797 Lexington Avenue

797 Lexington Avenue

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts is proud to announce the expansion of the Upper East Side Historic District on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. In conjunction with the official listing of the district, FRIENDS developed this web exhibit to share our research and findings with as wide an audience as possible. In this site, you can browse through a catalogue of all 197 buildings within the expansion. This searchable directory contains information on the original construction of the building, including the architect and cost, alterations from the time of construction through the 1950’s as well as our conditions survey and photographs. As part of the exhibit, we have included a historical narrative highlighting families and their boarders on East 65th Street, vintage photographs of rowhouses, shopfronts and apartment buildings as well as historic maps. You can also download the full National Register nomination, which includes a history of the entire Upper East Side Historic District with a listing of over a thousand buildings.

FRIENDS initiated this project to celebrate and protect the excellence of the historic architecture of Lexington Avenue and the adjoining residential side streets. Lexington Avenue, one of the last “great streets” in New York City, is such an important artery on the Upper East Side, it is surprising that very little of it is included in the original historic district. Although the architecture is simpler than in other parts of the Upper East Side Historic District, the building stock is nonetheless of a high quality including low-rise historic buildings with commercial storefronts, small apartment buildings and elegant 5-6 story rowhouses.

Between 2001 and 2003, FRIENDS launched this project with an initial survey undertaken by community volunteers of over 450 buildings along Lexington Avenue and the residential side streets between East 59th and East 79th Streets. Over the next year, we examined hundreds of records at the New York City Department of Buildings to research information such as the date of construction, the original architect and owner as well as details on alterations each building has undergone. Thanks to the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, we were able to hire an intern to transmit all of this material into a workable database, which became the foundation of this website.

In 2005, FRIENDS used these findings to prepare a New York State and National Register nomination for the expansion of the Upper East Side Historic District. In consultation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (SHPO) and our consultant Claudia Cooney, a Senior Planner and Historian at Allee King Rosen & Fleming, Inc., FRIENDS meticulously evaluated the survey and research to establish the boundaries of the expansion. It was determined that the original State and National historic district, designated in 1984, would increase by 17 blocks in two separate areas contiguous to the original district. The largest section of the expansion extends from East 60th Street to East 65th Street, taking in buildings located on the blocks between Lexington and Third Avenues. A small expansion to the north spans the area from the south side of East 72nd Street to the north side of East 75th Street. Of the initial 450 surveyed buildings, the total in the expansion consists of 163 contributing buildings and 34 non-contributing buildings. A non-contributing building does not add to the historic associations or historic architectural qualities of the district because it was not built during the period of significance or has undergone alterations, additions, or other changes so that it no longer possesses historic integrity or it does not independently meet the National Register criteria. However, such a building lies within the boundaries of the historic district.

View looking northeast of Lexington Avenue

View looking northeast of Lexington
Avenue between E. 64 and E. 65th Streets

We would like to let our visitors know that listing on the National and State Registers of Historic Places is different from designation by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. This type of listing is not regulatory and there are many benefits for property owners of contributing buildings within a listed district. A contributing building listed on a Register provides an official recognition that a property is of significance to the nation, the state, or the local community and raises the community’s awareness and pride in the past. In addition, owners of historic commercial and rental properties listed on the National Register may qualify for a preservation tax credit. Not-for-profit organizations and municipalities that own listed properties are eligible to apply for New York State historic preservation grants and funding from other private sources. For more information on these benefits, contact the Historic Preservation Field Services at (518) 237-8643 or log on to the OPRHP website at www.nyparks.state.ny.us.

Please email us at info@friends-ues.org if you have historical information on a building listed in the catalogue or if you have any comments or questions. Check back at our website for updates on news and events.

We hope you enjoy the exhibit!


This program is supported by:

Public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Samuel H. Kress Foundation
Preserve New York, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts.