The Dragon House on West 76th Street

I was scouting around the West 70’s over by Riverside Drive when I saw this really, really interesting building ornamented in an incredible dragon motif (map link):

Dragon House 01

It’s literally covered in dragons, starting with these lining the balcony, each with its own shield:

Dragon House 02

Dragon House 03

These two look like they’re sharing a joke:

Dragon House 04

Then, beautifully nestled in the fauna is this dragon above the second floor window:

Dragon House 05

This flowing relief above the first floor window feels like it could have been a title page centerpiece in a book on mythology:

Dragon House 06

Finally, above the front door…

Dragon House 07

…are these cute little guys. I think they’re different, which is pretty impressive when they could’ve just used the same design.

Dragon House 08

I would love to know what inspired this – maybe the medieval castle-ish turret/balcony?

Finally, this is a great example of what idiots with zero sense of taste do to amazing buildings like this. See the original roof line on the left? Nice fucking addition.

Dragon House 09

It looks like they removed what was probably once a beautiful roof, lopped off a piece of the balcony, and built an addition, complete with US-government-building-style yellow brick. Compare the pathetic decorative blocks at the top with the craftsmanship below; if you shuddered, you’re one of the good guys.


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  1. I guess square footage beats out style in this case.

  2. compromised integrity of gorgeous buildings like this is illegal in Venice…somewhere on the planet people are sensitive to art and flourish…amerika not so much…

  3. Oh, gosh, those dragons are beautiful! But that upper-storey addition ought to be against the law. I see that a lot on West End Ave in the ’80s and ’90s (where a friend and I do our morning walks when weather renders Riverside Park impassable). Just hideous upper-storey additions that make no effort to blend with the original. I can’t even begin to imagine who would think that’s a good idea…

  4. I don’t think those are dragons. Rather, I believe they are griffins (gryphons), fantasy creatures that were reputedly a mixture of lions and eagles. In early Christianity they were a symbol of Christ, a being both human and divine. They also have a long history of heraldic and architectural use.

  5. You know, what’s interesting, that you can kind of see in the 2nd and 3rd photos, is that they seem to have tried to match the brick of the original house.

    And yet: FAIL.

  6. The people who did this should be shot. Especially the architect.

  7. Sort of like what they did with the Hearst Building. Phu Yuk

  8. Look what they did to the door? Could that be any uglier? I bet the people who live/work there could not even tell you whats on the outside…..shame shame….

  9. I shuddered. I can’t believe they were allowed to do that.

    But thanks for pointing out this building, I live nearby and will go have a look-see (and avoid looking further up than the 3rd floor)