 206 apartments. It is located on a quiet two way street, 79th Street, in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, steps away from the East River. The building is opposite an unbroken block-long row of six storey housing units.
  • East River House features some balconies and setbacks on the uppermost levels provide terrace space for those residents. It has a red brick facade accented by brown brick on either side of the windows.
  • The building follows a post war construction sensibility avoiding a monolithic appearance by the choice of colored brick and consistent fenestration.[4]

Layout and Features

  • The original marketing brochure for East River House offers a parking garage and also in building laundry. These still exist. However, the large "Kelvinator Self-Defrosting Refrigerators" have been replaced with newer more energy efficient stainless steel appliances.
  • The "Beautiful Formica counter tops" have been swapped for granite with tile back splashes.
  • The "Venetian Blinds" have given way to more modern and easier to clean window coverings.
  • The rooftop "Free Master TV Antenna" has long since given over to local cable TV providers and internet services.
  • Probably the saddest change from the marketing brochure to today's reality, is that there is no more "Free Gas" supplied to the apartments.[5]

Floor Plans

44 floor plans are lodged for East River House. Some are shown here.

Structural walls have not been disturbed, but modifications within the units have occurred.

The first two images display East River House as it was first presented to the public in 1963.[6]


  • Parking is available for residents of East River House.
  • Also, they are greeted by a doorman on duty 24 hours.
  • A laundry room is located in the basement.
  • For fast response, the superintendent lives in the building.


East River House Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No

  • Pied-a-terre and rentals are allowed.
  • Pets are permitted with approval.


  • Although East River House was constructed prior to our modern awareness of sustainability, the conversion to condominiums usually incorporates some form of environmental consciousness.
  • Apart from upgrading old energy hog appliances with newer modern and efficient ones, the windows have been replaced to offer greater insulation efficiency.
  • Even modern construction activities have the environment in mind taking care to dispose of construction waste in an orderly and sustainable manner.


  • East River House not was directly affected by the East River flood waters caused by Hurricane Sandy, but high waters were observed on FDR Drive at the end of the block. (Fig1)
  • Carl Schurz Park, a 10 to 15 minute walk from East River House, features winding pathways, green lawns and waterfront views, There are playgrounds for the kids and two dog runs. (Fig2)
  • Gracie Mansion, built in 1799 and enlarged circa 1811, has been the official residence of the Mayor of the City of New York since 1942. It is situated in Carl Schurz Park. (Fig3)


  1. Yorkville, Manhattan - History
  2. Yorkville
  3. Walk Score
  4. City Realty
  5. Promotional Brochure from 1963
  6. East River House - Promotional Brochure
  7. Wikipedia - Carl Schurz Park

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