Fire Consumes Car Outside Historic Building

A fire erupted early on Friday morning in front of one of the Upper West Side’s most historic buildings — the Dorilton at 171 West 71st Street. The fire consumed a car and some trash nearby, but no injuries were reported, according to the FDNY. It started at 4:59 a.m. and was put out by one unit. It’s not clear how it started.

Here is the Dorilton, built from 1900-1902, in a calmer moment:

NEWS | 21 comments | permalink
    1. Robert Sheridan says:

      That building was the background in several scenes of the 1971 Al Pacino film “The Panic in Needle Park” when his ill-fated group would convene on the Broadway center-island bench.

    2. UWS_nb says:

      Just a correction. The fire started at 2:59 am. I live across the street and looked at the clock when i heard a huge boom

    3. I grew up in the Dorilton.
      My dad, Albert Pels, was an exhibiting fine artist and taught art in half of our giant apartment, we lived in the back part. It grew into an art school needing more space so we moved to the apartment above the school. He ultimately moved school and family to the Ansonia.

    4. Wendijo says:

      The Dorilton exterior was the building in the drama series 666 Park Aavenue, which aired in 2012. The UWS obviously has the finest architecture.

    5. jms says:

      Like most people who have seen it, I’ve long adored this spectacular structure. Andrew Dolkart, in his “Guide to New York City Landmarks”, called the Dolrilton “the most flamboyant apartment house in New York,” a description with which I’ve never quibbled.

      Surely today’s conflagration only burnishes that flamboyance.

    6. Jay says:

      Historic home of Weber’s, the dollar store.

      And because Weber’s was there when the building was landmarked, Fidelity could get away with installing its box sign since it matches, in dimensions, the vertical Weber’s sign.

      • LL says:

        Weber’s was there for that long? Wait. Want it on 73rd and Broadway? My mom would take me and my brother there and we would hunt. We got like 3 backpacks there that lasted us through high school

        • Jay says:


          Weber’s was there when the building was landmarked in 1989. The amount of time Weber’s had been there as of 1989 is immaterial to the landmarking designation.

          Fidelity Mutual fund took advantage of that fact to put up a box sign that has the added feature of filling with water during any heavy rain storm. Some times it freezes into a block of ice on the inside. You can determine these 2 “special” qualities of the vertical Fidelity box sign by measuring how long it drips after any significant rain; it’s usually on the order of 15 hours, so long enough for the temp to drop well below freezing and the water to turn solid.

          Also: The Dorilton is at West 71st and Broadway on the northeast corner, the Apple Bank is at West 73rd and Broadway on the northeast corner. Needle Park (Verdi Square) is the southeast corner.

          • Geoff says:

            Verdi Square is often cited as the park in ‘Panic in Needle Park’ but that is inaccurate.

            ‘Needle Park’ was actually Sherman Square, at the south end of the ‘bowtie’ intersection.

            • Jay says:


              I had wondered if it were Sherman Square, “park”, but there’s not really a park there, just a tiny triangle.

              Whereas Verdi Square is a small (now larger because of the new subway block) park, AND there were crack dealers there until the early 2000s, before the subway station was expanded into the uptown/east lane of Broadway between 72nd and 73rd Streets.

            • jms says:

              Basically. There are three Needle Parks:

              1. The original, as named by junkies & first documented by James Mills in his article “The World of Needle Park” (LIFE, 1965-02-26), the basis for his 1966 novel _The Panic in Needle Park_ (which inspired the 1971 film). From Chapter 3: “Of those hundreds of locations outside Harlem, one of the most typical is located at the corner of 71st Street where Broadway pushes through Amsterdam Avenue on its diagonal slice across Manhattan. To subway riders who use the stop there, the intersection is Sherman Square. To the drug addicts it is ‘Needle Park.'” (cont.)

            • jms says:

              “Nothing justifies the word ‘park’ except four or five park benches stuck together on a tiny concrete island at the center of the intersection,” ends the novel excerpt.

              2. The place depicted in the film version, which I haven’t watched since my tender teenage years but which, judging from several on-line photos, would actually be the Broadway traffic median northeast of Sherman Square, not the square itself.

              3. The “Needle Park” of current common usage, which many sources claim refers to the area in/around both Sherman & Verdi Squares. This may be more the result of confusion than anything else!

      • jezbel says:

        I loved Webers. Used to stop in every time I walked past. I still have some of the tools I bought there. Helped my son build is childhood train lay-out with a beloved set of needle-nose pliers I picked up there for about $1. Sometimes memories are able to move into the future along with the rest of your life.

    7. Back to 1900s says:

      My ex-boyfriend of Italian descendant liked to stop at 71st street traffic light while sitting in his black Mustang. He said the view of Dorilton is stunning. Mediterranean elegance, balanced coloring, museum-level sculptures attached to the facade.
      As pedestrian, I’d like to sit on public bench and watch Dorilton for hours. The traffic light and other pedestrians always push me to move away quicker.
      The life of New York City is strenuous.

    8. Bryan says:

      The Dorilton is so incredibly Upper West Side classic andstunning. If you think of the talent it took to build something in the early half of the 20th century that still is regarded as stunning it does say something,ornate colorful and gorgeous

    9. Ellen Shell says:

      So many UWS residents choose to live here because of the wonderful historic architecture. Why all this talk about reimagining Broadway with “upzoning” is so troubling to so many.

    10. unabis says:

      I think it’s awful that such old, historical buildings are not protected enough so that such things do not happen to them. I understand that perhaps it was not deliberate arson, but a building with such a long history could have been destroyed by this fire. Although, maybe I’m exaggerating and just really love old buildings and history, don’t you think that we are not protecting such places enough? I hope that this did not leave behind major destruction and the building was not badly damaged.

    11. Lisa says:

      It would be nice to know what caused this fire, wouldn’t it?