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Uncovering the Transformation of Billionaires Row: From Quiet Neighborhood to the Iconic Skyline

Discover the Fascinating Evolution of Billionaires Row: From Quiet 19th Century Neighborhood to the Opulent Destination of Today, Featuring Skyscraper Booms, Iconic Buildings, and Ultra-Luxury Towers.

Four Vogue models standing in front of the skyline of billionaires' row
Vogue Models in New York. Circa 1960.

Billionaires Row, a stretch of ultra-luxury residential towers along 57th Street in Manhattan, has become a symbol of New York City's wealth and opulence. But the area wasn't always the glitzy, glamorous destination that it is today. In fact, the history of Billionaires Row is a story of transformation and evolution that spans several centuries.

historic picture of the 57th street house in the 19th century
57th Street house in the 19th Century

The Early Years In the 19th century, 57th Street was a quiet, residential neighborhood lined with brownstones and townhouses. Wealthy New Yorkers lived in these elegant homes, and the area was considered one of the most desirable places to live in the city.

However, in the early 20th century, the area began to change. With the construction of Central Park and the expansion of the subway system, developers saw the opportunity to transform 57th Street into a commercial hub. The elegant brownstones and townhouses were replaced with office buildings and hotels, and the neighborhood became a bustling center of commerce.

The Rise of Skyscrapers In the 1920s, New York City experienced a skyscraper boom, and 57th Street was no exception. The completion of the Fuller Building (now known as the Flatiron Building) in 1902 ushered in a new era of tall buildings, and developers soon began to construct towering structures along 57th Street.

One of the most notable buildings to emerge during this time was the Alwyn Court, a 12-story luxury apartment building that still stands today. Designed by architects Harde & Short in the French Renaissance style, the building is adorned with elaborate terra-cotta ornamentation and has been designated a New York City Landmark.

black and white picture of midtown manhattan with a lot of people and cars on it
Midtown Manhattan in the 20s

The Post-War Years In the decades following World War II, 57th Street underwent another transformation. The area became home to some of the city's most iconic buildings, including the Art Deco-style Fuller Building and the Modernist Lever House.

former picture of the flatiron
The Fuller in The New Yorker Cover

But it wasn't until the 21st century that 57th Street truly became Billionaires Row. Developers saw an opportunity to create ultra-luxury residential towers in the heart of Manhattan, and began constructing some of the tallest and most expensive buildings in the world.

Today's Billionaires Row Today, Billionaires Row is home to some of the most exclusive residential towers in the world. The most iconic of these is 432 Park Avenue, a 96-story tower that is currently the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere. Other notable buildings include One57, 220 Central Park South, and 111 West 57th Street.

While the area has certainly changed over the years, its rich history and iconic architecture continue to draw visitors from around the world. Whether you're a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply curious about New York City's most exclusive neighborhood, Billionaires Row is a destination that is not to be missed.

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