Here's What the Views from New York City's Best Apartments Look Like

'Life at the Top' shows how the other half lives.

What are the best addresses in New York City? According to Life at the Top: New York's Most Exceptional Apartment Buildings, a new book by Stribling & Co. Vice Chairman Kirk Henckels and architectural historian Anne Walker, that question is "a parlor game that sophisticated New Yorkers have been playing since the Gilded Age." The coffee-table stunner covers 15 of those buildings, from the Dakota (built in 1884) to 432 Park Avenue (completed in 2015). Here, in chronological order, is a look inside a few of the properties in the book.

The Dakota

Legend has it that when it was built at 72nd Street and Central Park West in 1884, the Dakota was so named because its remote location meant it may as well have been in the Dakota Territory. In fact, the building manager said in 1933, "Probably it was called 'Dakota' because it was so far west and so far north" in relation to Manhattan's city center at the time.


The building "signaled the beginning of luxury apartment living in New York," Henckels and Walker write, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, four years before Mark David Chapman shot musician John Lennon in its archway on December 8, 1980.

Celebrities like Lauren Bacall and Judy Garland have lived there over the years (Bacall for more than 50), but others like Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, and Billy Joel were reportedly rejected by the co-op board. Here, an American brass-and-cloisonné chandelier is shown in the foyer of Deedee and Barrie Wigmore's apartment. The couple is only the third owners in its 130-year history.


998 Fifth Avenue

Developer James T. Lee, the grandfather of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, built what Henckels and Walker write was "the first upscale apartment building on Fifth Avenue, or 'Millionaire's Row,' as it was known—a groundbreaking effort at a time when private houses were still considered the norm for the city's rich."


McKim, Mead & White built the 12-story limestone Italian Renaissance-style building across from the newly constructed Metropolitan Museum of Art between 1910 and 1912. "The house has no name," the New York Times wrote in 1913. "It does not need one. It is called by its number. And it is so famous that even the name of the avenue is not added. It is always spoken of, among the elect, as '998' and nothing more." The French boiserie-filled living room of the apartment designed for mining magnate Murry Guggenheim and his wife, Leonie, is shown here.

One Sutton Place South

In the 1920s, Sutton Place consisted of mostly townhouses. Completed in 1927 by Sicilian-born architect Rosario Candela and the firm Cross and Cross, the 14-story One Sutton Place South was the first luxury apartment building to be built in the neighborhood. The private landscaped garden overlooking the East River and Queensboro Bridge still exists today.


The building was designed in a "U" shape so that each of the 42 units had a view of the river.

C.Z. Guest once owned the rooftop penthouse with her husband, Winston Guest. Their apartment (not the one shown here) served as the setting for a 1958 Life magazine article about New York City socialites.


960 Fifth Avenue

Along with four other buildings in the book, 960 Fifth Avenue was cited in a 1997 New York Times article as being one of the "A-plus buildings... that signify that you are wealthy and social, that you have made it to the pinnacle of what many consider world society." Legendary decorator Sister Parish once called the building, which was designed by Candela with Warren & Wetmore, home.


When the late billionaire Edgar Bronfman, Sr.'s penthouse in the building was purchased by the richest man in Egypt for the astronomic price of $70 million in 2014, it was the most expensive co-op ever sold in the city. Residents of the building share the Georgian Suite, a private restaurant on the ground level, with the neighboring Three East 77th Street.

720 Park Avenue

After developer and Macy's co-owner Jesse Isidor Straus commissioned Candela and Cross & Cross to build 720 Park Avenue in 1928, his grandson Ken said family members occupied so many of the residences it "might well well have been called the Straus Family Apartment Building." (Jesse I. Straus went on to serve as the American ambassador to France from 1933 to 1936.) Here, works by Ed Ruscha and Robert Mapplethorpe are shown in the front hall of an apartment decorated by Jamie Tisch.


Interior designer Katie Ridder covered the walls of this apartment's TV room in Brunschwig & Fils's Kitchen Garden linen.

An Alex Katz painting hangs above a pair of leather chairs by Josef Hoffmann.

The Beresford

Emery Roth was awarded the commission for the Beresford in 1928, "on the eve of the Depression," Henckels and Walker write. The Central Park West building was one of the most important of his career. The New York Times wrote in 1928, "A new residential thoroughfare is being developed [that] will equal Park and Fifth Avenues on the East Side. It is Central Park West which is beginning to show very marked evidence of a great building revival and which will provide some of the finest and best-equipped apartment houses for well-to-do and discerning tenants."


Octagonal, copper-roofed towers (above left) anchor three corners of the building and account for its distinctive mark on the skyline. The late Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief Helen Gurley Brown, Jerry Seinfeld, Diana Ross, and Rock Hudson are a few of its most notable residents.

10 Gracie Square


When it was rumored last year that Barack and Michelle Obama were buying a New York City apartment, it was because they'd reportedly been spotted checking out apartments at 10 Gracie Square.

The 15-floor building where Gloria Vanderbilt once lived is located all the way east on 84th Street, across from Carl Schurz Park.


The building formerly housed a private club that offered yacht mooring, a practice that was discontinued when the FDR Drive was built. It is now a fitness center, according to StreetEasy.

740 Park Avenue

James T. Lee commissioned Candela and architect Arthur Loomis Harmon to build the 19-story building with Art Deco-inspired façades in 1929. By October 1930, the 30 apartments were ready for occupancy. A young Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier (Lee's granddaughters) lived there as young girls before their family moved in 1938. Here, a staircase in the apartment originally owned by J. Watson and Electra Havemeyer Webb is shown. (In her will, Electra left six of the rooms in the apartment to the Shelburne Museum she founded in Vermont, and they're now open to visitors in a Greek Revival building on the museum's campus).


Famous residents of what Michael Gross's book called "the World's Richest Apartment Building" have included Vera Wang, David Koch, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Ronald Perelman, Woody Johnson, and Stephen Schwarzman, who reportedly lives in Rockefeller's old triplex.

Candela designed the 18-story 778 Park Avenue "directly on the heels of 740 Park Avenue," and "likely filed plans for the two buildings simultaneously," Henckels and Walker write. The brick teahouse shown here belongs to the penthouse; it contains hand-thrown blue and green tiles and offers views of Central Park.

River House


Opened in 1931 at the east end of 52nd Street, on the site of a former cigar factory, William Lawrence Bottomley's River House debuted as the largest cooperative in Manhattan. There were 64 original apartments, which ranged from simplexes to triplexes and from nine to 17 rooms. Like 10 Gracie Square, it once had a private boat landing that was lost when the FDR Drive was built. The southern wing of the building contains the River Club.

A curved staircase that spans three floors of one apartment is shown here. The stair runner was woven as one continuous piece of fabric on an antique loom.

834 Fifth Avenue


Candela's 16-story building overlooks Central Park and its zoo, which is directly across Fifth Avenue. The Observer deemed it "the most pedigreed building on the snobbiest street in the country’s most real estate-obsessed city," and when a duplex that belonged to the late Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund was listed for $120 million in 2016, it was the most expensive apartment for sale in the city. (It's since been reduced to a mere $76 million.)

176 Perry Street

In 2002, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier completed two residential condominium buildings in the West Village at 173 and 176 Perry Street, overlooking the Hudson River. "A Modernist, [Meier] is considered one of the New York Five, along with his second cousin Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, and John Hejduk, and his practice, founded in 1963, is based in New York City," the authors write.


176 Perry Street is the larger of the two towers, and each unit measured 4,000 square feet when it was built. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened Perry St restaurant on the ground floor, and the kitchen is now helmed by his son, Cedric Vongerichten. Nicole Kidman sold her 12th-floor unit for $16 million in 2012, according to the Hollywood Reporter, and Hugh Jackman's triplex reportedly covers the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors.

432 Park Avenue

At 96 stories and 1,396 feet, 432 Park Avenue is impossible to miss in the Manhattan skyline. It's also the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere.


Developers Harry Macklowe and CIM Group commissioned Uruguayan-born Rafael Viñoly to design the 85-story tower.

It was completed in 2015 and features views of Central Park, the George Washington Bridge, and points ever farther north.

Authors Anne Walker and Kirk Henckels

Henckels is vice chairman of Stribling and Walker is an architectural historian.


Here's how to get a copy of the book.

 BUY NOW: $72.53

*This story originally appeared on
*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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