55 Central Park West
55 Central Park West is a 19-floor housing cooperative located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City. The building was designed by the architectural firm Schwartz & Gross, and built in 1929. The building is a contributing property within the Central Park West Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
55 Central Park West
55 Central Park West, with
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church next door
|Location||Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA|
|Architect||Schwartz & Gross|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|Part of||Central Park West Historic District (#82001189)|
|Added to NRHP||November 9, 1982|
Plans for the building, between 65th and 66th Streets, were filed by architectural firm Schwartz & Gross at the behest of Victor Earle and John C. Calhoun, for whom they were working. Earle, and his brother Guyon, had been actively developing the Upper West Side of New York City since the 1910s.
The structure is considered to be mostly "second tier" by the socialite New Yorkers who occupy most of the buildings along Central Park West. It was opened as a rental property in 1930. Its neighbor to the south is the earlier Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Upon its opening Real Estate magazine praised it as resembling "Jungfrau, that most beloved snowcapped Alpine peak."
Musician Rudy Vallee and industrial designer Raymond Loewy were two of the building's earliest residents. Ginger Rogers was one of its residents during her Broadway days in the early 1930s. Hat designer Lilly Dache with husband Jean Despres of Coty Perfume were residents following their 1931 marriage until 1935. Other residents of the building have included Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Noel Ashman, Ring Lardner, Jr., and Marsha Mason. The duplex penthouse on the 19th and 20th floors was owned by composer Jerry Herman in the 1970s, before he sold it for $1 million to Klein (who later sold it, and then bought it again in the 1990s). David Geffen later purchased it for $6 million, before selling it for $8.6 million to music executive Steve Gottlieb, who in turn listed it the week his record label TVT Records filed for bankruptcy. He sold the apartment to Marc Lasry (co-founder and CEO of the Avenue Capital Group) for $33 million in 2014.
When the building opened in 1930 it had apartments ranging from three to nine rooms, the largest of which had four bedrooms. The apartments featured a dropped living room, developed by the Earle brothers, which set the interior apart from most others constructed around the same period. An original rental brochure shows the dropped living room nearly entirely open to the entrance gallery; traditionally the gallery was held as a different room.
The exterior of the building is somewhat non-traditional. As the brick facade rises from the ground it changes shade from deep purple to yellow-white. Color was widely used during the 1920s as a tool in architecture for overall effects. The rental brochure stated: "new modernistic design of exterior with beautiful shaded color scheme". The New Yorker's architecture critic, George S. Chappell, praised the building's use of color, said, "the total effect is exhilarating."
The building is a contributing property to the Central Park West Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 1982. It is also a contributing property to the New York City's Upper West Side / Central Park West local historic district. Benjamin Schwarz, writing for The Atlantic, said of the buildings along Central Park West, "no endeavor on earth is more arduous than getting into one of these buildings," and specifically cited the "details of Donna Karan's deal for her digs at 55 Central Park West."
The building holds significance in American popular culture as it was prominently featured in the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters. In the film, "550 Central Park West" was the residence of the Ghostbusters' first client, cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). They later learn it was designed and constructed by insane architect and surgeon Ivo Shandor, who founded and led a secret society in 1920, The Cult of Gozer. Consisting of over a thousand followers, The Cult was dedicated to the worship of Gozer the Gozerian, an ancient, ultra-powerful, apocalyptic entity first worshipped by the Hittites, the Mesopotamians and the Sumerians. The members of The Gozerian Cult were the original occupants of the apartment building, which Shandor had devised as a modern-day ziggurat. They performed bizarre rituals on the roof as early as 1920 (the actual building, however, was not built until 1929), seeking to summon Gozer The Destructor and end the world. Since Ghostbusters first hit theaters, 55 Central Park West has been known as the "Ghostbusters Building" or - as it was referred to by Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) – "Spook Central"; it was portrayed much taller and with the rooftop temple, via the eight floors that were added to exterior shots of it via matte painting by Production designer/Art director John DeCuir. The Gozerian Temple consisted of its massive, ornate shrine, altars, obelisks and the iconic Terror Dog statues depicting demigods Zuul The Gatekeeper and Vinz Clortho The Keymaster.
- National Park Service (July 9, 2010). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- White, Norval, and Elliot Willensky. AIA Guide to New York City. New York: Crown, 2000. Print.
- Gray, Christopher (July 11, 1999). "Streetscapes / 55 Central Park West; The Changing Colors of an Art Deco Landmark". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- Gaines, Steven (November 7, 2005). One Apartment, 75 Years". New York. Retrieved April 3, 2007.
- Geoffrey Lynch. Manhattan Classic: New York's Finest Prewar Apartments.
- Schwarz, Benjamin (May 2005). "Eminent Domains". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 3, 2007.
- Finn, Robin (October 19, 2012). "Exclusive: 55 Central Park West – Coveted by Many, Lived In by Few". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- "Marc Lasry Pays $33 Million For a Duplex Penthouse on Manhattan’s Central Park West", Jewish Business News.
- "Central Park West’s Priciest Listing—Now You See It, Now You Don’t", Observer.
- "Central Park West Historic District". (Java), National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, New York's State and National Register of Historic Places Document Imaging Project, New York State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved April 3, 2007.[dead link]
- Aykroyd, Dan; Ramis, Harold; Reitman, Ivan (Director). Ghostbusters (Film). New York City: Columbia Pictures., June 8, 1984.
- Wallace, Daniel (October 27, 2015). Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, Insight Editions. San Rafael, California. p. 31-32, 38-39, 48. ISBN 978-1608875108