A Young Quarantined Artist Draws the View Outside His Window, Then Imagines the Same View in 1940

A 21-year-old Upper West Side artist named Benjamin M. has been home during the quarantine and he decided to draw the view outside his bedroom window.

His view is dominated by the Schwab House, which is on the block bordered by 74th Street to the north, 73rd Street to the south, Riverside Drive to the west, and West End Avenue to the east. Maltz also drew the same view as if he was sitting in the same room in 1940, when the Schwab House was actually Charles Schwab’s mansion and was known as “Riverside”. The comparison is striking. He explained more about his interest in drawing and history:

“Hey all! My name is Benjamin, and I was born and raised on the Upper West Side. I’ve always liked to draw throughout my 21 years, although recently during quarantine I’ve been combining my artistic inclinations with my love for New York City history. Some time ago I learned that the Schwab House on 73rd-74th Streets between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue (across the street from my apartment) replaced the original Schwab House, a 75-room mansion built for businessman Charles Schwab at the turn of the twentieth century. With that in mind, here are two drawings I made of the view from my bedroom: The first features the current Schwab House (built 1948-50) and the second features the preceding structure (built 1902-06, demolished 1948) drawn amidst present surroundings (themselves relatively unchanged since the 1930s). Oh, to be able to see the river!”

See the drawings below:

HISTORY, NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 27 comments | permalink
    1. Ed says:

      A nice set of renderings! We may be lucky that the mansion was replaced when it was – imagine the monstrosity that might have been designed (and approved) today.

    2. Bob Lamm says:

      Terrific work, Benjamin. Thank you!

    3. Lady Di says:

      Amazing work, Benjamin – am surprised a gallery hasn’t already picked up your collection of drawings already – although I shouldn’t assume this hasn’t happened. There are so many before and after building stories in the city, let alone the upper West Side.

    4. Your Local Booky says:

      Fans of NYC pen-and-ink drawings might ALSO want to check out the book “The City Out My Window”
      …and, no, this is NEITHER an endorsement nor an advert…just a suggestion.

    5. Michael says:

      Beautiful work, Benjamin. Thank you for sharing.

    6. Dan says:

      Benjamin that is really great, my childhood home
      5 Riverside Drive is well represented.
      The brownstones are really terrifically drawn, the detail is magnificent.
      Thanks for this great work.

    7. Brenda says:

      Thank you for these beautiful drawings bringing NYC history to mind.

    8. Robynn D says:

      Very impressive. Coincidentally, I was just discussing the Schwab House with a friend and we researched the Schwab Mansion. It must have been magnificent. Thanks Benjamin for a glimpse into the past

    9. Livable cityfan says:

      Yes, scary think what 60 story monster might replace it today – except if community and local politicians stand strong. I believe the current Schwab house (where friends have lived) far exceeds the allowed density for its block. Imagine that view with more terracing, larger pullbacks from the sidewalk, or a little room for light and air at the top. We live with what we allow, and real estate greed is so powerful against the interests of regular tax payers and citizens.

      • Eric says:

        What Benjamin’s terrific drawings illustrate is that the essential nature of our neighborhood is CHANGE. The existing Schwab House might have been viewed by some in its day as a ’16-story monster, more of which needed to be prevented lest they change the ‘character of the neighborhood’.
        The buildings so many UWSers love and cling to today were yesteryear’s ‘killers of light and air’. The dreaded “60 story monster” you hate is just the next generation of a neighborhood that was once farmland.

    10. liz says:

      Spare me the greedy landlord and developers trope–how many more people can live in NYC because Schwab House replaced a single family home? But kudos to Benjamin for his charming drawings and do keep the Rag informed about your work and any potential shows, Thanks for brightening my day!

    11. Lydia Wilen says:

      Benjamin, your work is incredible. Thank you for sharing your talent and imagination with us. You will see the river one of these days.

    12. Tim says:

      Lovely work, Benjamin. And thanks for including the scruffy boxwoods on our terrace in the far upper right of your “today” drawing. But I’ve got a third drawing you might want to take on: the Orphan Asylum Society. Built in 1840, Schwab bought it in 1901 for the unheard of sum of $865,000 and tore it down to make room for his little bungalow. Of course, if you go back that far in time, you’ll have to re-draw all the surrounding buildings as well.


      • Leda says:

        VERY interesting story in this link. I’d love to see Benjamin draw the orphan asylum! Really interesting piece WSR and Benjamin!

    13. Barbara says:

      I love this! Your drawings are amazing.

    14. Harriet says:

      I love the drawings and the idea.

    15. Peter Salwen says:

      Nice work, Benjamin! You could also (if the idea appeals) push the clock back a bit further, lose the RSD apartment houses and get in more river view. BTW, the Museum of the City of New York has a picture of the Schwab mansion {“Charlie’s Place”) painted by George Gershwin from his penthouse on the Drive.

      • Tim says:

        Peter: Do you know if there is an image of that Gershwin painting online? I’d love to see it.

    16. Valerie Warner says:

      Great work Benjamin! This is a great concept for a book or an ongoing column on NYC, then and now!

    17. Nadine Elizabeth Kellogg says:

      Beautiful rendition – – thank you for sharing! You have a true appreciation for our great city.

    18. pjcpw says:

      If I were on the Schwab board, I’d contact Benjamin to purchase those excellent drawings—framed, they’d be perfect for the building’s lobby.

    19. Ron Frank says:

      Great renderings. Wondering if Benjamin is getting any formal training. If he likes architectural drawings, Rick Brosen at the Art Students League specializes in teaching watercolor architectural drawings. He ought to check it out 😜

    20. Randy says:

      Beautiful drawings, Benjamin. What a great idea!