THAT HAPPENED HERE
by Scott McCulley & Tracy Kaler
|The Ansonia–-photo by James Maher|
The Ansonia, at at 2109 Broadway between 73rd and 74th Streets on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, has an interesting and fascinating past. Originally built to be a luxury hotel at the turn of the century with large living spaces and multiple bedrooms in each unit, it was converted to mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments mid-century. The Ansonia’s architectural detailing includes its Beaux-Arts-style facade, Parisian-style mansard roof, and round corner towers or turrets. It has a large circular staircase with a domed skylight at the top, and is thought to have the widest interior hallways of any apartment building in Manhattan.
The grandiose building was nearly torn down in the 1960s; the musicians and artists living there fought the proposed demolition plan and saved it. One of the true gems of the Upper West Side, The Ansonia was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Bette Midler started her singing career at the infamous “Continental Baths” (located in the basement of the Ansonia in the 1960s and 1970s), with Barry Manilow as her accompanist. In 1977, the gay bathhouse became “Plato’s Retreat”, a swingers club for heterosexual couples.
|Bette Midler —via Wikipedia|
The Black Sox Scandal, devised to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series, was implemented there. First baseman Arnold “Chick” Gandil was one of the minds behind the operation. Gandil lived in the Ansonia and supposedly held a meeting with the players to strategize losing the games. Eight baseball players form the Chicago White Sox were forbidden to ever play the sport again, and the Cincinnati Reds won the series.
The thriller movie Single White Female with Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh used The Ansonia as their apartment location. The apartment scenes were filmed in a studio, but the hallway scenes were filmed in the actual building.
The new drama 666 Park Avenue uses The Ansonia as the stand-in residence for the fictitious hoity- toity Park Avenue address, also known as The Drake in the series,
The show premieres this coming Sunday, 9/30 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST.
Famous residents of The Ansonia have included: Igor Stravinsky, Babe Ruth, Angelina Jolie, and Natalie Portman.