High Ambition

Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty scales the heights of sophistication and style in Manhattan.

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26 East 80th Street, Manhattan is close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park.  It is one of the smartest areas in the city in which to live.  And of course a Brownstone is one of the smartest houses in the neighbourhood.

In the US Brownstone is the name given to townhouses clad in Triassic or Jurassic sandstone extracted from several specialist quarries down the East Coast.  A number of US cities are well known for Brownstones including Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.  But it is the New York Brownstone of the Upper East and Upper West sides that are the real real estate icons and very much sought after.

The Brownstone I visited recently was everything I had expected and more.  First, it just went on forever – six storeys of high ceiling elegance, sophistication and clever but conservative use of nineteenth century architecture for contemporary living.

There is certainly a nostalgic quality about the house.  But while the resonance may be more “The Age of Innocence” than “Bonfire of the Vanities” this is very much a house for today.  It even has a gym.  The well-heeled denizens of Manhattan in the 19th century may not have had a private gym.  For exercise and society they would have joined the New York Athletic Club on Central Park West.  Their 21st century counterparts may still do.  But one’s own gym today seems so de rigueur.  Yet it is hardly necessary in this home because through the day the six long flights of stairs should give a very good workout indeed.  After all, this is New York: stairs here are the norm and well-developed calves and quads go with the territory.

It is certainly a long way from the bottom to the top of the house.  But the stairs are well worth climbing.  Atop is a dreamy roof garden.  This is a much more private Manhattan than on street level.  From here there is a different perspective.  There are all the familiar sounds of the city but they are somehow removed and remind one how apart and privileged it is to belong to this roof top world.

This remarkable property is currently available to rent.  It has lots going for it.  But perhaps best of all in our health-conscious times is that the occupants can keep fit in such supreme style.

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One Response to High Ambition

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