I have to admit, when I saw the incredible two-story mansard roof of 881 Broadway (at 19th Street) illuminated from a nearby rooftop recently…
…the first thing that came to mind was the Addams Family mansion:
881 Broadway / 115 Fifth Ave has always been one of my favorite buildings in Manhattan for its rooftop design.
Riddled with sharp angles and abrupt curves, its gothic flourishes are both menacing and haunting (despite a Victoria’s Secret on the ground level).
The building actually covers an entire city block, claiming at least three different addresses (881 Broadway, 115 Fifth Ave, 10 East 19th Street). Unfortunately, as you can see below, much of the first level was gutted at some point:
Below is the Broadway side. Although it’s pretty spectacular from the ground, I’ve always felt it was a bit too far away to fully appreciate .
As it happens, I recently had the chance to go on the roofs of a few neighboring buildings to see it up close, and wanted to share my pictures. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this.
I would love to see the room inside that raised portion of the roof:
The intricate iron fence winding its way around the perimeter is a really great touch:
The building was designed by architect Griffith Thomas in 1868 for Arnold Constable & Co., a dry-goods company. Over the following years, it was expanded into a full-fledged department store servicing such elite families as the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. Read a full history here.
I love the twirling design work above the windows, and the ovular windows piggybacking right on top:
The Fifth Ave corner – note the brick chimney with the pipe addition on the left. Was it once attached to a working fireplace?
A closer look. I would also love to have a look in those corner turrets:
What never ceases to amaze me is the fact that the architect must have known the top level would be very difficult to take-in from the street, especially with the surrounding buildings, and yet put the effort in anyway.