Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (2024)

Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (1)Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (2)

New York City’s Fifth Avenue for almost 200 years has been considered the center of wealth and glamour in New York City. What began as an undeveloped parcel of land in 1785 quickly developed into one of the wealthiest areas of the country as development of the city pushed northward. Between 59th and 78th Streets, rich New Yorkers like Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Jacob Astor purchased and built extravagant homes along Fifth Avenue, some valued at over $150 million today. Use our nifty interactive tool to drag between then and now with these lost Gilded mansions on Fifth Avenue’s Millionaire’s Row.

Although most were demolished in the 1920s due to rapid urbanization and construction of skyscrapers and the advent of income taxes, some still remain, while remnants of others are scattered throughout the city. For those that were demolished, however, department stores and office buildings have obscured this history. The elaborate, ornate mansions that would serve as party spaces for elite have transformed into retailers selling chocolate and clothes to tourists.

Vanderbilt Triple Palace

Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (3)Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (4)

In 1882, William Henry Vanderbilt, the eldest son of Cornelius Vanderbilt, bought an entire block between 51st and 52nd Streets where he built the “Triple Palaces.” The three nearly identical brownstone homes were for himself and his wife, along with his two daughters, Emily and Margaret. Another wealthy New Yorker, Henry Clay Frick, reportedly said “That is all I shall ever want” on a drive past the Triple Palaces. Frick would rent out one of the palaces on a 10-year lease, but he could not buy the house due to William H. Vanderbilt’s will, which barred George Vanderbiltfrom selling the home and art outsideof the family.

Today, skyscrapers stand in place of the palaces. Where once there were ballrooms and drawing rooms, there are now retailerslike H&M, Godivaand Juicy Couture.

William K. Vanderbilt House

Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (5)Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (6)

Affectionately known as thePetit Chateau, the William K. Vanderbilt House was a Châteauesque mansion at 660 Fifth Avenue closer to the start of Millionaire’s Row. Vanderbilt’s wife Alva worked with the mansion’s architect, Richard Morris Hunt, to create a French Renaissance-style home of her dreams. Thousands of people attended Alva’s fancy-dress ball at the mansion in March 1883.

Themansion was demolished in 1926 after being sold to a real estate developer and in its stead rose 666 Fifth Avenue, an office tower. Today, the building serves as offices for many law firms like Schiff Hardin, as well as retail brands like Hollister Co. and Uniqlo.

Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion

Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (7)Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (8)

The Cornelius Vanderbilt II House was a large mansion built in 1883 at 1 West 57th Street in the heart of Millionaire’s Row, constructed for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the eldest grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II was allegedlythelargest single-family house in New York Cityat the time. Feeling that others were trying to outdo his house, the Cornelius Vanderbilts hired George B. Post to design the new mansion. They later enlisted Alva’s favorite architect Richard Morris Hunt to help Post make the mansion even larger in the 1890s.

Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s wife Alice was forced to sell the home in 1926 due to large commercial development projects nearby. After it was demolished, a realty corporation in its place built theBergdorf Goodmandepartment store, which still stands there today.The luxury department store stretches the whole block, undergoing a major restoration in 2002. Remnants of the mansion are also scattered around Manhattan,including the front gates that are now in Central Park, sculptural reliefs now in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, and a grand fireplace now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Mrs. William B. Astor House

Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (9)Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (10)

Back in 1854, William Backhouse Astor Jr. gifted his wife Caroline Astor a parcel of land at 34th Street and 5th Avenue, on which one of the first 5th Avenue mansions was built. In comparison to the modest and reserved 34th Street mansion, Caroline Astor’s second home on 65th Street and 5th Avenue was more fashionable. Hunt, the beloved architect of other Gilded Age mansions, was hired to design Caroline’s new home. The interior was divided into two separate living spaces, one for herself and one for her son John Jacob Astor.

John Jacob Astor took over his mother’s portion of the mansion but soon after died aboard the RMS Titanic, which led the family to give up the mansion. The property was sold to developers, and today theTemple Emanu-Elstands in its place. The temple is actually the largest Reform temple in the world and one of the largest of any Jewish denomination, measuringan impressive 103 feet high and 100 feet wide.

The William A. Clark Mansion

Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (11)Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (12)

Dubbed “Clark’s Folly,” the William A. Clark mansion at 960 Fifth Avenueat the more northern end of Millionaire’s Row cost an astonishing $6 million to build at the time, or about $150 million today. The mansion consisted of 121 rooms, 31 baths, four art galleries, a swimming pool, a concealed garage, and an underground rail line to bring in heating coal. The mansion was constructed in 1911, but the “Copper King” only had 14 years in the space before his death.

The mansion was sold in 1927 for less than $3 million dollars, or about half of its construction price, and was promptly demolished, making it one of themost short-lived buildings in New York City. The mansion was replaced by a 12-story luxury condo building designed byRosario Candela.

You can uncover even more stories of the forgotten Gilded Age 5th Avenue Mansions in ourLost New Yorkvirtual talk today!It will be in the video archive viewable toUntapped New York Insiders).

Lost NY: Mansions of Fifth Avenue


Next, check out more Gilded Age 5th Avenue Mansions!

Then and Now: Millionaire's Row Mansions of Fifth Avenue - Untapped New York (2024)


What happened to the mansions on 5th Avenue? ›

The buildings, considered anachronistic, were demolished and replaced by skyscrapers. Today, they are home to retailers H&M, Godiva, and Juicy Couture, while Frick's art collection and mansion remain intact (including the secret bowling alley underground) on 70th Street and 5th Avenue.

What happened to Millionaire's Row in Manhattan? ›

Few single-family mansions remain on what was originally known as Millionaire's Row. Those that weren't knocked down in the early 20th century have largely been converted to institutional use.

What happened to the old mansions in New York? ›

Some estates were left vacant and fell into disrepair, while others were repurposed for institutional use, such as schools or museums. When the Great Depression struck, mansions were torn down or sold due to financial strain. Urban development also fueled the demise of the Gilded Age mansions in the mid-20th century.

What happened to the Vanderbilt mansions in New York? ›

It occupied the frontage along the west side of Fifth Avenue from West 57th Street up to West 58th Street at Grand Army Plaza. The home was sold in 1926 and demolished to make way for the Bergdorf Goodman department store. David H. King, Jr.

Who bought the $500 million dollar house in LA? ›

It did not receive an offer and went to a bankruptcy auction in March 2022, where it sold to Richard Saghian, the CEO of Fashion Nova, for $126 million plus a 12 percent commission to the Concierge Auctions that raised his total investment to $141 million.

Who bought the 295 million dollar house? ›

The buyer of the Bel-Air mega mansion dubbed 'The One' has been revealed to be none other than Fashion Nova CEO Richard Saghian days after the estate sold well below its asking price at auction.

What was the last true mansion in New York City? ›

The Benjamin N. Duke House, also the Duke–Semans Mansion and the Benjamin N. and Sarah Duke House, is a mansion at 1009 Fifth Avenue, at the southeast corner with 82nd Street, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. It was built between 1899 and 1901 and was designed by the firm of Welch, Smith & Provot.

What is the oldest house still standing in New York City? ›

Wyckoff House Museum

Dating to ca. 1652, this Dutch farmhouse is the oldest existing structure in New York State.

Are there any mansions left in Manhattan? ›

Most of the Gilded Age mansions still standing in Manhattan are found on the Upper East Side, where aristocratic families such as the Astors, Vanderbilts, and Rockefellers once called home.

Is the Vanderbilt family still rich? ›

But within just 50 years of Cornelius's death, the Vanderbilt family fortune was completely gone. Even if you're not wealthy beyond imagination, like the Vanderbilts were, there's a lot to learn from their story of boom and bust.

Does Anderson Cooper own the Vanderbilt Mansion? ›

Bottom line: "Anderson Cooper does not have any ownership in, or get any special privileges at, Biltmore Estate," Sims said, "although we would love to have him visit." In case you're wondering, Gloria Vanderbilt also was married to Pasquale DiCicco, Leopold Stokowski and Sidney Lumet.

Does anyone live in the Vanderbilt Mansion? ›

Though the family stopped living in the mansion in the 1950s, it is still owned and run as a tourist attraction by the fourth generation of Vanderbilt descendants.

What happened to the Breakers mansion? ›

In 1972, the Preservation Society purchased the house and property from her heirs. The Breakers was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.

What happened to the Astor mansion in NYC? ›

The Astor House was a luxury hotel in New York City. Located on the corner of Broadway and Vesey Street in what is now the Civic Center and Tribeca neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan, it opened in 1836 and soon became the best-known hotel in America. Part of it was demolished in 1913; the rest was demolished in 1926.

What happened to the Clark mansion in NYC? ›

Clark House, nicknamed "Clark's Folly", was a mansion located at 962 Fifth Avenue on the northeast corner of its intersection with East 77th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It was demolished in 1927 and replaced with a luxury apartment building (960 Fifth Avenue).

What happened to the Carnegie mansion? ›

Completed in 1902 for the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, his wife Louise, and their only child Margaret, it served as the family's residence until 1946. Since 1976, the house has been occupied by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution.


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