About The Ansonia, 2109 Broadway
The second most famous building on the Upper West Side after the Dakota, the Ansonia hints at the glories of a mid-rise Paris that never was.
It exudes cosmopolitanism and is the city's most European building.
Despite the ravages of time, the building still reeks of sophistication and romance and a mannered luxury more of decadence than gentility. It is exuberant rather than exotic, courtly rather than stately.
Designed as the city's largest and grandest apartment hotel by Graves and Duboy for builder William Earle Dodge Stokes, the 2,500-room building, erected between 1899 and 1904, now misses the tall lantern-like finials atop its corner turrets that look a bit like empty egg holders. It does not take too much imagination to visualize how much more graceful the finials made the building's composition, but it takes quite a bit more to realize that the building's central tower was, sadly, never executed.
The ornate tower would have been especially potent visually, an odd combination of baroque grandeur and Beaux-Arts articulation. "The building's composition was to have been resolved by a vast baldachino rising the equivalent of ten stories above the roof garden, an amazingly extravagant gesture evoking the roofscape of Chambord," the great French chateau, observed Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and John Massengale in their book, "New York 1900, Metropolitan Architecture and Urbanism, 1890-1915," (Rizzoli International Publications Inc., 1983), which has a full-page reproduction of a rendering of the building with the tower.