The Upper East Side Historic District is one of New York City’s largest landmark districts. Designated in 1981, this district stretches along Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to 78th Street, and at certain points, as far east as Third Avenue. The neighborhood is synonymous with wealth and social standing. Since the turn of the century, many of New York’s most affluent people have lived here. Today, the district contains a rich mixture of modest brownstone row houses, opulent town houses, mansions, and imposing apartment houses. Some of the finest American examples of urban residential architecture can be found on these streets.
In the decades following the Civil War, the open land with ramshackle buildings was transformed into a bustling middle-class residential community. With the advent of the twentieth century, the neighborhood metamorphosed again — this time into an enclave of mansions and town houses.
The Upper East Side is full of townhouses that were “stylishly updated” at the turn of the century. At that time, brownstones were seen as dark, stodgy and unfashionable. 41 East 67th Street, the limestone building in this photograph, was designed by Breen & Nason, and built in 1878-79. In 1909, the architects Denby & Nute redesigned the facade to create this elegant neo-Classical design. The neighboring brownstone (1878, J.H. Valentine) was stripped of its details after this photograph was taken in 1947 (photo by Wurts Brothers).