New York Songlines: Riverside Drive

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89 Riverside Drive

Riverside Drive, unlike virtually all Manhattan roadways, curves as it follows the natural topography of the island. Laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1873 alongside his Riverside Park, it was opened in 1880 as Riverside Avenue and renamed in 1908. The street originally terminated at 123rd Street.

Another thing that sets Riverside Drive apart from most Manhattan streets is its almost complete lack of commercial real estate —at least below 125th Street. Its first developments were elite townhouses and mansions, most of which were later replaced by high-end apartment buildings. The neighborhood became a bit downmarket in the mid-20th century, but has since returned to being one of the most sought-after addresses in the city.

Riverside Drive splits and reforms along its length, creating islands of green space. For the most part, I'm going to ignore that, placing all the buildings on the right side and everything park-related on the left.

W <===     WEST 125TH STREET     ===> E





The Cotton Club

The Cotton Club This is not the original whites-only Harlem music club, but a desegregated reincarnation that opened in 1978. Cab Calloway headlined the debut here. (photo: Art Bromage)

W <===     ST CLAIR PLACE     ===> E

St. Clair Place is named for St. Claire Pollock, the "amiable child" buried in Riverside Park. (See below.)

This was the north end of Riverside Avenue (as it was originally called) when it was first laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted. From here north to 135th Street, Riverside Drive is an elevated roadway.


Claremont Playground

North of Grant's Tomb Named for the Claremont Inn, which used to stand on this site. The land overlooking the Hudson from roughly 107th Street to 127th Street, bounded on the east by what is now Broadway, was owned by Dutch farmer (and slaveowner) Adrian Hooglandt, who was the sixth-great-grandfather of Gloria Vanderbilt. During the Revolutionary War, on September 16, 1776, the Battle of Harlem Heights was fought here. Afterwards, in 1784, the land was sold to Nicholas de Peyster, who in 1796 sold the northern end of the estate, from 121st Street on up, to linen merchant George Pollock, who built a summer home called Monte Alta here on what was then called Strawberry Hill. Pollock only lived here three years—during which time his young son St. Claire died in a fall here.

By 1806, the land was owned by Michael Hogan, one of the "great merchants of his day," who built a new mansion called Claremont here, perhaps named after his native County Clare (though Hogan was also friends with the Duke of Clarence, who went on to become King William IV of England). Hogan was said to live here with an "Indian princess," and their home was "the scene of some of the most brilliant social festivities in the city."

In 1809, Hogan leased the house to William "Kitty" Courtenay, a British aristocrat who fled to New York to escape reports of his homosexuality. The next tenat was Theodosia Burr Alston, the brilliant and beautiful daughter of Aaron Burr, and her husband John Alston, governor of South Carolina. (When they married in 1801, the couple inaugurated the tradition of honeymooning at Niagara Falls.) Theodosia was lost at sea at the beginning of 1813, trying to return here from South Carolina. The house was leased in 1815-16 to Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon and former king of Spain, who may (or may not) have entertained Lafayette, Louis Phillipe and Talleyrand while living here. The Claremont

The mansion was converted to the Claremont Inn around 1842, and continued as a celebrated roadhouse after the city acquired the land for Riverside Park in 1872. It catered to big spenders, famous for its $5 steaks and $40 bottles of wine (perhaps $150 and $1,200 in today's money). It hosted celebrations for presidents McKinley and Taft, as well as Adm. George Dewey. It was fashionable into the Jazz Age, with the likes of Cole Porter, George M. Cohan and Mayor Jimmy Walker partying here.

Prohibition brought an end to the inn's golden age, with the establishment reduced to dispensing milk. "Let's drop off in the Claremont for a couple of shots of milk and a lettuce sandwich," the Sun sarcastically suggested. "I've had a big week and I need a milk or two to clear my old bean." The place was relaunched in 1934 by Mayor LaGuardia and Robert Moses, with more democratic pricing; dinner could be had for $1.50 and a beer for 10 cents—think $32 and two bucks, in 2020s terms. It was only too popular; noise complaints led to a court-ordered curfew that forced the inn to reopen as a cafe in 1941. It closed for good in 1947, and by 1951 it was a ruin that burned to the ground. Moses was suspected of having the fire set to save the $100,000 cost of restoration. The playground here was built by the following year.

Memorial to 'an Amiable Child'

Sights and People of NYC Down the hill from the playground is one of the few graves on public land in New York City. George Pollock's five-year-old son, St. Claire Pollock, fell to his death from the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River and was buried here, memorialized as "an amiable child." After he sold the land, George asked the new owner to "confer a peculiar and interesting favor upon me" by preserving the grave "always enclosed and sacred." (Photo: Jazz Guy)

Grant's Tomb

Grant's Tomb

Who's buried in Grant's tomb? Why, Ulysses S. Grant, a great general and an underrated president—alongside his wife, Julia Dent Grant. Completed in 1897, 12 years after the general's death, it was built to a design by John H. Duncan, who won a contest with his plan based on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. (Duncan also designed the arch at Grand Army Plaza.) It was funded by 90,000 people donating $600,000, at the time the largest public fundraising project ever.

Riverside Park

Riverside Park A 267-acre park—four miles long and an eighth of a mile wide—that stretches along Manhattan's Hudson River waterfront from 72nd to 155th Street. The initial design for the park, which originally stopped at 125th Street, was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, and more or less implemented from 1872 until 1910. The park as we know it today is largely based on the vision of Robert Moses, who built the Henry Hudson Parkway, covered the New York Central railroad tracks, and used landfill to extend the park into the Hudson.

119th Street Tennis Courts, also known as the Over the Tracks Tennis Courts.

Riverside Park Bird Sanctuary

Ten acres of the park between 116th and 124th streets have been set aside for bird habitat, with landscaping reverting to forest and meadow, and invasive species replaced with wild-life friendly natives. The blue grosbeak, summer tanager and hooded warbler are regular visitors.

Riverside Park Promenade

Women's Health Protective Association Fountain

This fountain at 116th Street commemorates the 25th year of the WHPA, formed in 1884 to promote public health. The memorial was designed by Bruno Zimm, who also did Tompkins Square's Slocum Memorial.

Nicholas de Peyster, who in 1784 bought the land overlooking the Hudson from roughly what is now 107th Street to 127th Street, built his country estate on the ridge here opposite what would become West 114th Street.

Kossuth Memorial

Lajos Kossuth A statue of Hungarian independence advocate Lajos Kossuth, flanked by figures representing a revolutionary soldier liberating a peasant. He was president of the breakaway Kingdom of Hungary in 1849, and went into exile when it was reabsorbed by the Austrian Empire. His arrival in New York in 1851 sparked "Kossuth Mania."

The sculpture by Janos Horvai was installed in 1928, funded by Hungarian Americans, but had to be reinstalled a couple years later due to corrosion problems.

Samuel Tilden Statue

Samuel Tilden

Tilden was a reform Democrat who was elected governor of New York in 1874 and won the popular vote for president in 1876, but was denied the office via Electoral College shenanigans. He left $50,000 in his will for a statue of himself, but between heirs contesting the will, disagreement over location and disputes between sponsors and sculptor William Ordway Partridge, the statue was not erected until 1926, 40 years after Tilden's death.

The Andy Kessler Skatepark opened in 1996 as Riverside Skatepark, the first full-sized public skatepark in Manhattan. Its conversion from a disused playground was spearheaded by Andy Kessler, an Upper West Side skateboarder who led the Soul Artists of Zoo York crew. He went on to design and build numerous other skateparks across the city and beyond. After this park was rebuilt and remodeled in 2019, it was renamed for Kessler, who died in 2008 from an allergic reaction to a wasp sting.

Neville Colman Field is named for a doctor whose malnutrition research led to the fortifying of grain products with folic acid. A white South African who left his country over his opposition to apartheid, Colman was also the founder of the West Side Soccer League, described as the largest all-volunteer sports organization in NYC.

Peter Jay Sharp Volunteer House

A limestone building from the late 19th century that was expanded in 2003 and turned into a meetingplace for volunteer groups. Sharp was the owner of the Carlyle Hotel and a supporter of music and theater; he died of melanoma in 1992 at the age of 61. His foundation funded part of the reconstruction. (photo: William Avery Hudson)

Franz Sigel Statue

Franz Sigel

Sigel (1824-1902), a military leader in the failed German revolution of 1848, came to the US as an exile, for a time teaching in New York City public schools. An opponent of slavery, he joined the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War, and was soon promoted to brigadier general by Lincoln because of his popularity with German immigrants. He is not remembered as a particularly brilliant general, but he has his defenders.

105th Street Dog Run

Firemen's Memorial

Widow & Fallen Firefighter

A monument to firefighters who have died in the line of duty—and their horses. It was designed by architect Harold Van Buren Magonigle with sculptor Attilio Piccirilli, who also collaborated on the Maine Memorial in Central Park. The figures flanking the monument, representing Duty and Sacrifice, were both carved using the ubiquitous Audrey Munson as a model.

John M. Carrere Memorial

A commemorative terrace for architect John Mervin Carrere (1858–1911), designed by his partner Thomas Hastings. The pair, who met when they worked together at McKim Mead & White, collaborated on the New York Public Library, as well as the Frick mansion, the Manhattan Bridge approach and the Hamilton Fish Recreation Center. Carrere was struck and killed by a car in 1911, and the memorial, which provides access to the interior of the park at 99th Street, was presented as a gift to the city in 1919. It originally cost $9,000; it was restored in 2013 at a cost of $675,000.

Dinosaur Playground

Appears in the 1979 film The Warriors as the Bronx park where a gathering of the gangs of New York is interrupted by an assassination. Today the park is home to two fiberglass dinosaurs, a triceratops and a hadrosaur.



560 Riverside Drive

560 (corner): A utilitarian building from 1964 with 26 floors and 182 units, owned by Columbia University. Includes the Red Balloon Learning Center preschool.

552: A co-op from 1910.

550 (corner): A six-story building from 1926.

TIEMANN PL         ===> E

549 Riverside Drive

549 (corner): Crescent Court Apartments, six stories built in 1925. Like the other buildings on this block, owned by Columbia. Philosopher Simone Weil lived here from July-November 1942.

548: Six-story Columbia housing from 1926.

547: Six-story Columbia housing from 1926.

530: Six-story Columbia housing from 1926.

528: Six-story Columbia housing from 1926.

527: International House North, an expansion built in 1961. International House

500: International House was opened in 1924. Funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr., it was designed to bring together students from all over the world. Residents here have included authors Chinua Achebe and Jerzy Kosinski, musicians Leonard Cohen and Burl Ives, and architect IM Pei, along with various presidents, Nobel Prize winners and CEOs.

Sakura Park

Sakura Park These two acres, once owned by John D. Rockefeller, were purchased in 1896 by the city to expand Riverside Park. Originally called Claremont Park, for the avenue that bounds it on the east, it was renamed for the Japanese word for "cherry blossom" after the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York donated trees to be planted here. (Most of the 2,500 trees ordered from Japan were lost at sea, and the survivors arrived three years after the 1909 celebration they were meant to be presented at.) Daniel Butterfield

The park includes a statue of Gen. Daniel Butterfield, composed of "Taps," which faces Grant's Tomb. Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum was reportedly so irritated by demands for revisions to his artwork that he signed his name to the top of the statue's head, claiming that was the one part of the project he hadn't been asked to change.

W 122ND ST         ===> E

Riverside Church

Riverside Church Tower

490 (corner): An interdenominational church opened in 1930 with the support of John D. Rockefeller. It features the largest collection of bells in the world.

It has a history of indentifying with progressive causes; Martin Luther King gave his major speech opposing the Vietnam War here on April 4, 1967. Others who have spoken here include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Fidel Castro and Cesar Chavez. Jackie Robinson's funeral was held here in 1972, at which Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy.

W 120TH ST         ===> E


Interchurch Center

The Interchurch Center

475 (block): Nicknamed the God Box for its blocky architectural form, this building has been called "the closest thing to a Vatican for America's mainline Protestant denominations." Funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to encourage interfaith cooperation, the building had its cornerstone laid in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower and was completed in 1960. Its limestone cladding was intended to echo that of Riverside Church.

Its tenants have included the National Council of Churches and the national offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (USA), all of which have since relocated. Current tenants include the national headquarters of Alcoholics Anonymous, the magazine Commonweal, the Riverside Park Conservancy and the Greater New York Councils of Boy Scouts of America.

W 119TH ST         ===> E

468 (corner): Concord Hall, built 1904, owned by the Interchurch Center. 460 Riverside Drive

464: All the buildings between here and No. 445 are owned by Columbia University and were built from 1909-1911.

460: A 12-story building from 1910, owned by Columbia. This was home in 1930 to William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, and his wife and inspiration Elizabeth Holloway, along with Marjorie Wilkes Huntley, who was William and perhaps Elizabeth's lover (and an early Wonder Woman letterer). Poet Rachel Hadas was a child here and wrote a poem called "460 Riverside Drive."

452: The Mira Mar, from 1910, one of architect Gaetan Ajello's first major commissions. The Brookfield

450: The Brookfield. Legendary sportwriter Grantland Rice lived in this 1909 building, as did New Republic editor Bruce Bliven, sociologist Robert Merton (who coined the terms "role model" and "self-fulfilling prophecy"), philosopher Corliss Lamont and Trump Attorney General William Barr.

449: Movie producer David O. Selznick (Gone With the Wind, Rebecca) is said to have lived at this no-longer-extent address.

448: Cultural critic Edward Said also lived here.

The Paterno

The Paterno

440 (corner): A majestic apartment building built in 1910 by the Paterno Brothers, a construction family from Naples. The design is by Schwartz & Gross, featuring an unusual curved facade and a grand covered entranceway. The writer Damon Runyon lived here, as did Nation editor Freda Kirchwey. Giselle takes refuge in an apartment here in the movie Enchanted.

W 116TH ST         ===> E

The Colosseum

435 (corner): The Colosseum, another building by the Paterno Brothers, with a curve that complements The Paterno. This was home to silent film star Francis X. Bushman, billed as "the handsomest man in the world," and to Supreme Court Chief Justice Harlan Stone. Edward Said had an apartment here, as did Joseph Paterno, one of the brothers who built the place. St. Anthony Hall

434: St. Anthony Hall, clubhouse for the Delta Psi fraternity, which was founded at Columbia in 1847, making this the Alpha Chapter. (It was founded on January 17, the feast of St. Anthony.) This building was completed in 1899.

431 (corner): Woodbridge Hall. This was home to Rafael Díez de la Cortina y Olaeta, who introduced the use of phonographs to teach foreign languages.

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420 Riverside Drive

420 (corner): The Hamilton, 13 floors built in 1912 to a Gaetan Aiello design; formerly known as Cliff House. This building has been home to columnist Franklin P. Adams, writer/chef Anthony Bourdain, art critic Arthur Danto, cartoonist Rube Goldberg, charter school CEO Eva Moskowitz and theater impresario Roxy Rothafel.

Previously on this site was the Greek Revival Carrigan Mansion, built in 1836 for Andrew Carrigan, president of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank.

W 114TH ST         ===> E

The Cliff Haven

417 (corner): The Cliff Haven, 13 stories by Denby and Nute from 1918. Its residents have included Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Studios, and Clinton press secretary George Stephanopoulos.

414-415: Two townhouses from 1910 with strikingly bayed facades.

410 (corner): Twelve-story building from 1910. It's been home to Edward Said and anti-war journalist Jonathan Schell (NNYMUWS).

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The Strathmore

404 (corner): The Strathmore, 12-story Schwartz and Gross building from 1909. Residents have included theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, publisher George Delacorte, actor Isabella Rosselini League of Women Voters co-founder Carrie Catt and DA Frank Hogan. In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge and Joel live in Apt 9C here.

400: Seven stories of handsome red brick designed by George F. Pelham—from 1908.

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395 Riverside Drive

395 (corner): A 16-story building by Gaetan Ajello, finished in 1924. It was home to aviator Elinor Smith, the only person to have flown under all four East River bridges.

390 (corner): Another Ajello building from 1924. This one was home to singer/songwriter Carole King.

W 111ST ST         ===> E

385: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel lives at this imaginary address; her apartment building resembles the real-life No. 380. 380 Riverside Drive

380 (block): The Hendrick Hudson, named for the English sea captain who explored the Hudson River on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. Residents have included developer Abraham Lefcourt, cinema mogul Marcus Loew and Joseph Weber of the vaudeville team Weber & Fields. It was the first home of the Gilbreth family, inspiration for the novel and movie Cheaper by the Dozen.

W 110TH ST         ===> E Boundary between Morningside Heights and Bloomingdale


375 (corner): A 1922 Renaissance Revival apartment building by Gaetan Ajello. 370 Riverside Drive

370 (corner): A 15-story building from 1923 by Schwartz & Gross. Philosopher Hannah Arendt lived here from 1959 until her death in 1975. Other residents have included Grace Zia Chu, who popularized Chinese cooking in America; Clarence Lebel, who invented the fluorescent lightbulb; illustrator Norman Price; British Labour politician John Strachey; and Robert G. Thompson, chair of the New York State Communist Party.

W 109TH ST         ===> E


360 Riverside Drive

360 (corner): The Rutherford, 13 floors by Gaetan Ajello from 1917. Author William S. Burroughs lived here briefly in 1944-45.

W 108TH ST         ===> E

Openhym House

352-353 Riverside Drive

352-353: A Beaux Arts townhouse designed by Robert D. Kohn for silk merchant Adolphe Openhym, completed in 1901. Openhym killed himself in 1903 by jumping off the High Bridge connecting Manhattan and the Bronx.

It was later owned by the Jesuits, who used it as a residence for young priests before selling it in 1977 to Jim Rogers, investor and financial commentator. Rogers in turn sold it to oil heiress Helen LaKelly Hunt in 2008 for $15.5 million.

The building appears as the home of criminal psychologist Rebecca Neff in the 1981 film Wolfen.

Schinasi Mansion

351 Riverside Drive

351 (corner): Built in 1907 for cigarette maker Morris Schinasi, this is the last remaining detached house in Manhattan still in use as a single-family residence. It was designed by William Tuthill, architect of Carnegie Hall, who sued Schinasi for $5,655.65 in unpaid fees. After Schinasi's death in 1928, the building went through several purposes, including the Semple School for Girls; the Children's Mansion, a Columbia University daycare center; and the Experimental College, a Columbia/Barnard residential program. In 2013, it was bought by Goldman Sachs vice chair Mark Schwartz.

The house appears in the TV show White Collar as the home of the elderly widow whom the con artist main character stays with.

W 107TH ST         ===> E

340 Riverside Drive

340 (corner): Artist Jasper Johns and cultural critic Susan Sontag have both lived in this 1925 building—15 floors designed by Sugarman & Berger. (NNYMUWS).

W 106TH ST         ===> E

River Mansion

337 Riverside Drive

337 (corner): A 1902 red-brick mansion designed by Robert D. Kohn. The first owner was Shakespearean actor Julia Marlowe; other residents have included pencil maker Lothar W. Faber, painter Michael De Santis and actor Sherry Bronfman.

336: Limestone townhouse by Hoppin & Koen, occupied by the family of Raymond Penfield, second president of Goodyear, from 1905 through 1944. Nina Simone later lived here. 335 Riverside Drive

335: Another Hoppin & Koen townhouse from 1902. In the early 1910s, Dr. A.L. Soresi was conducting weird science experiments on dogs here—for example, grafting the leg of a dead dog onto a live dog. The Frankensteinesque doctor was arrested in 1913 as a public nuisance. Soon afterwards, pencil maker Lothar Faber moved here from No. 337 on the corner, living here until his death in 1943. Argentine economist and Columbia professor Graciela Chichilnisky now owns the building. 334 Riverside Drive

334: This was the home of Jokichi Takamine, a biochemist who was the first to isolate adrenaline; he was followed by toothpaste maker Richard Forhan, whose fire here in 1928 destroyed much of Takamine's art collection.

In 1934, there was a brothel here, run by Madeline Tully, where Bennie "the Bum" McMahon hid out after pulling off an armored car robbery in Brooklyn and then accidentally shooting himself in the leg on the getaway boat. The story's sad end is told in The Man With the Sawed-Off Leg, by Daniel Wakin, which explores the history of this block.

In 1930, this building was briefly home to the India Centre, intended to promote understanding of the culture of India. 333 Riverside Drive

333: This townhouse was built in 1902 along with Nos. 300-332 by builder Joseph A. Farley. After it became an apartment building in 1945, author Saul Bellow lived here, where he wrote The Adventures of Augie March and Seize the Day. Later jazz great Duke Ellington bought the building as a home for his sister, who also ran his music publishing business here; Ellington lived here with his sister from 1961 until his death in 1974.

New York Buddhist Church

New York Buddhist Church

332: The only post-war building on the block, the structure at this address was built in 1955 by the first Buddhist congregation in the city. Hozen Seki founded the church in 1938 before being placed in an internment camp from 1942-45. The bronze statue in front, depicting Buddhist monk Shinran Shonin, used to stand in Hiroshima and survived the atomic bombing.

The townhouse formerly at this address was bought by publisher William Randolph Heart to house the father of his lover Marion Davies, who lived in a place Hearst gave her next door. 331 Riverside Drive

331: This Beaux Arts townhouse was built in 1902 for publisher William Paul Ahnelt, whose Pictorial Review magazine published The Age of Innocence in serial form. Hearst bought the building in 1918 for Marion Davies, a 21-year-old showgirl from the Ziegfeld Follies. He moved her to California in 1925 when rival papers got wind of the extramarital affair. Since 1955, it's been part of the Buddhist church. 330 Riverside Drive

330 (corner): A grand limestone townhouse first purchased by baking powder king Robert Benson Davis, whose wife tried to have him declared insane; at one point he had to escape from his own home here by throwing an SOS letter out the window. Now the Riverside Study Center of the right-wing Catholic cult Opus Dei.

W 105TH ST         ===> E

320 Riverside Drive

320 (corner): A 1928 building by Leo F. Kunst with 15 floors. Hayley Mills, star of the 1961 Parent Trap, lived here (NNYMUWS).

W 104TH ST         ===> E

315 Riverside Drive

315-318 (corner): This 1920 Art Deco building by Boak & Paris is 19 stories tall.

In 1957, police arrested Vincent "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo, an associate of Frank Costello and a resident here, as part of a police effort to rid the city of "narcotics peddlers, gamblers, prostitutes, procurers, tinhorns and drifters.”

316: Actor Richard Mansfield, who originated the role of the Major General in Pirates of Penzance, had a townhouse at this address. The house seems to have subsequently been the childhood home of actor Alice Brady, who starred in the first production of Mourning Becomes Electra.

Master Building

310 Riverside Drive II

310 (corner): The tallest building on Riverside Drive at 29 floors, the Master Apartments were built by financier Louis Horch for his spiritual gurus, Nicholas and Helena Roerich. The Russian-born Theosophists were founders of the Master Institute of United Arts; Nicholas co-wrote the scenario for Stravinsky's Rites of Spring and is rumored to have suggested to his admirer Henry Wallace that a pyramid be placed on the back of the dollar bill.

The building, opened in 1929, was designed (by architect Harvey Wiley Corbett) to house the Roerichs and their followers, along with a museum for Nicholas' paintings and an art school. Horch and the Roerichs had a falling-out in the mid-1930s, resulting in the couple's eviction and the Roerich Museum becoming the Riverside Museum. The building retained an intellectual and artistic atmosphere; among the tenants were psychoanalyst Otto Rank, choreographer Tommy Tune, jazz composer Billy Strayhorn and author Elie Wiesel (NNY).

W 103RD ST         ===> E

300 Riverside Drive

300 (corner): A 1924 building by George F. Pelham with 14 floors. Replaced the mansion of glovemaker William Foster, which was torn down in 1922.

W 102ND ST         ===> E

299 (corner): Twelve stories from 1911, designed by Evan T. Macdonald.

294: This Beaux Arts townhouse from 1901 was designed by Schickel & Ditmars for William Baumgarten, a high-end interior decorator known for his reproduction tapestries. It was later home of Nikolai Avksentiev, who was president of the Russian Republic for a few weeks in 1918; he died here in 1943. 292-293 Riverside Drive

292-293: These 1897 townhouses by CPH Gilbert have striking rounded bay windows.

291 Riverside Drive

290 (corner): A 15-story building from 1924. Opera star Geraldine Farrar lived here.

W 101ST ST         ===> E

285: Designed by Rosario Candela for Charles Paterno, this 15-story building was completed in 1926. This was the home of Anton Fokker, airplane maker.

280 Riverside With Firemen's Memorial

280 (corner): Oxford Tower, a 1926 apartment building also designed by Candela and built by Charles Paterno. Said to be the first building where each apartment came with a refrigerator—cooled by burning gas in those days, oddly enough. Elaine Barry, John Barrymore's fourth wife, lived here when she was a teenager and dating the actor (NNY).

W 100TH ST         ===> E


276 Riverside Drive

276 (corner): The Wendolyn, designed in 1910 by WK Rouse and LA Goldstone. It replaced the Furniss Mansion, a stately white-pillared house built c. 1800 on land formerly belonging to royalist Charles Ward Apthorp. A hundred years later it was a sort of artists colony; Gertrude Stein was probably the most famous resident. 270 Riverside Drive

270 (corner): Glen Cairn, another 1910 apartment building by Rouse & Gladstone. Mary Pickford moved here with her family when the building was new and she was an 18-year-old silent movie star. Madonna stayed here for two weeks in 1978 when she first moved to NYC from Detroit. The mystery/comedy Only Murders in the Building, set in an Ansonia-like building on the Upper West Side, shot most of its interiors here.

269: Opera star Rosa Ponselle lived at this former address (NNYMUWS).

W 99TH ST         ===> E


265 Riverside Drive

265 (corner): A 1910 building by George F. Pelham. The penthouse reportedly appears in Woody Allen's Manhattan (1979).

260 Riverside Drive

260 (corner): The Chesterfield, a 1910 building by Rouse & Gladstone.

W 98TH ST         ===> E

258 Riverside Drive

258 (corner): The Peter Stuyvesant, a 1912 building designed by William Rouse. Carter Horsley praises its "fabulous arched windows on the top floor...outlined in deep, vibrant blue glazed terracotta." John Purroy Mitchell, mayor from 1914-17, lived here, as did inventor Charles E. Scribner (NNYMUWS). More recently, it's been home to Nobel-winning economist and Columbia prof Joseph Stiglitz.

250 Riverside Drive

250 (corner): The Victoria, nine floors from 1903, designed by George F. Pelham with a cylindrical corner. Here lived Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Blatch founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women and organized the city's first big suffrage parade in 1910.

W 97TH ST         ===> E

244 Riverside Drive

244 (corner): Six stories from 1900.

Cliff Dweller Skull

243 (corner): Cliff Dwelling apartments (1916), an assymetrical building designed by Herman Lee Meader with a frieze featuring Mayan-inspired bison skulls, cougars and rattlesnakes. Uwe Johnson, German author, lived here with his family from 1966 until 1968; his novel Anniversaries is set here.

W <===     WEST 96TH STREET     ===> E
The southern boundary of Bloomingdale

In the movie Vanilla Sky (2001), a deranged ex-girlfriend played by Cameron Diaz drives Tom Cruise off the road at this intersection.





Corner: Playground used by PS 75, the Emily Dickinson School, is on the site of No. 234, which was the home of Physical Culture advocate Bernarr Macfadden, who opened one of the first vegetarian restaurants in the country. 230 Riverside Drive

230 (corner): Charles H. Lench designed this 1931 building in Medieval revival style—complete with unobtrusive gargoyles. Humorist SJ Perelman, who co-wrote the screenplays for Around the World in 80 Days and the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business, was a resident here (NNYMUWS).

W <===     WEST 95TH STREET     ===> E


The sliver of parkland created by Riverside Drive dividing between 92nd and 95th streets is known as Joan of Arc Park.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (93) This statue of the French saint and teenage military leader was dedicated in 1915, inspired by the 500th anniversary of Joan's birth in 1912. It was the first monument in a New York City park dedicated to a nonfictional woman. Sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington also crafted the statue of Jose Marti on Central Park South. The pedestal incorporates stones from Reims Cathedral, which Joan recaptured from the English in 1429, and the dungeon in Rouen where she was held by the English before her execution.

Garden for All Seasons

A crab apple grove planted in 1937 that has been dedicated to remembering the sad and happy events of life.

91st Street Garden

91st Street Garden

This lush garden became the first community garden within a New York City park in 1981. It's the setting for the final scene in You've Got Mail between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. (photo: BB & HH)

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial

Temple of Fame A monument dedicated "to the memory of the brave soldiers and sailors who saved the Union." Designed by Stoughton & Stoughton, it was opened on Memorial Day 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and has been the site of Memorial Day commemorations ever since. Its last comprehensive repair effort was in 1962.

Riverside Park Onramp

Riverside Park Slope

Mount Tom

Mount Tom

This rocky outcropping was named by Edgar Allan Poe after Thomas Brennan, a boy whose family's farmhouse, at what is now 84th and Broadway, Poe was staying at in 1844. He would come here to gaze at the Hudson River, alone or with his wife Virginia, whose tuberculosis had prompted the couple's move to what was then the country.

Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Plaza

This plaza was dedicated in 1947 by Mayor William O'Dwyer to the residents of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw who rose up against a Nazi seige on April 19, 1943. It was one of the first memorials to the Holocaust in the United States; people gather here every year on April 19 to honor the uprising's heroes.

River Run Playground

Giant Sand Frog

This playground has a water feature modeled on the Hudson River and a sandbox bordered by sculptures of giant lizards, frogs, river gods, etc.

Riverside Park



227 Riverside Drive

227 (corner): This seven-story building dates to 1930 and was originally known as Avalon Hall.

224: A seven-story building from 1910.

223: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of "The Yellow Wallpaper," lived at this former address (NNYMUWS). 222 Riverside Drive

222 (corner): This 21-story condo was designed by Fox & Fowle and completed in 1989.

W 94TH ST         ===> E


214 (corner): Chatillion, a 1901 building named for a Parisian suburb whose name means "Little Castle" (and has only one I). Residents who have lived here include authors John Dos Passos (NNY) and Charlotte Perkins Gilman (who also lived up the street), architect J. Cleaveland Cady (who did the south wing of the American Museum of Natural History) and socialist mayoral candidate Morris Hillquit (NNYMUWS).

210 Riverside Drive

210 (corner): A 1910 building by Schwartz & Gross, originally called the Stratford Avon. Marcus Loew, who founded MGM and the Loew's cinema chain, was a tenant. Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) lives here in the 2008 film Baby Mama.

W 93RD ST         ===> E

202 Riverside Drive

202 (corner): Terrace Court dates to 1905. This was home to actor Alison Skipworth, best remembered for playing WC Fields' foil in four films (NNYMUWS).

200 Riverside Drive

200 (corner): A nine-story building from 1906.

W 92ND ST         ===> E

194 Riverside Turret

194 (corner): A 1902 apartment building by Ralph S. Townsend. Isaiah Sheffer, founder of Symphony Space, has lived here (NNYMUWS). This is Jennifer Anniston's apartment building in the 2010 rom-com The Switch.

190 Riverside Drive

190 (corner): A 1908 apartment building, also by Townsend, featuring a grand copper cornice. Actor Tea Leoni has lived here.

W 91ST ST         ===> E

This intersection is on the site of White Oaks Farm, owned by Henry Brockholst Livingston, appointed to the US Supreme Court in 1806.
187 Riverside Drive

186 (corner): A 15-story building by Emery Roth, from 1928.

180 Riverside Drive

180 (corner): A 13-story building by Schwartz & Gross, built in 1922 with a curved facade.

W 90TH ST         ===> E


173 Riverside Drive

173-175 (block): A 1926 building by JER Carpenter, with 167 apartments on 16 floors. Singer/actor Diahann Carroll lived here with her husband, actor Vic Damone.

W 89TH ST         ===> E


Isaac L. Rice Home

170 Riverside Drive

Corner (346 W 89th): A mansion built in 1903 for railroad lawyer Isaac Rice, originally called Villa Julia, after Rice's wife, Dr. Julia Barnett Rice, who was so annoyed by tugboats whistling in the river below her new home that she formed the Society for the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise. The red brick and white marble house was designed by Herts & Tallant, an architectural team known for theaters—notably the New Amsterdam. 170 Riverside Drive

The house was sold in 1907 to cigarette manufacturer Solomon Schinasi, who hired CPH Gilbert to expand it. His outer wall echoes the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial across the street.

It was sold again in 1954 yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, which in 1980 agreed to let a developer build a 30-story tower on the site, a plan nixed by the Landmarks Commission after a fierce fight. The Jewish school on the property now is that Yeshiva Ketana of Manhattan.

168: In later seasons of 30 Rock, Liz Lemon moves to this nonexistent address. 160 Riverside Drive

160 (corner): This 1929 building has an unusually angled corner. This was the home of New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, who was so influential that he still has a theater named after him on 47th Street. (NNY). In the sitcom 30 Rock, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) initially lives here.

W 88TH ST         ===> E

155 Riverside Drive

155 (corner): A 12-story building from 1910, designed by Schwartz & Gross. This was the boyhood home of Robert Oppenheimer, who grew up to design the atomic bomb; he moved here in 1912 when he was eight. Actor/model Margaux Hemingway has lived here. Will Truman lives here in the sitcom Will & Grace, as does Grace Adler for part of the series.

152: In the TV show Mad Men, copywriter Freddy Rumsen lives here, as does Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), who uses the screen name NY152, in the movie You've Got Mail (1998). There's no building at this number, and I don't think there has been since before the Mad Men era, but this used to be the address of the Merchant Marine Officer's Club, site of a sizable drug bust in 1921. 150 Riverside Drive

150 (corner): Riverside Premier Rehab & Healing Center was built sometime before 1928 as the Park Crescent residential hotel. Composer Kurt Weill and his wife, singer Lotte Lenya, lived here in 1936 after fleeing Nazi Germany; novelist Vladimir Nabokov lived here for a few weeks in 1959 (NNY). When it was converted into a nursing home in 1970, the operator was found to have cut many corners, and was later convicted of Medicaid fraud.

W 87TH ST         ===> E

The drive rests on an iron viaduct here as it passes over a natural cleft in the bedrock.

The Normandy

The Normandy II

140 (block): Moderne apartment building from 1938 by Emery Roth, who designed the similarly twin-towered San Remo and Beresford. Not named for the Normandy landings, which happened six years after this building was built, but for the Normandie, a stylish French ocean liner that caused a sensation when it first arrived in New York after crossing the Atlantic in four days in 1935. The Normandy

Residents here have included Herman Wouk, who later authored The Caine Mutiny; Herman Steinlauf, founder of Herman's Sporting Goods; advertising exec Jerry Della Femina; sports stadium subsidy critic Neil deMause; and Morris "Dimples" Wolensky, gambler and Murder Inc. bodyguard who was murdered in 1942 at a Times Square bridge club. Also here are the offices of the Association for Psychohistory.

W 86TH ST         ===> E

The Clarendon

The Clarendon

137 (corner): The 11-story Clarendon was built in 1906, and publisher William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) moved into the top three floors the following year. When the building owner balked at Hearst's request to buy two more floors, the media mogul bought the whole building. The suite he assembled included a three-story Gothic Hall to display his collection of armor and tapestries. When his affair with Marion Davies attracted the attention of rival papers, he built a bridge to an adjoining building on 86th Street so he could exit the building without confronting reporters.

His wife Millicent Willson Hearst continued living here after the couple separated, entertaining the likes of Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt. By 1940, with the Hearst empire in financial disarray, the building was foreclosed and the vast apartment subdivided into more rentable units.

Hollywood couple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick have lived here. 131 Riverside Drive

131 (corner): The Dorchester, a handsome 1909 building by Neville and Bagge, 12 stories tall. Press critic AJ Liebling lived here (NNY). In the film version of The Odd Couple, this is Oscar Madison's apartment building, where he takes in Felix Unger.

W 85TH ST         ===> E

354 West 85th Street

127 (corner): Eight floors, built 1910. AKA 354 West 85th Street.

120 (corner): Nine stories built by SB Ogden & Co. in 1907 as the Turrets Apartments.

W 84TH ST         ===> E

118 Riverside Drive

118 (corner): A 1928 building by Gronenberg & Leuchtag with 16 floors. Comedian couple Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara lived on the fifth floor here for half a century; their children Amy and Ben Stiller grew up here. Economist Paul Krugman bought an apartment here with his Nobel Prize money.

110 Riverside Drive

110 (corner): This address was built at the same time as No. 118 and appears to be part of the same building. Babe Ruth lived here from 1942 until his death in 1948. Art dealer Serge Sabarsky lived here, where he collected art by the likes of Klimt, Kandinsky and Klee; much of his collection ended up in the Neue Gallerie New York on Fifth Avenue.

W 83RD ST         ===> E

109 Riverside Drive

109 (corner): A c. 1899 Clarence True building that "crosses a crenellated eclectic body with a Gothic Revival entry" (AIA Guide).

103-105: These buildings, also by True, had to be redesigned because a lawsuit successfully held that their stoops and bay windows encroached onto public space.

100 Riverside Drive

100 (corner): Boak & Paris designed this 19-story apartment house, built in 1938. The apartments are noted for their sunken living rooms, which must have been ahead of their time in the late 1930s.

W 82ND ST         ===> E

98 Riverside Drive

98 (corner): A 15-story building by George F. Pelham that went up in 1929.

90 Riverside Drive

90 (corner): A 1926 building by Schwartz & Gross with 16 floors. Anti-Communist socialist Irving Howe lived here (NNY).

W 81ST ST         ===> E

86 Riverside Drive

86 (corner): "A dour and forbidding essay in rock-face granite," says the AIA Guide of this Clarence True building.

81-85: These houses, also by True, feature "stepped and serrated gables in brick and/or limestone."

80 Riverside Drive

80 (corner): Built in 1913, the Riverside Tower Hotel boasts that its prices are the "lowest of decent hotel rooms in New York City." At 17 stories, it does tower over its immediate neighbors. One of the very few non-residential properties on Riverside Drive.

W 80TH ST         ===> E

78 Riverside Drive

78 (corner): The houses from here to No. 74 are Clarence F. True designs from 1898–99.

74 Riverside Drive

75: Artist Marc Chagall is said to have lived here (NNY).

74: Features a Dutch gable.

70 Riverside Drive

70 (corner): A six-floor building from 1951.

W <===     WEST 79TH STREET     ===> E


Riverside Park

Robert Ray Hamilton Fountain

2021 Hamilton Fountain - Stone Bald Eagle Statue 5559 An ornate marble fountain featuring a eagle with wings spread and a dolphin intended to spout water into a basin. It's often described as a horse trough, though the part on Riverside Drive seems to have been intended to be purely ornamental; there was a basin suitable for watering beasts at the base of the retaining wall in the park below the fountain. (photo: Brecht Bug)

The fountain is dedicated to Robert Ray Hamilton (1851-90), a state assemblymember and great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton; Robert left $10,000 in his will for a fountain for the city. In January 1889, he had apparently been tricked into marrying a woman named Evangeline Steele, who was accused of buying a newborn baby for $10 that she passed off as hers and Hamilton's. (Two earlier babies procured for the scheme reportedly died for lack of breast milk.) The marriage was a short one, ending in August 1889 when Evangeline stabbed the baby's nurse in a quarrel. It came out that Evangeline was already married (or married-ish), and had cooked up the bought-baby plan with her husband, whom she generously supported with Hamilton's money.

To escape the scandal, Hamilton moved to Wyoming where he opened a hotel in Yellowstone and was soon found drowned, apparently murdered by his business partner. His Hamilton and Schuyler relatives went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to block the erection of the fountain, arguing that it would be better if posterity forgot him.

Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial

Eleanor Roosevelt

In the southeast corner of the park, serving as a grand entrance, is a statue of and monument to Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), wife of Franklin Roosevelt (and niece of Teddy) and a prominent advocate for civil and human rights. The statue, by Penelope Jencks, was dedicated in 1996 in a ceremony that included then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Earlier on this spot was a 1909 monument to the explorer Henry Hudson, commemorating the tricentennial of his expedition, that was destroyed when a truck hit it in the 1950s.





67 (corner): Riverdale, a nine-story 1907 effort by George F. Pelham in Beaux Arts style. Violinist Isaac Stern lived here starting in 1944, when he was 24 (NNY). 60 Riverside Drive

60 (corner): A 20-story building from 1965, designed by Wechsler & Schimenti. Tenants or subtenants have included Tom Cruise, Harry Belafonte and Mia Farrow.

W 78TH ST         ===> E

54 (corner): Made in 1929 with 16 floors. 50 Riverside Drive

50 (corner): A 16-story apartment building from 1930. In a townhouse previously at this address lived stage and silent film star Laurette Taylor, who starred in the debut of The Glass Menagerie, with her playwright husband J. Hartley Manners. Their dinner parties and elaborate games of charades attracted guests ranging from Alexander Woolcott to Douglas Fairbanks to Herbert Hoover. Noel Coward based his play Hay Fever on the couple.

W 77TH ST         ===> E

46 Riverside Drive

46 (corner): The AIA Guide calls this block "an extraordinary ensemble that blends strong Renaissance Revival cornices...with Amsterdam stepped gables," creating an "idiosyncratic medley." They were built from 1896–1899, designed by Clarence True.

Occupying a suite here is the Music of the Spheres Society, a project that combines chamber music with philosophical/scientific lectures. 39 Riverside Drive

40 (corner): A French Renaissance mansion designed in 1897 by Clarence True; its first residents were theater impressario Henry Miner and his second wife, the former actor Annie O'Neill. After Henry's death in 1900, the house was bought by steelmaker Alan W. Wood, a widower who also married a much younger actress—Goldie Mohr, who was the daughter of a former fiancee who had jilted Wood some 40 years earlier. When he died in 1905, the house was bought by clothier Max Brill.

In 1938, the house became the Riverside School. At some point it was turned into apartments, and then in 2013 back to a single-family home. Artist Marc Chagall is said to have lived here, though it's also said that's not true.

W 76TH ST         ===> E

37 Riverside Drive

37 (corner): A 1925 building by Schwartz & Gross with 16 floors. Homicidal real estate developer Robert Durst was living in a penthouse here with his wife Kathie when she disappeared in 1982; he was finally charged with her murder almost 40 years later, but died before he could be tried. 33 Riverside Driver

33 (corner): A 17-story building by George F. Pelham, built 1928. Songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin owned adjacent penthouses here, famous for their Jazz Age parties. In the 1975 movie Death Wish, the vigilante architect played by Charles Bronson lives here.

Previously on this site was the townhouse of architect CPH Gilbert (not Cass Gilbert, another famous architect with whom he is sometimes confused). Later composer Sergei Rachmaninoff lived in the house; Konstantin Stanislavsky and his Moscow Art Theatre stayed here when they visited New York in 1922-23.

W 75TH ST         ===> E

25 Riverside Drive

25 (corner): A Renaissance Revival townhouse designed by CPH Gilbert, the architect of eight other houses in the immediate vicinity. It was built in 1897 for Henry Hobart Vail, editor and chair of the American Book Company, publisher of the McGuffey Readers. In 1907 it was sold to engineer Charles Sooysmith, an engineer who helped build the New York subway system. From the 1980s until 2007, the Richmond Fellowship operated a halfway house here for people recovering from mental illness. Since then, it's been luxury apartments; one notable resident was Dina Wein Reis, convicted of fraud charges after convincing manufacturers to send her tens of millions worth of merchandise.

23-24: A pair of CPH Gilbert townhouses, completed in 1897. 22 Riverside Drive

22 (corner): A 19-story apartment tower, built 1931 to a Boak & Paris design.

W 74TH ST         ===> E

11 Riverside Driver I

11 (block): Schwab House, a 17-story building with 654 apartments, built in 1950. Replaced Riverside, the 75-room mansion of steel tycoon Charles M. Schwab, a cream-colored French chateau built in 1906 that Andrew Carnegie said "makes mine look like a shack." When Schwab died in 1939, he bequeathed the house to the city to use as a mayoral residence, but Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia rejected the gift, saying, Charles M. Schwab House "What me in that?" It was torn down in 1948. (This Charles Schwab was no relation to Charles R. Schwab, who founded the investment firm.)

From 1840 to 1900, this was the site of the Orphan Asylum Society of New York City.

W 73RD ST         ===> E

5 Riverside Drive

5 (corner): A 19-story Art Deco building from 1936. Liza Minnelli sings "Ring Them Bells," about a woman who travels to Europe to meet her dream man—who turns out to live in the next apartment in this building.

Kleeberg Mansion

3 Riverside Drive

3: A French (or Dutch?) Renaissance mansion designed by CPH Gilbert, built 1898 for Philip and Maria Kleeberg. Maria killed herself here in 1903 by drinking carbolic acid during a dinner party. The house was sold to mining heir William Guggenheim; he ran a boarding house here and later rented it to the Twilight Sleep Sanitarium, which specialized in a childbirth method that gave woman a drug to make them forget how painful it was.

2: Media critic Janine Jackson lived here in 1986.

1 Riverside Drive

1 (Riverside Dr): The Prentiss House, built in 1899 to a CPH Gilbert design. The house's bay windows follow the curve of the corner, and the odd lot gives the house a wedge-shaped garden it shares with 311 West 72nd Street.

1 Riverside/311 West 72nd

After Frederica Lloyd Prentiss, the last surviving member of the family that it was built for, died in 1955, the property briefly became home to the Nippon Club for Japanese businessmen—replacing a clubhouse seized during World War II—but by 1957 it became home to the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. Since 1991, it's been a satellite to the Center's main mosque on East 96th Street.

W <===     WEST 72ND STREET     ===> E

What am I missing on Riverside Drive? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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