Hotel des Artistes

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1 West 67th Street, New York City, NY

Hotel des Artistes
HotelDesArtistes-NYC-Exterior.JPG

The front face of Hotel des Artistes showing half of its "H" design
Building Information
Developer Walter Russell
Architect George Mort Pollard
Number of Units 126
Number of Floors 18
Year Built 1916
Construction Method Concrete
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1 West 67th Street, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R8
Title of Land Cooperative


Contents

Background

Despite the name, the Hotel des Artistes never served as a hotel. However, it offered amenities not often seen in a pre-war building such as this.

The quiet West 67th Street location
The building had a swimming pool, two workout rooms, a communal restaurant, a theater, a ballroom, and its own switchboard.

The building did indeed attract artists. Famous residents include Isadora Duncan, the dancer, and Noel Coward, the playwright best known for his wit and flamboyance. Fannie Hurst had a very large triplex and the building was also home to New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay. Writer Alexander Woollcott and Norman Rockwell, the artist, lived here. Another resident, artist Howard Chandler Christy produced some murals for the famous .

With that list of residents, Hotel des Artistes certainly lives up to its name. The building is the largest "studio" building in the city and was designed specifically as an artist's cooperative building.

At the base of the building is the famous Café des Artistes, now The Leopard at des Artistes as of 2011. Christy's murals, “Fantasy Scenes with Naked Beauties” were painted from the late 1920s to 1935 and have been expertly restored during a massive renovation. The name Leopard of the renovated café, or in Italian, "Il Gattopardo", was taken from a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the last in a line of Italian princes, who wrote a historical novel based on the the life of his great-grandfather, Don Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi, another Prince of Lampedusa. The restaurant serves food from Southern Italy, especially Sicily and Sardinia.

According to a 1920s census, the occupation tally accounted for 14 artists, musicians and writers, 11 actors or movie executives, and 22 stockbrokers, engineers, and other business people, not to mention 26 household servants.[1]



Location

Hotel des Artistes was not the first 'atelier' style building to built on the street (it was actually the fifth), but it was certainly the most noteworthy. It shares the neighborhood of Lincoln Square with other notable buildings such as, 2 West 67th Street across the street, 45 West 67th Street a more modern taller building down the street a bit, and the Musician's Building at 50 West 67th Street.

The canopied entrance to Hotel des Artistes
Lincoln Square extends from 59th Street on the south to 72nd Street northwards. It borders Central Park just steps to the east and the Hudson River on the west. The neighborhood is probably most famous for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, located about a block and a half from Hotel des Artistes.

This neighborhood offers so many performance and entertainment destinations, from the 29 performance venues at the Lincoln Center, to the Broadway Theater District. And if that isn't enough, the world famous Central Park is just across the road for the out-of-doors experience.

The neighborhood teems with restaurants and bars strategically placed to capture the attention of theater-goers before and after a performance. Groceries options are a block or two away.

Schools in the immediate area teach Law, music, religion, arts, and regular academics. More than 50 schools of one discipline or another are all within a one mile radius of Hotel des Artistes.[2]

Construction

The multi-pane windows of the lobby area
Some of the Neo-Gothic styling on the façade
Hotel des Artistes was designed by George Mort Pollard and it is rumored that Walter Russell, famed painter, sculptor, author, physicist, and builder, had a hand in the development and design of this building. An odd dalliance, perhaps, for a man more noted for his natural philosophy and for his unified theory in physics and cosmogony, than as an architect.

The building with its Gothic-style façade was an idea put forward by a syndicate of artists to create a haven filled with studios where artists of all sorts could live and work. The idea seemed to turn into a movement and by 1915, there were four tall co-ops of different designs.

This building has elaborate sculpture and stonework throughout its "H"-plan shape. It rises 18 floors and originally housed 72 apartments. Today, there are about 115 units, although estimates range as high as 126. Over the decades, apartments have been reconfigured by either dividing a larger suite, or create one or more smaller suites from one apartment.

Suites are designed with an artists 'work-space' in mind, creating lofts with tall windows for natural light. Mostly, artists prefer the light from a northern exposure, but Hotel des Artistes created lofts and studio space on the south side of the building as well. A high-walled garden exists on the roof deck.

Hotel des Artistes has been an upstanding member of the tree-lined street referred to as "Artist's Row" since it opened - and still is.[3]

Layout and Features

Upon opening, Hotel des Artistes offered services that rivaled actual hotels of the time and sometimes exceeded them.

A cutaway look at one of the lofts
Residents were greeted by a staffed lobby with doormen and a concierge. The marble-finished lobby reflects the designs of a bygone era with wrought iron rails, a heavily beamed ceiling stained dark, and two small offices on either side of the elevators that may have served as a mail room or message center in its day.

Residents are whisked to their respective floors by the elevator operator, still in effect today. Staircases on either side of the lobby lead to the floors and amenities above.

Originally, there was a pool, a ballroom, a sun-parlor, a first floor grill, and a much larger communal restaurant on the second floor. The pool is still in use, but that restaurant, and the chef who ran it, are now gone as apartments have modern kitchens installed.

The ballroom has been altered to house the fitness club, the elite La Palestra. There is a second workout room, a squash court, and a high-walled roof garden. The murals of The Leopard des Artistes have been discussed, but there are other paintings in the building, as well.

This artist's haven has double height ceilings as high as 22 feet and are perfect ateliers with 19 foot windows.[4]


Floor Plans

More than 20 layouts are published. Here is a sampling of what Hotel des Artistes contains within its walls:

Amenities

  • Full time doorman
  • Concierge
  • Health Club
  • Pool
  • Washer/Dryer in building
  • Elevator person
  • Squash courts
  • Many duplexes with double-height "studio" living rooms
  • Famous The Leopard des Artistes restaurant
  • Many fireplaces
  • Convenient to Central Park and Lincoln Center and cross-town buses

Bylaws

Hotel des Artistes Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Age No



  • Rentals are allowed
  • Only 50% financing is permitted
  • There are no age restrictions for ownership

Sustainability

The construction of Hotel des Artistes in 1917 no doubt created some hardship on the environment through the collection of raw materials, transport costs, and emissions.

However, over time (nearly 100 years, now), those impacts have been absorbed and dissipated by the environment.

It has been in continuous service as a dwelling for its entire existence. Renovations for its most recent iteration as a cooperative have installed some energy saving and cost-cutting measures that lessen the building's impact on the environment.

For instance, appliances have been replaced with modern energy efficient models. Additional modifications to the units may include, but are not limited to, low flow faucets and fixtures, improved wiring, modern plumbing, and lighting requiring less electricity.

Residents may also participate in New York City's extensive recycling programs to help lessen their impact on the environment.

Trivia

The Leopard des Artistes restaurant
Fine Italian dining
One of the murals by Howard Chandler Christy


The Leopard des Artistes, after which the new version of Café des Artistes is now called, was named for the Italian word, Gattopardo, which actually refers to a serval, a spotted medium sized ocelot-like cat indigenous to Africa. It is seldom seen north of the Sahara dessert.


The new restaurant name was taken from the title of a modern literature novel of Italian history called Il Gattopardo, or The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.


More accurately, The restaurant chose to align itself with a movie made in 1963 with the same name, starring Burt Lancaster and Claudine Cardinale, and directed by the legendary Italian director, Luchino Visconti.


This name was taken to more closely reflect the style of cuisine the restaurant offered and to pay homage to number of artists, actors, and celebrities who have frequented the restaurant over the years.


The Leopard des Artistes specializes in local cuisine from the south of Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia.[5]


Buon appetito!


(They deliver ...)

References

  1. New York Times - Christopher Gray - Streetscapes
  2. Walk Score
  3. City Realty - Review
  4. Street Easy
  5. The Leopard des Artistes - website, "About us"


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