The Ansonia

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Ansonia Hotel
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The Ansonia Hotel on Broadway at the intersection with Amsterdam Avenue (image from 1905)
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Location2101–2119 Broadway, New York, New York
Coordinates 40°46′48″N73°58′57″W / 40.78000°N 73.98250°W / 40.78000; -73.98250 Coordinates: 40°46′48″N73°58′57″W / 40.78000°N 73.98250°W / 40.78000; -73.98250
Arealess than one acre
ArchitectDuboy, Paul E.M.
Architectural styleBeaux Arts
NRHP reference # 80002665 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 10, 1980
Designated NYCLMarch 14, 1972

The Ansonia is a building on the Upper West Side of New York City, located at 2109 Broadway, between West 73rd and West 74th Streets. It was originally built as a residential hotel by William Earle Dodge Stokes, the Phelps-Dodge copper heir and shareholder in the Ansonia Clock Company, and it was named for his grandfather, the industrialist Anson Greene Phelps. In 1897, Stokes commissioned French architect Paul Emile Duboy to design the grandest hotel in Manhattan. [2]

Upper West Side Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

The Upper West Side, sometimes abbreviated UWS, is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, bounded by Central Park and the Hudson River, and West 59th Street and West 110th Street.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Broadway (Manhattan) Avenue in New York

Broadway is a road in the U.S. state of New York. Broadway runs from State Street at Bowling Green for 13 mi (21 km) through the borough of Manhattan and 2 mi (3.2 km) through the Bronx, exiting north from the city to run an additional 18 mi (29 km) through the municipalities of Yonkers, Hastings-On-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, and Tarrytown, and terminating north of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.


Stokes would list himself as "architect-in-chief" for the project and hired Duboy, a sculptor who designed and made the ornamental sculptures on the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, to draw up the plans. New Orleans architect Martin Shepard served as draftsman and assistant superintendent of construction on the project. [3] The assignee of the contractor proceed against Stokes in 1907, suing for $90,000. But Stokes would defend himself, explaining that Duboy was in an insane asylum in Paris, and it was his belief that he was insane when, in 1903, he signed the final certificate on the plans, and should not have been making commitments in Stokes's name concerning the hotel. [4] [5]

In what might be the earliest harbinger of the current developments in urban farming, [6] Stokes established a small farm on the roof of the hotel, where he kept farm animals next to his personal apartment. There was a cattle elevator, which enabled dairy cows to be stabled on the roof. [7]

Cattle domesticated form of Aurochs

Cattle—colloquially cows—are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos taurus.

Stokes had a Utopian vision for the Ansonia—that it could be self-sufficient, or at least contribute to its own support—which led to perhaps the strangest New York apartment amenity ever. "The farm on the roof," Weddie Stokes wrote years later, "included about 500 chickens, many ducks, about six goats and a small bear." Every day, a bellhop delivered free fresh eggs to all the tenants, and any surplus was sold cheaply to the public in the basement arcade. Not much about this feature charmed the city fathers, however, and in 1907, the Department of Health shut down the farm in the sky. [8]


The Ansonia was a residential hotel. The residents lived in "luxurious" apartments with multiple bedrooms, parlors, libraries, and formal dining rooms that were often round or oval. Apartments featured views north and south along Broadway, high ceilings, "elegant" moldings, and bay windows. There were three thousand rooms. Arrangements could be made to rent a suite varying in size from a room and a bath to thirty rooms. Some of these suites were rented for $14,000 a year, [9] the equivalent of more than $400,000 in 2018. The smaller units, with one bedroom, parlor, and bath, lacked kitchens. There was a central kitchen and serving kitchens on every floor, so that the residents could enjoy the services of professional chefs while dining in their own apartments. Besides the usual array of tearooms, restaurants, and a grand ballroom, the Ansonia had Turkish baths and a lobby fountain with live seals.

Chef person that directs preparation of meals

A chef is a trained professional cook who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation, often focusing on a particular cuisine. The word "chef" is derived from the term chef de cuisine, the director or head of a kitchen. Chefs can receive formal training from an institution, as well as by apprenticing with an experienced chef.

Pinniped Infraorder of mammals

Pinnipeds, commonly known as seals, are a widely distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, semiaquatic marine mammals. They comprise the extant families Odobenidae, Otariidae, and Phocidae. There are 33 extant species of pinnipeds, and more than 50 extinct species have been described from fossils. While seals were historically thought to have descended from two ancestral lines, molecular evidence supports them as a monophyletic lineage. Pinnipeds belong to the order Carnivora and their closest living relatives are believed to be bears and the superfamily of musteloids, having diverged about 50 million years ago.

Erected between 1899 and 1904, it was the largest residential hotel of its day and the first air-conditioned hotel in New York. The building has an eighteen-story steel-frame structure. The exterior is decorated in the Beaux-Art style with a Parisian style mansard roof. The Ansonia features round corner-towers or turrets and an open stairwell that sweeps up to a domed skylight.

Air conditioning Process of altering the properties of air to more favourable conditions

Air conditioning is the process of removing heat and moisture from the interior of an occupied space to improve the comfort of occupants. Air conditioning can be used in both domestic and commercial environments. This process is most commonly used to achieve a more comfortable interior environment, typically for humans and other animals; however, air conditioning is also used to cool and dehumidify rooms filled with heat-producing electronic devices, such as computer servers, power amplifiers, and to display and store some delicate products, such as artwork.

Steel frame Part of civil engineering

Steel frame is a building technique with a "skeleton frame" of vertical steel columns and horizontal I-beams, constructed in a rectangular grid to support the floors, roof and walls of a building which are all attached to the frame. The development of this technique made the construction of the skyscraper possible.

Beaux-Arts architecture Expresses the academic neoclassical architectural style

Beaux-Artsarchitecture was the academic architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century. It drew upon the principles of French neoclassicism, but also incorporated Gothic and Renaissance elements, and used modern materials, such as iron and glass. It was an important style in France until the end of the 19th century. It also had a strong influence on architecture in the United States, because of the many prominent American architects who studied at the Beaux-Arts, including Henry Hobson Richardson, John Galen Howard, Daniel Burnham, and Louis Sullivan.

Ansonia Hotel Ansonia Hotel.jpg
Ansonia Hotel

The building's copper cornices were removed during World War II and melted down for the war effort. [10]

The Ansonia has had many celebrated residents, including baseball player Babe Ruth; writer Theodore Dreiser, in 1912; the leader of the Bahá'í Faith `Abdu'l-Bahá; Nobel prize winner in literature Isaac Bashevitz Singer; conductor Arturo Toscanini; composer Igor Stravinsky; fashion designer Koos van den Akker; and Italian tenor Enrico Caruso.

By the mid-twentieth-century, the grand apartments had mostly been divided into studios and one-bedroom units, almost all of which retained their original architectural detail. After a short debate in the 1960s, a proposal to demolish the building was fought off by its many musical and artistic residents.

From 1977 until 1980, The Ansonia Hotel's basement was home to Plato's Retreat, an open door swinger sex club. In 1985, then Mayor Ed Koch shut the club down due to "health concerns" for "public safety." Prior to Plato's Retreat, the building housed the Continental Baths, operated by Steve Ostrow, a gay bathhouse where Bette Midler provided musical entertainment early in her career, with Barry Manilow as her accompanist. [11] [12] [13]

In 1980, the building was inducted to the National Register of Historic Places. [1]

In 1992, the Ansonia was converted to a condominium apartment building with 430 apartments. By 2007, most of the rent-controlled apartment tenants had moved out, and the small apartments were sold to buyers who purchased clusters of small apartments and threw them together to recreate grand apartments.

The Ansonia is home to part of the New York campus of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.


Helen Godman (1919) calling herself "Alice" Helen Julia (Buda) Godman -1919.jpg
Helen Godman (1919) calling herself "Alice"

Notable residents

Famous former residents include
Famous present residents include


Children living in the Ansonia are eligible to attend schools run by the New York City Department of Education. The building is zoned to P.S. 87, the William Sherman School, but it is unzoned for middle school. Residents of the Ansonia may contact Region 10 to determine the middle-school assignments.

See also

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  3. Shepard, Martin. Undated resume. Martin Shepard Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.
  4. A West Side Developer's Other Side = New York Times – August 28, 2005
  5. "Summary: Contesting a final Certificate on the Ground of Insanity". The American Architect and Building News. New York: James R. Osgood & Co. (published 1907). 91 (1628): 198. May 18, 1907. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  6. "5 Urban Design Proposals for 3D City Farms". March 24, 2008. Retrieved December 21, 2009.
  7. "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)" (Searchable database). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation . Retrieved March 1, 2016.Note: This includes David J. Framberger and Joan R. Olshansky (July 1979). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Ansonia Hotel" (PDF). Retrieved March 1, 2016. and Accompanying nine photographs
  8. The Building of the Upper West Side = New York Magazine – May 21, 2005
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  20. Documentary film Elusive Muse, by Anne Belle
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