London Terrace Towers

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  • 410 West 24th Street, New York City, NY
  • 470 West 24th Street, New York City, NY
  • 465 West 23rd Street, New York City, NY
  • 405 West 23rd Street, New York City, NY
London Terrace Towers
LondonTerraceApts-NYC-Exterior.jpg

London Terrace is a massive study in brick and Terra-cotta
Building Information
Developer Henry Mandel
Architect Farrar & Watmough
Management Company Douglas Elliman Property Management
Number of Units 1665 (4 buildings)
Number of Floors 19
Year Built 1930
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof PMR
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410 West 24th 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

The original London Terrace from 1845 to 1929[1]
London Terrace in the 1930s[2]

In 1750, Captain Thomas Clarke bought a large section of the Somerindyke farm to establish his retirement home. He named it Chelsea after London's Royal Hospital at Chelsea, where old soldiers spend their final years. The neighborhood name still stands today. Fire destroyed the house in 1776 and Thomas died soon after. His widow rebuilt the house and remained there until 1802.


Charity Clarke, the daughter, inherited the property and added it to the holdings of her husband, Benjamin Moore, the Episcopal bishop of New York and president of Columbia College. Their son, Clement Clarke Moore, got the property in 1813. Clement Moore understood good urban planning and subdivided the area between what is now 23rd and 24th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenue. He insisted on high quality workmanship for this new development, thus enhancing the value of his remaining property. He created elaborate row houses built in the flamboyant Anglo-Italianate style. It was completed in 1845 and was called London Terrace.


Moore died in 1863 and over the next few decades, London Terrace declined until the block was purchased in the 1920s by real estate mogul, Henry Mandel, sometimes referred to as the Donald Trump of his day. Mandel decided to erect the largest apartment complex New York had ever seen. He succeeded. The buildings contained an astonishing 1665 apartments boasting more than 4000 residential rooms.[3]


The Great Depression struck shortly after London Terrace opened and drove Mandel into personal bankruptcy in 1932. The building foreclosed in 1934 and changes in title went on until 1945. Ownership was then split. London Terrace Gardens, the inner buildings, continued to be rental dwellings. The four corner towers were re-branded as London Terrace Towers and were converted to a cooperative condominium in 1988.

Location

London Terrace Towers is located on an entire block in the West Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. It extends between Ninth and Tenth Avenue and faces 23rd and 24th Streets. It is conveniently located about a block from the Hudson River and just north of Greenwich Village.


Restaurants, pubs, and coffee bars are nearby. The Walk Score website lists more than a dozen places to eat under 500 feet from London Terrace Towers. Numerous parks and plazas are easily reached and are all around the building within a mile. The High Line Park is near, the Chelsea Waterside Park, Pier 64, and the Chelsea Historic District are but a few of the choices.


Supermarkets, fruit stores, health food stores, delis, along with wine and spirits shops, make up the grocery selection available to residents within a quarter of a mile. It's easy to meet daily needs without the use of a car and a walk score of 98 out of 100 has been assessed for this location. For travel farther afield, nearly 100 bus and rail options are at the doorstep.[4]


Construction

Henry Mandel completed purchasing the entire block bounded by Ninth and Tenth Avenues and by 23rd and 24th Streets, in 1929. Mandel hired Victor Farrar and Richard Watmough, of the architectural firm of Farrar & Watmough to create the largest apartment structure ever seen in New York and perhaps, the world. Mandel asked for the design to use the round-arched and highly ornamental Tuscan style of architecture that Farrar & Watmough had used repeatedly before.


Henry Mandel completed this massive project in two phases. The ten smaller buildings were finished in 1930 and the four corner towers were completed the following year. The 15 year old great-great-grandson of Professor Moore was at the cornerstone laying ceremony doing the honors with the trowel. Even though the complex had a distinctive South Italian style, it retained the name of London Terrace.


The buildings contained, within a single block, an astounding 1665 apartments. Most were either studios or one-bedrooms, with only a few large apartments in the corner buildings and at the terraced levels. With more than 4000 residential rooms, the density was vastly more than the worst slums of Calcutta.[5]


Layout and Features

This ad appeared in The New Yorker September 24, 1938

London Terrace Towers created affordable living for many people. Floor layouts were studios, one, and two bedroom units. A few three and four bedroom corner units and penthouses were also included.


A large pool was built into one of the towers and a large restaurant at the other end of the block in another tower in order to conform to New York's density living guidelines of the time.


Roof decks for common use and for a few of the terrace penthouses were added. These are very popular areas for residents, although, during special events, the Fire Marshall has restricted the maximum capacity on several of the decks.


For fitness conscious residents, London Terrace Towers also feature a bike room and a gym, in addition to the swimming pool.


Floor Plans

Several hundred floor plans exist for the four towers in the complex. Here are a few samples:


Amenities

London Terrace Towers features:

  • Swimming pool
  • Roof deck
  • Gym
  • Full time doorman
  • Live in Superintendent

When London Terrace was built, it was one of the largest apartment buildings in the world. To market the new residence, promotional films were created. These have since been digitized and are are presented here.

Even though the Quicktime videos are small and silent, they feature fashions and activities of that era and are quite interesting.

Promotional Videos for London Terrace

Bylaws

London Terrace Towers Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No


  • Pets are allowed
  • There are no age restrictions on ownership
  • Rentals are permitted

Sustainability

London Terrace Towers was constructed in 1930, long before our modern social awareness of environmental concerns. The building was designed to provide rental housing for people in the Chelsea neighborhood, to create a social and business network for residents, and to attract new residents from other areas. Environmental concerns would not become part of our mainstream thinking until much later.

  • However, with today's greener consciousness, tenants and residents can lessen their impact on the environment by:
    • Participating in New York City's recycling programs
    • Installing newer more energy efficient appliances
    • Choosing modern renewable construction materials when renovating their new condominium
    • Using proper environmentally conscious methods of waste disposal for construction waste


Trivia

Doormen at the London Terrace in NYC, dressed as London Bobbies[6]


Clement Clarke Moore, who once owned this property, was an accomplished business man and urban planner. Although the list of his achievements throughout his life is long, Moore is best remembered for penning a famous poem the begins with the line, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas ... [7]


  • Henry Mandel's vision of London Terrace, as it was known prior to the condominium conversion, was to create a business and social center for its residents.
    • A network of tunnels connected the entire complex.
    • In those days before the advent of cell phones, page boys were hired to deliver messages to residents.
    • There was a telephone message service notifying residents that a call had come in. Telephones in every household was a luxury many people could not afford.
    • Residents could also call the mail room when they arrived home to have their mail delivered to their apartment.
    • Secretarial services were available to residents. 202 secretaries were hired.
    • Other business connections included engineers, attorneys, accountants, and "presidents of companies". For providing these extra services to residents, they paid on average $30 monthly rent per room.[8]
    • As a play on the name of the complex, Mandel had the doormen dress as London Bobbies upon opening.

References

  1. Ephemeral New York
  2. Ephemeral New York
  3. New York Architecture
  4. Walk Score
  5. NYC architecture
  6. London Terrace Gardens History
  7. Ephemeral New York
  8. NYC Architecture


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