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CityRealty's Top 10 Lists

New York City apartment buildings offer the best of everything: views, style, amenities, services, space, location, prestige...

CityRealty's residential architecture expert, Carter B. Horsley, has reviewed and compiled definitive Top 10 lists for every aspect of New York City apartment living and architecture. If you're looking for the right New York City apartment building with the best of something special you want in a home, or you just need to know who has the most spectacular rooftop decks in the city or the most incredible gargoyles, the CityRealty Top 10 lists let you know where it's at.

Top 10 New NYC Apartment Buildings in 2011

You can't expect too many "game-changers" in residential architecture in Manhattan every year as the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) Syndrome persists in most neighborhoods and communities. Still, there are occasional breakthroughs like last year's 100 Eleventh Avenue, famed for its proliferation of differently sized and canted windows, and Chelsea Modern, praised for its angled facade and windows that that open parallel to the facade. There are a few strong entries in 2011, encouraging hope that the city's design conservatism may be waning.

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Top 10 Carl Schurz Park/East End Apartment Buildings

In days of yore, Yorkville overflowed with the Germanic hail of clinking steins and was the epicenter of dancing stewardesses. Now, of course, things have settled down a lot and the Top 10 Carl Schurz/East End apartment buildings are fitting testimonials to the fabled academic prowess of Chapin and Brearley, the city's top girls schools, and Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence in Carl Schurz Park with its splendid vistas of bridges across Long Island Sound.

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Top 10 Central Park West Apartment Buildings

Although Fifth Avenue is pretty well known internationally as a respectable address, the Top 10 Central Park West apartment buildings really come on strong in the current home stretch. Its line-up is a murderers' row of really impressive and interesting New York City apartment buildings. Some of them, of course, are ageless veterans, but they have true architectural heart, if not grit. Sort of reminds one of the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers: incomparable even if they lost to the Yankees. C'mon, you didn't think all the people on Central Park West rooted for the Yankees? They're just in the mood for greatness, even if it vanished, which is pretty astounding, gosh darn!

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Top 10 Most Prestigious New York City Condos

Most of the Top 10 Most Prestigious New York City Condo Apartment Buildings are pretty new as the only pre-war buildings to make the list are The Plaza and The Residences at the Ritz Carlton, both on the same Central Park South block. Not all of them feature floor-through apartments as smaller pieds-a-terre are attractive to many out-of-towners. All of them, however, are definitely "full-service" buildings and while they may not have a complete laundry list of the latest and greatest amenities there is little doubt that their residents are pampered.

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Top 10 Sutton Place/Beekman Place Apartment Buildings

The Top 10 New York City condo apartment buildings in the United Nations, and Sutton and Beekman Places neighborhoods are off the beaten path from Midtown but they have always attracted a steady and loyal clientele who enjoy waterfront views without sacrificing proximity to the restaurants and attractions of Midtown. The Trump World Tower became the city's tallest apartment building although it incurred the wrath of many residents for rising above the Secretariat Building of the United Nations. Many others curbed their height and slowly changed the area from pre-war low- and mid-rise apartments buildings to luxury apartment towers such as Three Ten at 310 East 53rd Street, 100 United Nations Plaza, the Milan at 300 East 55th Street, the St. James Tower at 415 East 54th Street, the Beekman Regent at 351 East 51st Street, the Mondrian at 250 West 54th Street, and The Collection at 441 East 57th Street.

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Top 10 Most Prestigious Co-ops, East Side

The most prestigious apartment buildings in the city are not necessarily the most architecturally prominent, nor exciting, nor home to infamous hard rockers. They are the ones that are the hardest to get into and that does not translate to hulky doormen. It means buildings with very, very picky boards that are more investigative than IRS agents and who screech "all cash." And, by the way, don't even think of publicity. Yes, these are the untouchables who are generally quite philanthropic even if they don't dress like the other 99.99 percent. The Top 10 most prestigious New York City cooperative apartment buildings on the Upper East Side tend to be elegant, conservative, older and understated buildings. Not flashy….

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Top 10 Park Avenue Apartment Buildings

All but one of these New York City apartment buildings are pre-war and all feature apartments large enough for distinctive and memorable, white-glove dinner parties. The post-war building with its handsome sidewalk arcade at 733 Park Avenue looms over most of its neighbors on the avenue including the adjacent Asia Society and its delightful store. Its very large, full-floor units, however, are appropriate for visiting Buddhas.

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Top 10 Facade Ornamentation

Camouflage is something of a lost art as everyone, it seems, wants the real thing. But as Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady might ask, why can't a building be more like a building? For a long time, architects in the city revived historical styles to jazz up their new projects. A little Gothic perhaps, or a touch Egyptian? How about good ole Regency? Nothing, however, really beats the naked ladies, grisly gargoyles, and daredevil dragons that festoon our list of the Top 10 Facade Ornamentation on New York City Apartment Buildings.

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Top 10 Building Conversions

The conversions of many former commercial buildilngs into New York City apartment buidligns has been a substantial slice of the development pie in Manhattan and nortwestern Brooklyn for a generation or so as climbing rents justified the high architectural, construction and legal costs of changing a structure's usage. Most of the Top 10 Building Conversions happened a few years ago as the choicest properties were obviously the first to go. The most recent and glamorous conversion has been the Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue at Central Park South where about half the fabled hotel rooms facing Central Park were converted to luxury residential condominiums.

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Top 10 NYC Apartment Buildings Casting Shadows on Parks

Environmental awareness was not always a top priority in urban planning but the Time-Warner Center on Columbus Circle changed that when Bill Moyers and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis protested with others in Central Park against the evils of it spreading shadows threatening the sunshine of their lives. Shady buildings such as the Top 10 New York City apartment buildings casting shadows on parks are no longer considered cool by many civic activists and community board committees worried about a little gloom in this film noir city.

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Top 10 Apartment Buildings Architecturally, East Side

The greatest quality of apartment buildings on Fifth and Park is their similar style in terms of building form and cornice lines. If New York were Paris, then all apartment buildings would look like the Italian Renaissance palazzo-style 998 Fifth Avenue. New York, of course, is not Paris, and, as a result, it is generally harder for the architectural virtues of most of the buildings on Fifth and Park avenue to stand out. There are, however, some notable exceptions in the list of the Top 10 New York city apartment buildings architecturally on the East Side such as the great and highly visible towers of River House, Trump Tower, Trump Palace, the Corinthian, the Sherry Netherland and 100 United Nations Plaza. Some buildings on the fabled avenues also stand out because they rise, with considerable grace and panache, just a few floors above their neighbors such as 770 and 778 Park Avenue.

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Top 10 Apartment Buildings Architecturally, West Side

One would have to be Solomon to choose architecturally between the San Remo and the Beresford apartment buildings, both designed by Emery Roth, on Central Park West. The former twin-towered edifice is classical, elegant and tall. The latter triple-towered structure is bulky but has significant frontage on two parks. Neither, of course, has the mystique and allure of the Dakota, whose gravitas anchors the Upper West Side, nor the exotic frivolity of the Ansonia and the Dorilton, both on Broadway.

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Top 10 Upper East Side Condos, Major Cross Streets

Not surprisingly, most of the Top 10 Upper East Side condos on major cross streets are relatively newer apartment towers. The major exception is the wonderful Millan House at 116 East 67th Street with its menagerie of gargoyles and center garden. The newest is The Collection, a bejeweled glass tower at 441 East 57th Street with more glittery flair than the other towers on the list.

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Top 10 Manhattan Apartment Buildings That Celebrate Labor Day

Union Square has long been associated with labor so it is not surprising that many of the residential buildings surrounding it may not have union labels but "union" addresses. Not all of them are architectural masterpieces nor historical monuments but they carry a lot of the city's history for important causes. The most prominent development on the square, the four, pyramid-capped towers of Zeckendorf Towers. 1 Union Square South brought an artistic facade and large and modern retail spaces that would begin to obscure the memory of 14th Street's legendary Luchow's Restaurant and Diamond Jim Brady. Some architectural glory persists at the Bank of the Metropolis Building at 31 Union Square West, especially with its fine outdoor dining. The big action nowadays is the large farmer's market where regional growers bring their produce in big trucks.

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Top 10 Non-Rectilinear

Imagine, a bundle of cylindrical quivers, a crescent-shaped scoop, a tower with softened setbacks, a razor-sharp black monolith, and the broadest shapely curves this side of heaven and you have our list of the Top 10 Non-Rectilinear New York City apartment buildings. It is hard to fathom why so many buildings in the city have straight walls and only right angles. - C.B.H.

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