Level Club

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253 West 73rd Street, New York City, NY

Level Club
LevelClubNYC.jpg

The Level Club in the Upper West Side of Manhattan
Building Information
Architect Clinton, Russell, Wells, George, and Holton
Management Company Orsid Realty Corp
Number of Units 144
Number of Floors 19
Year Built 1927
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253 West 73rd Street, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Over 20 nearby routes
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R8B
Title of Land Condominium


Contents

Background

The Level Club was originally built as a clubhouse for a fraternal club of Masons who called themselves the Levellers. This particular club had been founded in Harlem in 1919, and in 1927, their clubhouse opened in the Upper West Side, an occasion marked by a grand parade through the streets of Manhattan. The Masons used the building for only a couple of years before the Great Depression hit and their bank foreclosed on the property. During the 1930s, the building was used as weekly housing for men, before being converted into a kosher hotel during the 1940s and 1950s, and then later a single occupancy hotel in the 1960s.


By the 1970s, the surrounding area of the Upper West Side around the building had become populated with drugs, prostitution, and crime, and the building was turned into a rehabilitation center for those with substance abuse problems. During this time the building was known as the Phoenix House, and was used to help the disenfranchised of the neighborhood. In the early 1980s, the Phoenix House sold the building to developers for $9 million, a sum of money that later enabled the Phoenix House to open up an additional three treatment facilities.


In 1984, the developers converted the building into luxury condominiums, and over 50 years after the Masons left the building, its original name was restored and the condominium building became known as the Level Club. Sitting mid-block on West 73rd between Broadway and West End Avenue, the Level Club is a 19 story building that offers residents the opportunity to live within a piece of history, provided they possess the right amount of imagination to appreciate the building’s eclectic, unorthodox, and ultimately fascinating charm.[1]


Location

The Dakota, located nearby

Located on West 73rd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, the Level Club finds itself in the heart of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and unfortunately, this building is often overshadowed by its more flashier neighbor of the Ansonia next door. Nevertheless, the Level Club enjoys all the conveniences of this location, including access to both Riverside Park and Central Park, and the hundreds of walking, jogging, and biking trails these two urban gardens contain. Just over two blocks to the east is the legendary avenue of Central Park West, along which some of the most famous residences in New York are located, including the Dakota, 55 Central Park West, 15 Central Park West, the San Remo, and the Majestic.


To the South, residents will find the world famous Lincoln Center, an arts and cultural institution that holds 29 different performance venues, and is home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. Additionally, the educational facilities of the Juilliard School, the School of American Ballet, and the New York Public Library of Performing Arts are also located within Lincoln Center. Finally, the Upper West Side is home to the tourist destinations of the American Museum of Natural History, the Hayden Planetarium, Columbia University, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and the American Folk Art Museum, as well as the famed eateries of Zabar’s and Gray’s Papaya.


Residents of the Level Club will find themselves within walking distance to numerous food, retail, and home services outlets, and therefore car ownership is not required to complete their daily errands. The rest of New York is accessible through over 20 different transit routes nearby. [2]

Construction

The Hotel Astor prior to its demolition

This building was originally designed by the architectural firm of Clinton, Russell, Wells, George, and Holton, a firm responsible for such famed New York buildings such as the Apthorp, the Langham, the Beaver Building, the Broad Exchange Building, and the Hotel Astor, now the location of One Astor Plaza.


Construction on the project began in 1926 and was completed in 1927, with the official opening happening on November 12th, 1927. This opening was marked with a parade of over two thousand participants, including a dozen bands, as well as billygoats and three elephants. The parade began at Park Avenue and 34th Street, and ended at the Level Club on West 73rd Street just west of Broadway.


After decades of changing ownership and use, the building was sold for $9 million to developers Harold Thurman, Patrick Consalvas and Jacques de Roquancourt, who subsequently began converting the building in condominium apartments. The architect for this conversion was the firm of Wechsler, Grasso & Menziuso, who divided the building into 160 units. These units have since been reduced to 144 through combinations of units by residents.


When the Level Club originally opened, the building contained an Olympic sized swimming pool, a 1,500 seat theater, a bowling alley, a racquetball court, a billiards room, a gymnasium, a roof garden, and an expansive banquet hall. Sadly, these features no longer remain inside the building, but the exterior of the building has undergone an extensive restoration to preserve its original details. In 1984, the Level Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]

Layout and Features

The Level Club was designed to emulate the Temple of King Soloman, a symbol of great importance to the Masonic order, and the exterior facade of the building features numerous Masonic symbols such as the hourglass, the hexagram, the beehive, the all-seeing eye, the level, the Bible, and the Star of David. Clad in granite and brick, this exterior facade has been fully restored, and features two large pillars over the building’s entrance. These pillars are topped with bronze globes that are planets covered in water lilies, an image that symbolizes earthly love”, and these globes are illuminated at night.


The globes above the entrance to the Level Club

The entire facade is clad in granite and brick, and underneath the third floor windows, decorative panels can be found inscribed with the initials “LC”, for Level Club. The entrance itself is under a large marquee, and inside, the restored lobby stands three stories high and features an Italian marble staircase, paneled walls, and an impressively decorated ceiling.[4]


Inside the building, the 144 apartments offer a wide variety of wholly unique layouts and arrangements. In fact, no two apartments in this building are alike, and range in size from studios to penthouse suites. Select apartments have gas or wood burning fireplaces, terraces, and/or contain multiple levels.


Additionally, the building is known for its quirky, or self described funky layouts, including one apartment that is hidden behind a stairwell, differently shaped hallways, views of gargoyles, and ceilings of varying heights. It was even reported that one owner in the building once discovered an entirely new window in their apartment that had been hidden behind sheet rock.[5]

Floor Plans

As every apartment is unique, a selection of floor plans is presented.


Amenities

The two story lobby of the Level Club
  • 24 hour doorman
  • Live in superintendent
  • Children’s playroom
  • Laundry facilities

Bylaws

Level Club Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No


  • This building allows rentals.
  • There are no age restrictions for this building.
  • This building is pet friendly.

Sustainability

Constructed between 1926 and 1927, the Level Club was built long before the modern awareness of sustainability and green living initiatives and therefore, it is a product of its time.

While the Level Club is not a LEED certified building, there are several green measures residents can undertake to help improve their building’s overall sustainability. These include:

  • Updating their appliances to more energy efficient models
  • Using environmentally friendly household products
  • Participating in New York City’s comprehensive recycling programs
  • Using sustainable materials when renovation their apartments
  • Taking advantage of the building’s proximity to services by walking or taking public transit to reduce their carbon footprint

Trivia

Resident Bruno Bertuccioli's book on the Level Club
  • This building is the subject of a book written by longtime resident Bruno Bertuccioli. The book, entitled “The Level Club: A New York City Story of the Twenties: Splendor, Decadence and Resurgence of a Monument to Human Ambition”, was published in 1991.


  • Longtime resident Larry Schier was the first buyer into the building when it was converted into condominiums in 1984. He has described himself as the building’s resident mayor.


  • The name The Level Club came from the Masons who originally built the building. They were known as the Levellers.


  • The Phoenix House was able to fund three treatment facilities with the $9 million they made from the sale of this building.[7]


References

  1. NY Daily News
  2. Walk Score
  3. City Realty
  4. City Realty
  5. NY Daily News
  6. Streeteasy
  7. NY Daily News


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