London Terrace

 

 

London Terrace

 

London Terrace is an apartment building complex in the neighborhood of Chelsea, Manhattan. This building complex was constructed from 1929 to 1930. At the time, it was the largest apartment building in the world. It encompasses an entire city block bounded by 9th Avenue to the east, 10th Avenue to the west, West 23rd Street to the south, and 24th Street to the north. It contains about 1,700 apartments in 14 contiguous buildings, between 17 and 19 stories high.

The old London Terrace houses and the Chelsea Cottages, in the rear on 24th Street, were constructed in 1845 and succeeding years on the same site of the current London Terrace.

The location of the current London Terrace was selected by Henry Mandel who leased the property in March, 1929. The old London Terrace and the Chelsea Cottages, were demolished in phases from May, 1929 to about July 1930. The cornerstone of the new London Terrace was laid on December 17, 1929. To finance its construction, Mandel founded two separate companies and $5.5 million bonds were issued for each one: the "End Units" (now London Terrace Towers) and the "Garden Units" (now London Terrace Gardens).

The complex of 14 buildings was designed by Victor C. Farrar of the architectural firm Farrar & Watmough. The complex included restaurants, swimming pool, gymnasium, garage, a garden and other facilities.

The first two buildings were ready for occupancy in May 1930 (455 and 460 West Twenty-third Street). The New York Times (May 11, 1930) wrote: "About 70 per cent of the 194 apartments to be opened this week have been rented, according to Charles Weingart of the Mandel companies. Of the 970 apartments to be ready by Sept. 1 about 40 per cent have been leased, including a large proportion of the professional suites on the ground floors of both the street and garden frontages."

The complex was completed by the end of 1930. The 14 units are separated above ground floor, but connected by underground walkways.

In an interview to the New York Times, published on February 22, 1931, Farrar said: "we already have in our city some encouraging examples of what we shall see in the future. The symptoms of real art are discernible. However, I believe that the most striking advances will come in the development of entire blocks for civic, business and residential projects. With Manhattan life becoming more complicated and transportation already a serious question, we are going to see the planning and execution of large-scale projects. Although our skyscrapers may go higher, I believeve we are going to witness a spreading out. John D. Rockefeller Jr. has planned a veritable city within a city in the heart of midtown Manhattan, while Henry Mandel is bringing to completion in West Twenty-third Street the world's largest apartment construction, the London Terrace edifices, these occupying an entire city block."

However, Henry Mandel went into bankruptcy in the early 1932 and the Irving Trust Company was appointed as receiver by a federal judge. The London Terrace fell into default in May 1933. In 1934, about 94% of the units were rented, but the The financial problems were not resolved until the 1940s.

Nowadays it is operated by two different entities: The London Terrace Towers, a co-op managed by Douglas Elliman Property Management and The London Terrace Gardens, a rental building managed by Rose Associates Inc.

 

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Copyright © Geographic Guide - Historic Buildings in NYC.

 

London Terrace in Old Chelsea, the largest apartment house in the world. Vintage postcard (C.T. Art-Colortone / Curt Teich & Co.), postmark 1938. Text on print: London Terrace, New York City, occupies the entire block between 9th and 10th Avenue and 23rd and 24th Street. It consists of 4110 rooms, divided into 1670 apartments. Its resident population is between 3,000 and 4,000 persons.

 

 

London Terrace Gardens

 

West 23rd Street with London Terrace on the left, February 1943. Photo by John Vachon (1914-1975). Source: Library of Congress.

 

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Tenth Avenue

 

Ansonia

 

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NYC London Terrace

 

23rd Street

 

Illustration of the London Terrace Gardens published in 1937 in the London Terrace News.

 

West Side Manhattan

 

Chelsea Cottages

 

Old London Terrace

 

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NY Gardens

 

Aerial view of the London Terrace in Midtown Manhattan, 1939.

 

Midtown Manhattan

 

West 24th Street

 

Madison Square

 

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St. Denis Hotel

 

London Terrace

 

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