|Location||Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States|
|Architect||Irwin S. Chanin, Jacques Delamarre|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|Part of||Central Park West Historic District (ID82001189)|
|Added to NRHP||November 9, 1982|
The Century is an apartment building located at Central Park West and 63rd Street in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City. It was constructed in 1931 at a cost of $6.5 million and designed by the firm of Irwin S. Chanin. The Century is designed in the Art Deco style, unlike many of its neighbors, which are designed in the Beaux-Arts style.
The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places, as a contributing property to the Central Park West Historic District, in 1982. The building, also part of a local historic district designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, is one of the three tallest structures within the boundaries of the district.
A tenant-landlord dispute at the Century was ongoing for most of the 1980s. By 2010, units in the building were being sold for millions of dollars.
The Century apartment building is located on the site of the Century Theatre at 25 Central Park West. Architect Irwin S. Chanin's office executed a US$1.25 million bond to guarantee the construction of a 29-floor apartment building at the theater site on October 25, 1930. The Century Theatre was initially backed by many wealthy New Yorkers but it quickly became unprofitable. The theater was still being demolished in late October 1930 when Chanin's firm secured a $6.5 million loan from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company for the construction of the Century. As the moves to begin the Century project were occurring, Chanin's The Majestic was already under construction nearby, in the 100 block of Central Park West.
Theater demolition pushed forward through early November. In the November 9, 1930 edition of the New York Times Irwin Chanin remarked regarding construction of The Majestic and the Century. He noted that, together, the two projects would employ a daily average of 3,000 men with rates of pay identical "those in vogue during the boom days of 1927 when we were erecting the Chanin Building." In January 1931, with demolition at the theater site winding down, a time capsule was pulled from the cornerstone of the Century Theatre. Among its contents was a congratulatory letter from U.S. President at the time of the theater's construction, Theodore Roosevelt.
The construction was handled by another Chanin company, Chanin Construction Company. Construction would require over 3 million feet (910,000 m) of electrical wiring, three times what was required for the 56-story Chanin Building. By October 1930 it was predicted that the building would be complete by October 31, 1931. Construction began in April 1931, and by the end of the next month, the steel structure for the Century was complete up to its 15th floor. Within thirty days the entire steel structure was complete. The rapid progress was made possible by, according to Irwin Chanin "coordination and overlapping of various trades employed." A June 1931 newspaper article reported that the average number of workers since the beginning of construction was 1,050, with up to 1,400 employed at one time. Original predictions, by Chanin, estimated 1,500 men would be employed, on average per day, for a period of one year during construction. By September 1931 work on the Century was nearing completion and apartments were already being offered for rent.
The building was purchased in 1982 by an investment group, which proposed 13 months later to create a cooperative corporation for the Century. The proposal offered to sell the building, purchased for $36 million, to the tenants for $110 million. That proposal was quickly nixed by the New York State Attorney General's office but it engendered a long running "kill or be killed relationship" between the building's tenants and its owners. In 1983 tenants accused owners of neglecting to maintain the property and sought court action against the owners. Lawyers representing about 200 tenants described the building as a slum "with crumbling walls both inside and out, vermin infestation, extensive leaks, and virtually everything else that can go wrong with a structure."
The move was one in a tenant-owner dispute that would last until 1989 when an agreement was finally reached. The New York Times called the dispute, "one of the longest, bitterest conversion fights in Manhattan apartment house history." It ended with a compromise that allowed tenants in 229 of the 410 apartments to purchase their apartments at prices which were estimated to be one half or one third the market rate. By February 1989 several of the apartments new owners had sold their individual properties at profits exceeding $1 million. The investment group that purchased the building in 1982, Century Apartment Associates, saw their investment rise in value from $36 million to around $140 million.
In the 21st century, as it has been historically, the Century is largely an upscale apartment house. In May 2010 six bedroom apartments in the Century sold for around $19 million with one bedrooms selling for between $875,000 and $1.675 million.
"[A] sophisticated essay in Art Deco design exhibiting a complex balance of horizontal and vertical elements.— NYC Landmarks Commission
The Century, along with its one-year-older sister building, The Majestic, was among the first residential buildings to use what had been predominantly an office building style of architecture. Both the Century and The Majestic stand 30-stories and their Art Deco motifs stand in contrast to the Beaux-Arts buildings that surround them. The building was designed by the Office of Irwin S. Chanin, with Architectural Director Jacques Delamarre at the head of the design team. It was then constructed in 1930 and/or 1931, sources vary slightly.
The Century features art deco "machine-inspired" towers and cantilevered floor slabs. The floor slabs prevent the necessity of corner columns thus allowing the building to be fitted with large corner windows. The three ornate entrances face Central Park West, 62nd, and 63rd Streets. During the 1980s the building held 410 apartments, ranging in size from one to eight bedrooms; 52 of the apartments had large terraces. The main lobby, on the ground floor, houses professional offices.
The building is a contributing property to the Central Park West Historic District, which was recognized by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places when its nomination was accepted on November 9, 1982. It is one of four "twin-towered" structures in the historic district, including The Eldorado, The San Remo, and The Majestic. Collectively these buildings contribute to the unique skyline of the Upper West Side along Central Park West. The Century was designated a local landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on July 10, 1985. The designation subjects improvements and changes to the property to various local regulations and rules administered by the Landmarks Commission. Upon its designation as a local landmark the Commission staff remarked that the Century was a "sophisticated essay in Art Deco design exhibiting a complex balance of horizontal and vertical elements." At 30 floors it and two other structures hold the title of the tallest building in the federally designated Central Park West Historic District. The height of the buildings were shaped primarily by the Multiple Dwelling Act of 1929 which allowed apartment buildings no higher than 19 stories. The law provided an exclusion for taller buildings, such as the Century, if a building site was sufficiently large and the building itself occupied no more than 20% of the site.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- Brockmann, Jorg et al. (2002). One Thousand New York Buildings, p. 337, at Google Books
- "$1,250,000 Chanin Bond Executed". The New York Times. October 26, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "$750,000 For Site of Century Theatre; That Was Price Paid in 1906 and Land Is Now Assessed at $2,100,000". The New York Times. November 16, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "To Erect 29-Story House; Twin-Tower Apartments Will Replace 12 Structures on Plot of 35,000 Square Feet". The New York Times. October 30, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "Central Park West Showing Activity; Two Large Residential Operations Under Way by Chanin Concern". The New York Times. November 9, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "To Open Century Cornerstone Today". The New York Times. January 20, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "Steelwork Completed; Frame of the Century Apartments Finished in Thirty Days". The New York Times. June 21, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "$6,500,000 Loan on Century Site; Wreckers Begin Razing Theatre on Central Park West for Thirty-Story Apartment". The New York Times. October 24, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "New Apartments Renting Up Well; Encouraging Reports From Broker on Demand for West Side Suites". The New York Times. April 5, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "Work Being Pushed on West Side Houses; Rapid Progress on the Century and Majestic Apartments on Central Park West". The New York Times. May 24, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "Apartment Renting on the West Side; Nineteen New Houses Opening This Season With Excellent Tenant Occupancy". The New York Times. September 13, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- Lyons, Richard D. (February 19, 1989). "At Last, the Battle of the Century Ends". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- Tomasson, Robert E. (May 8, 1983). "Troubles for the Century on Central Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- "The Century, 25 Central Park West, NYC - Condo Apartments". www.cityrealty.com. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- Lehman, Arnold. "New York Skyscrapers: The Jazz Modern Neo-American Beautilitarian Style," The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 29, No. 8. (April 1971), pp. 363–370. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
- Central Park West Historic District, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, New York's State and National Registers of Historic Places Document Imaging Project, New York State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
- Dunlap, David W. (November 2, 2001). "Even Now, A Skyline Of Twins". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- Berger, Joseph (July 11, 1985). "New York Stock Exchange Among 6 Buildings Gaining Landmark Status". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
- Brockmann, Jorg and Bill Harris. (2002). One Thousand New York Buildings. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. ISBN 978-1-57912-237-9; OCLC 48619292
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Century (New York City).|
- The Century from CityRealty