From “I Love Lucy” and “The Jeffersons” to “Gossip Girl,” the Upper East Side has long found a home on TV screens as the setting of choice for New Yorkers who have made it. Contrary to its rarefied reputation, however, homes in the neighborhood range from extravagant to surprisingly affordable (by Manhattan standards, anyway). It all depends on where you look.
Weary of the maddening crowds in Central Park, the Guggenheim and the Met? Head to Yorkville and the calmer confines of Carl Schurz Park, or indulge in some lowbrow culture at Comic Strip Live and the numerous dive bars dotting Second Avenue.
But make no mistake: Old money still reigns supreme here. As the city’s culture changes virtually moment-to-moment, there remains a dignified charm about the Uptown neighborhood that serves as a quiet, gentle reminder of class and taste.
The Select Spaces team has chosen these five luxury homes for sale now that embody the poised je-ne-sais-quois of the Upper East.
Understated, Elegant, Sophisticated
795 5th Avenue, Unit 2704 | 2 BR | $12.5 million
“UES” doesn’t just stand for “Upper East Side.” Our first listing hails from the Hotel Pierre on 795 5th Avenue. This co-op on the cusp of Central Park is the platonic ideal of understated New York elegance. The living room features a deep color palette with just the right amount of old money ornamentation. A wood-burning fireplace is framed in polished black, which picks up the custom-designed crown molding. For the ladies who lunch but know better than to gossip in public, this living room offers warmth, privacy, sunrises and sunsets. The black-and-white bathroom is an Art Deco masterpiece, connected to a mirrored dressing suite that would make even Carrie Bradshaw consider moving uptown.
48 East 81st Street | 6 BR | $22 million
“Money talks, wealth whispers,” they say. You don’t have to be loud to stand out in a crowd, and you don’t have to reject modernity to embrace tradition — case in point: the five-story townhouse at 48 East 81st Street. We’ll start with the bathroom — which one? The one with the neon green sink. Not quite a shout, not quite a murmur, but loud enough to echo the green tile backsplash in one of the others. The blue room turns it up a notch, but remains firmly grounded in stateliness with an intricately carved white fireplace. A punch of color here and there never hurt anyone — just ask our editors.
33 East 70th Street, Unit 10D | 8 BR | $12 million
The ascetic aesthetic of this listing is anything but anaesthetic. Alliteration aside, this austere apartment is the apotheosis of the age-old adage, “less is more.” At least, it’s as austere as an abode with amenities such as a 24-hour doorman, gym, bicycle room can be.
Take minimalist design to its logical conclusion and you’ll find yourself in the kitchen of 33 East 70th Street. If money talks and wealth whispers, then the sleek cabinetry must be barely audible. For those who find colors too loud, a floating staircase is accented by a glass railing and oak wood steps, playing off the oversized windows. Despite its commitment to Apollonian minimalism, the all-white wet bar allows for more Dionysian activities, as do the two half-bathrooms of the grand gallery (which, I’m told, are called “powder rooms” for a reason).
Something old — and new
825 5th Avenue, Unit 17AB | 2 BR | $7.5 million
It’s in the name — this jewelry box apartment at 825 5th Avenue is a not-so-hidden gem of Upper East Side opulence. We are living in a material world, and if you’re a material girl, you’ll be happy to know that this gut-renovated home is just steps away from the Madison Avenue outposts of Givenchy, Manolo Blahnik and Hermés. Skip breakfast at Tiffany’s and instead do brunch at the Plaza Hotel, also nearby.
While there are no semi-precious stones here (you’ll have to go to the Diamond District for those), there are stone floors with radiant heat, eliminating any possibility of cold feet. Rough day at the office? Have yourself a soak in the en-suite bathroom and you’ll find yourself surrounded on all sides by swirls of marble from Santorini, which I’m told is a lovely place for a honeymoon. Borrowed from East Asian design is the Japanese black pine finishing in the walls of the lobby. For something blue, open the French doors to the Juliet balcony and gaze up at your view of the Manhattan sky.
54 East 64th Street | 6 BR | $48 million
For serene, sunny interiors with an artistic edge, look no further than 54 East 64th Street. This townhouse is outfitted with state-of-the-art mechanical systems as well as furnishings and artwork that bring together old and new sensibilities. An antique English white Carrera marble mantel on the fireplace juxtaposes nicely with the artfully tangled mess of wires from the ceiling lights in the dining area. Curated chaos definitely has its place on the foyer wall scattered with intersecting lines. Display paintings throughout the home and tell your guests to start from the top and work their way down the smooth white staircase — your own, personal Guggenheim.