Inside the Ansonia A New York Classic

Of all the awe-inspiring, historically significant buildings that make the Upper West Side of Manhattan so aesthetically pleasing and popular to the masses, perhaps few are as architecturally exuberant or hold such colorful history as the Ansonia building and hotel.

Located at 2109 Broadway, the Ansonia’s ornate façade towers 18 stories above the trees at its feet, both beautiful and a little imposing. The structure is massive—the largest mixed apartment/hotel building in the city, boasting 1,400 rooms, over 300 suites and a grand total of 50,000 square feet, according to Stephen Gaines, author of The Sky’s the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan.

In addition to the scale and grandeur of the Ansonia building itself, the building is rich with the history of the people who have lived there and the secrets contained within its walls. But the past isn’t the only thing interesting about the building. Its present is pretty fascinating, too.

Dodgy William

William Earl Dodge “W.E.D.” Stokes, heir to the huge Ansonia copper fortune, broke ground for the Ansonia building in 1899, but prior to that, he was a flamboyant figure in New York society—though not especially popular.

Historical sources differ somewhat as to Stokes’ character. The term “despicable” comes up with some frequency, and most sources agree that Stokes was a general pain in the neck, though others more charitably refer to him as “eccentric.” He was prone to random outbursts of profanity and fired people for entertainment. He sought out and married a 15-year-old girl he knew only from a photograph in a shop window, alienated his entire family through intrigue and litigation, and seemed to care for nothing but his grand vision for the Ansonia.

Read More...

Related Articles

When the Noisy Neighbor … Is Literally Next Door

Dealing with Noise in a Neighboring Building

The Pokémon Go Craze

Is the Game App Driving Your Co-op or Condo Crazy?

The Old-Fashioned Intercom Is Getting a Makeover

New Technologies Are Enhancing Your Building's Intercom System

 

50 Comments

  • a few years ago I went to this building, had some champagne, cigarettes and great conversation. also listened to some music, live. One the violin the other a grand piano. It's a beautiful building. My friend lives there.
  • "We do have artists here, like Afgani Kissan, the Russian pianist" LOL. His name is spelled EVGENY KISSIN.
  • I lived in this beautiful; building in the early 80's. I woke nearly every morning to the sounds of operatic scales being practiced. I lived beside many film stars such Roy Scheider,Richard Dreyfus,Lee Grant and opera great Placido Domingo. Once I needed some dressy earrings and borrowed the wonderful prisms hanging from the scones, of course I later returned them. No one ever knew. I love and miss the Ansonia.
  • My mother used to live there during the second world war, sharing a one bedroom studio with my grand mother, her sister and a bunch of cousins, paying five dollars a week !!!! Sadly for Us, She passed away three months ago, so we just made a trip to NYC and stop by, to pay tribute to Her, and the Doorman gladly lets us came in to admire the splendor of the building, and, for a brief moment, share a part of the story that flows in our veins.
  • anybody have any old pictures of the ansonia, dating back to 1919-1925?
  • MY FATHER LIVED THERE WITH HIS MOTHER HILLIAN OVANDO AND STEP FATHER MANUEL OVANDO IN THE 30'S WOULD LOVE TO SEE THE INSIDE
  • My gt. grandmother lived there with her husband in the 20's and with her son in the thirties. She was still a resident there when she died in 1952. We all thought she lived in great splendor but having read about the Ansonia's condition in it's latter days life must have been fraught, and not a little unpleasant. The story of the Ansonia, though, remains utterly fascinating.
  • What are the room dimensions of a two bedroom two bath apt.??
  • Used to rehearse/compose/teach piano or voice in studios there I rented from a guy named Fausto for $5 per hour. An accompanist I knew from Albano's Voice Studio where I worked lived there. Don't remember her name.
  • What is the old Turkish Bath (i.e. Continental/Platos) used as now? Is it a spa or something like that?
  • One of my all-time fave short novels is Seize The Day, in which Saul Bellow mentions the Ansonia as visible from the hotel where the protagonist and his father live. However, I recall reading that the Ansonia, with its basement Turkish baths was the actual inspiration for the fictional Gloriana, where the characters live. Can anyone confirm this with a citation?
  • I lived in the Ansonia in the late 50s/60s. FASCINATING. So many famous muscians lived there - and others like myself, studying and aspiring to a gradn career. I only left because I moved to Italy, otherwise I would probably still be there. The history of the building is fascinationg.
  • I met my wife who auditioned on the 2nd floor Guild Studios in 1979
  • I for one and thrilled to know the Ansonia still stands as one of the truly unique New York icons. There never has been nor ever will be any structure with quite as colorful, unusual and even funny, though, at times a little sad a history. I have been up to the rooftop and it still commands quite a view. The interior is beautiful and stately. It is truly a landmark building and I know we who live in the Upper West Side love this old French chateaux masterpiece of Beaux Art. I only wish I could have seen the "farm in the sky". That must have really been something. I am thankful it still stands, as it has for 106 years, a beacon to the Upper West Side and looks as striking as it ever did.
  • I lived in the Ansonia in the eighties....I keep thinking about these older women who sat in the lobby most of the day. i always thought they may have been sisters, but they were eccentric, wore exaggerated make-up etc. I am wondering if anyone out there remembers them . Something tells me they mediums . i have been so curious about them. If anyone knows about them ....please post. Thanks
  • My father taught solfeggio at Guild Studios for many years in the Ansonia. He rented space from Mina Cravi-Bozza and her son is Fausto Bozza. I used to visit Dad's classes and so wish I could afford to live there today. Many memories.
  • Does anyone know how I can locate a record for a resident of Ansonia around 40's-50's? My grandfather Vassili Sustroeff immigrated from Russia in late 1920's and lived in Ansonia. Ин 1935 performed in Philladelphia. His letters stopped coming around WW2. I ve been trying to find out where he died and where he is buried . If anyone has any leads in terms of getting records for the residents i would greatly appreciate it. the Ansonia rep told me that they don't keep records that old.
  • i taught art at the albert pels school of art and think of the memories and the students from 1969. every day i took my lunch up to the roof top to eat alone and thought what a strange and wonderful building
  • I'm trying to gather whatever information I can on a psychic or medium who held regular meetings in the Ansonia Hotel. I think her name is Mrs. Christiansen but that's a guess. I know it's Mrs. something. You'd write a question on a piece of paper, fold it and put your initials on the outside. She'd call your initials and give you "information" she was receiving, then ask if that answered your question. If it did not, she'd then open the paper and respond to whatever you asked. This was probably back in the 1970s but it could have even been as far back as the 1960s. I would be grateful for any information.
  • One of NY's most haunted locations
  • It is ashame in this age of gay liberation that most articles speak of the Continental Baths as if it were a negative for the Ansonia. It was a wonderful fairyland filed with great entertainers like Bette Mildler and gay orgies full of fun. I ,for one, certainly miss the Continental Baths and think it lent a certain Bohemian class to the history of the place. I have been in bath houses all over these great United States and none has ever come close to the artistry and penach that Continental Baths had in it's day. It seems very hippocritical to suggest that having the old Turkish Baths used as a disco and gay bath house with as much punch as Studio 54 had for it's time wasn't an asset. Many a straight couple and person visited for the entertainment part of the baths in the evenings fully clothed and admired the "gay boys" there as well as they pranced about in pre-Aids days. I'm sure Plato's retreat had its good points also, but I have no first hand knowledge of the goings on there. It to should not be spoken of as if none of the readers ever heard of such goings on. Let's not all pretend we are phoney prudes. Apparently Mr. Stokes, the originator of the building, was quite the swinger himself.
  • I live down the block and I often see an older lady with exaggerated makeup and a reddish brownish hair in the nabe, so maybe that is one of the mediums. I always note the original ironwork on the side streets-- some of which was removed and repliciated then replaced. The 74th St side gets alot of abuse because of Loehmanns and Fairway but 73rd has an interesting vehicle turnaround tucked into the facade. In the lobby is a case of old silerv and photos of the Ansionia back in the day.
  • My grandfather ran the news stand in the lobby in the 30-50's. My mom worked there ,too. Throughout her life she regaled us with stories of the Babe Ruth team, Pinza, Pons, etc. My grandfather probably knew the older relatives of some of posts here.
  • I found out about this great and beautiful building from watching 666 Park Avenue on British television. I hope one day to visit New York and see this gorgeous place for myself.
  • Another Brit brought here by 666 Park Avenue. The building is absolutely stunning. If I'm ever lucky enough to visit NY it's certainly going to be on my to-visit list.
  • Just went by yesterday and wen in Lohman's which is in the basement. It's where the Continental Baths was but there is nothing left of the old space. Very funny feeling. The Continental was a wonderful part of the gay scene in the 1970s and it was important to me. I remember one of the small rooms (cubicles really) that had a large bay window, painted black. I walked around the back of the building and the bay window is still there.
  • What a beautiful and magnificent building ! A Gem :), I am currently watching 666 in the UK, and am hoping to visit NY next May, I am definately going to stop by to see this building in all it's glory , wow !!! Simply stunning :)
  • Sandy Piacente-Harding on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:52 AM
    I was an art student at Pels School of Commercial Art from 1980-1982. The Ansonia was in pretty bad shape on the inside, but all if that added to its charm in my opinion. I've since forgotten what floor the school was on, but we had the entire floor. I remember the coffee shop in the lobby and the great people who worked there. All in all the Ansonia is a beautiful building.
  • Mary Hillian Holden Waltman on Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:21 PM
    To Suzette...my great-aunt was Hillian Ovando married to Manuel Ovando...lived for years at the Ansonia Hotel, but not in the 30's. She only had one son, he was born and still resides in MS. She passed away in the late 80's early 90's and Uncle Manuel sent her remains back to MS.
  • Loretta Guido De Rosso on Friday, January 17, 2014 12:35 PM
    I studied voice with Maestro Astolfo Pescia in the early 50's and his studio was at the Hotel Ansonia. I worked as his secretary in return for 5-1/2 hr. lessons per week. It was a very memorable time in my life.
  • Thank you for this article. The subject matter is one of the very few things that fascinates me (for some reason). Very cool for those who shared about family members once living there! Such a rich, exciting history. :)
  • In reply to Lisa: the psychic I think you were referring to was Reverend Rose Erickson. Her husband would collect a paper on which you wrote 3 questions and she answered the questions without looking at the paper. I think she was very accurate and I was wondering what happened to her.
  • I lived in the Ansonia from 1962 to 1968 with two roommates Ruth and Lewellyn (who was a music and voice teacher). Ruth was a rep for Columbia Artists and managed Van Cliburn. I was in the theatre and modern dance world. I remember having to climb the long, winding staircase to the 11th floor during the great east coast blackout. Thank goodness the blackout didn't last too long!!!!! Whew. The bath house,steam room, pool area downstairs was then the Al Roons Health Club, not yet seedy. An adorable, Phillipino gentleman was a bellman who would pick up food for us from the deli that faced B'way and from the drug store on the corner of B'way & 74th. He was amazing and so sweet. (We loved him and tipped him handsomely.) No lovely roof gardens for us in those days. My friends and I used to sunbathe on the most unattractive black tarred roof but the view was spectacular. I used to walk to One Columbus Circle at 59th & B'way and on the way watch the construction of Lincoln Center. Often we would take a short stroll over to Riverside Park or Central Park for a relaxing afternoon. Delightful memories of the famous/infamous Ansonia are very dear. I've taken note of the rental cost of one and two bedrooms today. It makes me happy I could call her home in a day when I could afford it. Long may she live.
  • I've loved Bette Midler since the early 70s.Her music helped get me through the Navy. I've always wanted to visit 230 w74th street to get the vibes that still eminate from there.Can't you just hear her..."and I am all alone..."?
  • I was one of Dan McKinney's students in 1969 at Pels school of art...Have loved that building since those days! Want to return for a visit and some exploration of that beautiful and enchanting building!
  • I seen the movie "666 Park Avenue" and it was so exciting about The ANSONIA hotel and its history. I can't stop doing research about this famous building. My son (STEVEN) works at the APPLE store near Central Park so now I plan to visit the ANSONIA and pray that I get in. I can't think of a better way to travel back in time. This is a once in a lifetime dream come true for me and at the age of 63 almost.
  • Lisa..it was Rv erickson.....I hear she passed in 1984...and Bias or Byers was another good one..I hear
  • I was a cab driver/ artist/musician. One day a fare had me driver her to the Ansonia. She pointed to the turret overlooking 72nd and Broadway and said, "that's where I live" pointing to the roof. When she asked if I would like to come up and visit I said sure. I don't remember exactly how we got up to the roof top turret, it but I remember being inside and feeling cozy and honored to be in such a spot with this squatter. I loved the adventure & still have the memory of it's roundness. I can't recall if there were little windows? I don't thinks so, though. Anybody know or have you too been inside one of the turrets on top?
  • Lisa Your speaking about Reverend Rose Erickson You would write a question for the paper and Rev. Rose would answer without opening up the paper. Amazing..
  • Just saw SUZANNE ....from the wonderful days at Albert Pels school of Art..." .Suzanne was art"
  • In 1988 I lived across the street from the Ansonia, which struck me as empty and haunted. I didn't know that the landlord was warehousing apartments (and storing enormous potted ficus trees in them!) pending a condo conversion until the following year or so, when I saw three high floor one bedroom apartments during the Ansonia's conversion phase; one conventionally laid out with a fireplace in the west-facing courtyard for around $140K, another with an oval living room and no fireplace facing the Broadway courtyard for around $180K, and, unbelievably, a penthouse SW corner tower apartment, either in the mansard roof or just below, with the round tower parlor used as the bedroom and the former space with two bedrooms and a dining room gutted into a vast, lofty living room, for around $340K. I had almost no savings myself but BEGGED my mother to invest since my income plus the $500/mo I'd get from renting the bedroom would cover the carrying costs, but she said she didn't "consider New York real estate a good investment." Figures. I grew up in possibly the only home in America with the board game "Finance" but not "Monopoly." Though I've had many an occasion, I haven't even been able to bring myself to even walk through the lobby since 1990.
  • Is there a Turkish bath still for use at the famous Ansonia, one of the best experience!!!! Thank you
  • The Continental Baths ...........How glorious ! How wonderful ! How innocent we were !
  • For more information about this legendary building, check out the book, "The Ansonia: A Pictorial History: Manhattan's Beaux-Arts Masterpiece."
  • I went to the pel school for art from 79 to 83 Peter english was my instructor. loved the school and the building.
  • Lived in the building since 1973 fresh from chicago illinois roosevelt university. Amazing the artirst I have met and worked with
  • Sandy Piacente -Harding on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 10:05 AM
    I also attended Art School here from 1980-1982. My art teacher was Mr. Robert Frank. I would love to touch base with some of my old classmates. Maria Rinaldi, Judy, Steve.
  • Weren't there art classes in this building during the 50's/60's? I vaguely recall my mother taking me there to the Pells Art School. Does anyone know if I'm remembering this correctly?
  • I had the pleasure of attending the Arthur Pels art school in 1966 at the Ansonia. Mr Pels was a great teacher and person. I loved the Ansonia building and hope that it is preserved. It is one of the most beautiful buildings and a treasure of NYC. I was glad to have signed the petition for its preservation. If I am fortunate to visit NY again it will be a sure visit that will bring back beautiful memories of the Ansonia and the West Side. Just glad to read these articles.
  • Pels was great times! great instructors and classmates - went there in '77 - '78 i think... haha.. like i said,.. great times! not sure how long the school was open after my group split - to the fantastic salsa music of Tito Puente's band at graduation - ha.. i may be mistaken about that being Tito, also.. whoever it was, he had that old building swinging its hips to the subway station on 72nd, and back. great times!