Museums, Mansions, and Millionaires LIfe in Manhattan's Carnegie Hill

On Manhattan's Upper East Side, embracing world-class museums, exclusive private schools foreign embassies and just steps from Central Park, lies one of New York City's premier "status" neighborhoods. Commercial truck clamor is rarely heard here - the noise and bustle of downtown replaced with a liberal dose of baby strollers and small, well-groomed dogs. Carnegie Hill has been called New York's "˜quintessential residential neighborhood' and is home to some of the city's most lavish real estate properties. There is a waiting list for just about everything here, but an address in this affluent enclave imparts a sense of history and continuity that's sometimes hard to find in other, trendier neighborhoods.

Carnegie Hill's exact borders depend on whom you ask, but the area is generally thought to stretch east from Central Park to Lexington Avenue and from around 70th Street to the high 90s uptown. Whatever the borders, however, the area's history is redolent with colorful characters and amazing architecture.

Carnegie Hill's distinctive topography - situated as it is on a hill - creates a unique sense of place. According to neighborhood preservation group Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District, this historic district includes roughly 400 buildings representing architectural styles ranging from Federal to Georgian, and including low-rise brick and brownstone townhouses from the late 1870s to 1890s. The area also features large freestanding townhouses, mansions, deluxe residential hotels, and larger apartment buildings, all built between 1900 through the 1930s.

Titans of Industry

Carnegie Hill's namesake is Andrew Carnegie, legendary industrialist of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Carnegie was a self-made man who immigrated flat broke from Scotland and then made millions in the American steel industry. Carnegie sold his steel interests in 1901 and gave most of the proceeds away. His money went toward founding free public libraries across the country and to the establishment of Carnegie Hall, New York City's famed concert hall.

According to historical records, Andrew Carnegie hired the architectural firm of Babb, Cook and Willard in 1898 to "design a stone and brick home, with quoined corners and a tall chimney on a rusticated base." The L-shaped mansion had an entrance on 90th Street rather than Fifth Avenue, with a large surrounding garden. The 64-room structure was designed to accommodate "personal living quarters, servants' quarters and space for Andrew Carnegie's philanthropic efforts."


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