ansonia roof

The Ansonia appears to be getting a new coat of paint, according to this photo sent in by a reader on Friday. The historic building on Broadway between 73rd and 74th streets now has a section of burnt umber.

Perhaps this is a touch-up, or part of some restoration project. In my mind’s eye, the dome is dark green, and that’s how it appears in photographs like this one. But other photos make it look black, and sometimes it appears to be white, or even wintergreen.

Saul Bellow, who set his novel Seize the Day in the building, also noticed that its color seemed to shift:

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.45.50 PM

What I’m saying is, if I’m confused at least I’m in good company. Anyone know what’s going on?

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 13 comments | permalink
    1. Ethan says:

      The Insania works in mysterious ways.

    2. Erica says:

      It could be primer.

    3. webot says:

      how about a restoration of the original cupolas …..i can dream can’t i…..

    4. denton says:

      The correct (historically and otherwise) material to do this work would be copper. It’s a tiny photo posted, but that has the color of new copper (like a new penny). As it ages, it turns into a nice shade of light green, as the north-facing turret at the ‘green’ link (but note the south turret is black.)

      The Ansonia was rent-controlled for a long time, right? Which means there is no money for repairs. lol. The detailed photo in the ‘black’ link seems to me to be a bit older. However what that looks like to me is simple. When copper flashing/cladding starts to leak, and the owner is not inclined to replace/repair the cladding properly, they will basically just smear it all over with bituminous coating like roofing cement. That will fix the leaks even if it looks like sh*t.

      Even in the ‘black’ link you will note there are some areas elsewhere that have the telltale green color of weathered copper.

      I’ll have to go take a look.

      • Alex says:

        “In 1992 the Ansonia was converted to a condominium apartment building with 430 apartments. By 2007, most of the rent-controlled tenants had moved out, and the small apartments were sold to buyers who purchased clusters of small apartments and threw them together to recreate the grand apartments of the building’s glory days, with carefully restored Beaux-Arts details.”

    5. Sam Stone says:

      I posted this on the Facebook page of a friend who lived in the apartment under the turret on the 73rd Street corner for like 40 years until about ten years ago and this was her reply : Peggy – Some years ago, the then-new (and I guess still current) owners painted the domes and mansards with black tar, hoping to alleviate roof leaks. Replacing those areas with copper (which the Historical Society and the tenants wanted done) was going to be costly and impractical because very few contractors work in copper anymore, and those who do would demand huge insurance coverage, so the tar became an acceptable compromise.

      • denton says:

        SamStone, that pretty much confirms what I said above, except your friend probably got sold a bill of goods by the landlord. Working with copper is not particularly old world or difficult, I could easily give someone the name of a contractor who does. And it’s the landlord who requests insurance from the contractor, not the other way around. Copper does require brazing, so that may raise the insurance cost a bit, but then again, roofing cement requires a heat source to melt it also. Basically, the landlord took the cheap way out because the rent-controlled tenant roll doesn’t allow for first class repairs.

    6. ScooterStan says:

      Ummm, that photo has an extremely shallow Depth of Field (area in sharp focus). Achshooly, Most of it is blurred.

      Either the lens was set to an extremely wide aperture (low number, like f2.8 or f1.4) or somebody left schmutz on the lens.

      Then again, it was probably an “Oy-phone”(yech!) snapshot.

      Real photogs shun Oy-phones !!

      • denton says:

        Worse, it’s probably a cameraphone or app with the photo run thru one of those ‘toy camera’ apps to give the effect you noted.

    7. Rich says:

      Note to Saul Bellow. Stanford White had nothing to do with the Ansonia Hotel. It was designed by French architect Paul E. Duboy.

    8. Anyone……….? Ever hear of P R I M E R paint ??

      Next freak out please….!

    9. Gretchen says:

      Oh brother, here we go again with more misinformation about the Ansonia. First of all, Saul Bellow (or his book editors) should have done some research. Stanford White was NOT the architect. It was French architect Paul Duboy, of Graves & Duboy, who also designed the Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Riverside Drive. Furthermore, the roof is in the midst of much needed renovation and is incomplete. The colors referred to are most likely sealants and protective coats before the final coat is completed. And finally, there were never any chickens on the roof.

    10. It was def shot with an iPhone while walking to 123. Not an attempt at pro photography. Just used the filter to highlight the paint and was curious about the renovations. Hoping that they were being restored to copper versus black tar. Seems a shame but who am i to judge? I simply rent on the UWS but LOVE the neighborhood and find the Ansonia fascinating. Glad to see so much feedback though!