Emery Roth, the prolific New York City architect, designed many distinctive buildings in the 1920s and ’30s. Roth was born to a Jewish innkeeper in Hungary, one of eight children. When Roth was just a boy his father and his family plunged into poverty. In 1884, when Roth was 13 he boarded a steamer for America . Roth survived by shining shoes and working odd jobs. Later he became a skilled draftsman and was hired to design façades for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. It was Chicago where Roth met Richard Morris Hunt, known as the “dean of American architects.” In Roth moved to New York and jointed join Hunt’s studio, which counted wealthy New York families like the Vanderbilts and the Astors as clients. In 1898, he struck out on his own, buying a small architectural firm for $1,000.
Architect Emery Roth’s two most ambitious projects, the Beresford and the San Remo, both on Central Park West, were built during an economic meltdown.
Facing Central Park and just steps away from the American Museum of Natural History, The Beresford is one of the world’s most exclusive and celebrated fully serviced residential buildings.
In September 1929, a few weeks before the stock market crash, a three-towered apartment building in late Italian Renaissance style opened on the corner of Central Park West and 81st Street. Beresford takes its name from the Hotel Beresford, which had occupied the site since 1889. The Beresford sits twenty-two stories tall with three illuminated towers, two main facades and three separate entrances.
The 175 apartments are large, with ceiling heights ranging from 10 feet on the lower ﬂoors to 12 feet on the upper, terraced ﬂoors. Many were designed as duplexes and most have ﬁreplaces. The Beresford was one of the ﬁrst in the city to have glass-door showers with multiple shower heads and some bedrooms are as large as 18 by 28 feet.
The Beresford had its ups and downs. According to "Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan," the building had a hard time dealing with the effects of the Great Depression. In 1940, it was sold in tandem with the San Remo Apartments for a total of $25,000 over the mortgages for the two buildings. In 1962, the Beresford became a co-op.
The building has been called home by comedians (Jerry Seinfeld), athletes (John McEnroe), musicians (Diana Ross) and of course, good old-fashioned rich people. Today, the Beresford is home to moguls and superstars.