Monday, April 21, 2008

How the Other Half Lives

I sometimes have a hard time explaining to people what it's really like to live and work in New York. The amount of wealth here is staggering but it's kind of like living in fantasy land. I decorate summer homes that are bigger than most American's main homes. It's a bit ridiculous and you really just have to laugh sometimes at the absurdity of it all. Especially when you start to think that a $500, 000 studio is actually quite reasonable. That's why I recommend reading The Sky's the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan by Steven Gaines.

One of my favorite stories is about One Sutton Place South (above), whose residents included Bill Blass, Sigourney Weaver, Carolyne Roehm, and of course, C.Z. Guest (below). Guest lived with her family in the famous penthouse apartment which was unceremoniously stripped of it's former glory by hedge fund president Richard Perry and his wife Lisa. It was featured in September 2002 Vogue and the slick and stark white modern monstrosity can also be seen in the new Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People.

If I've learned anything from the interior design world in New York, it's that nouveau riche don't understand history nor do they care to learn. Hence the proliferation of historic homes that are razed to make room for McMansions. But I digress. The chapter on Sutton Place is also filled with great stories about the popular interior designers of the day including Dorothy Draper and Elsie de Wolfe that I know my fellow design junkies will appreciate. The book might also make you realize that how the other half lives isn't all it's cracked up to be.

11 comments:

Marie Louise said...

The tower view of that building immediately brings back memories for me of walking through the park and seeing this vantage point over the pond. At one time I owned a piece of the Manhattan pie in a one bedroom apartment down on 6th Street and Avenue A. I bought it for a song in the early '90s and sold it seven years later - far too early. It's now worth the $500k you mentioned. Crazy - New York has gotten so outrageously expensive. Is there still a reasonably priced neighborhood on the island of Manhattan?

Habitually Chic said...

Marie Louise, I keep posing that same question to everyone I know. I also want to know what area people are going to make fashionable next. Who would have known the meatpacking district would be the hot spot it is today?! The lower east side seems to be the new popular are but it's still scary down there. People get shot on Delancey. I'm not hip enough for that area either. I guess I'm stuck with the UES for a while. Sigh.

24KGLDFCE said...

FANTASTIC EYE
Stellar curating; so glad to have found this.

Magnolia Wedding Planner said...

good morning! What an intersting book and what a pity that maybe i won't find it in italy , but i'll look on amazon :-P.
I've always dreamed of coming to NYc not as a tourist but to do some stage as wedding planner, and I'm still dreaming it, maybe one day...it could be an important experience for my job! Thank you for the tip!
Silvia

Anonymous said...

Ahh, one of pet peeves is Betty Sherrill, former snotty board president of 1 Sutton Place South, lousy designer, etc .. For some reason she drives me nuts.

teaorwine said...

And never forget the destruction of the original Penn Station which made way for sports and entertainment. Such a shame.

katiedid said...

Looks like another book for me! Thanks for the tip. Looks to be a very interesting read.

so_chic_darling said...

25 years ago a friend in Manhattan real estate told me "mark my words in twenty years Manhattan will be the rich and the projects and nothing else"pretty much true now that the average price of a Manhattan apartment has reached 1.7 million!

Claudia said...

You have no idea how right you are!!! I worked for an architect in the city for over a year and if you could only (I know you can!) imagine the number of nouveau riche clients we had wanting to gut beautiful old Park Ave apartments and oh, shame, destroy wonderful original plaster works in Brooklyn townhouses!!

Meg said...

The book sounds really interesting, and... I know it's quibbling, but I have to object to the idea that nouveau riche and parvenus don't understand history and don't want to. You talked about Ralph Lauren in your previous post, but boyfriend is nothing if not a parvenu- and it's great that he is. Anyway, quibbling done- and thanks for the book mention. I'll have to check it out.

Paloma said...

I look forward to reading this book. I love real estate and Manhattan, so this of course, seems perfect.

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