City & Suburban York Avenue Estate

1470 York Avenue
Harde & Short; Percy Griffen; Philip H. Ohm
NYC Individual Landmark, National Register of Historic Places

The City and Suburban Homes Company Avenue A (York Avenue) Estate occupies the entire city block between 78th and 79th Streets and York Avenue and the East Side Highway/FDR Drive. This collection of 18 beige brick model tenements represents a pioneering era in the development of low-income urban housing. When it was completed in 1913, it offered 1,257 well-ventilated, modern apartments for working families, as well as a 336-room hotel for working women. What made the unprecedented scale and quality of this new housing type possible was the privately financed limited-dividend corporation, whose members agreed to a limited return on their investment. Investors in this fairly novel real estate business model included philanthropic and socially minded New Yorkers like Caroline and Olivia Stokes, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Darius Ogden Mills. Although the York Avenue Estate presents a nearly unbroken line of simplified Renaissance Revival style façades to the street, each building is designed around a generous interior courtyard that brings fresh air and abundant light into the apartments within. A sister complex, the City & Suburban Homes First Avenue Estate, contains an additional light-court type buildings at First Avenue and 64th Street, built between 1898 and 1915.