Navarro Flats



Navarro Flats


The old Navarro Flats or the Central Park Apartment Buildings were a complex of eight palatial apartment buildings located in Central Park South at Seventh Avenue, in New York City. It was constructed by Spanish entrepreneur Jose Francisco de Navarro (1823-1909). It was also known as the Spanish Flats.

Navarro bought the lots in 1881 and 1882. The site was 201 feet by 425 feet. The Central Park Building Company was organized by Navarro to construct the buildings. The Navarro Flats were designed by Hubert, Pirsson & Co., the same firm that designed the Chelsea apartment house, completed in 1885. Construction of the Navarro Flats began about 1883. It was comprised of eight separate apartment buildings: the Madrid, the Cordova, the Granada, the Valencia, the Lisbon, the Barcelona, the Saragossa and the Tolosa. Each one was 13 stories high and many of the apartments were duplexes. The buildings were erected around a large court-yard. The apartments were completed in phases from 1884 to after 1888. According to the New York Times (November 11, 1888), the site was unexceptionable. The houses were admirably planned and thoroughly well built, and, as object of architecture, arrest the attention of all visitors to the city.

Despite the publicity, the apartments were difficult to sell. By 1886, Navarro was in financial problems and the apartment buildings were sold at auction in November 1888, with some buildings incomplete. The purchaser was J.J. McComb, the plaintiff.
In 1921, a leasing syndicate, known as Central Park South Realty Company, closed a long-term lease on the Navarro Flats with an option to purchase within three years. The owner of the property was James Jennings McComb estate.

Intention to demolish the Navarro Flats to be replaced with a skyscraper hotel was announced in November, 1922, in the New York Times. The Navarro Flats were demolished in 1926. They were replaced by the Hampshire House, the Essex House and the New York Athletic Club.


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Navarro Flats, 59th Street, facing Central Park. Source: The New Metropolis edited by E Idell Zeisloft, 1899. Text on print: «FIFTY-NINTH STREET is another great crosstown thoroughfare; between Eighth and Fifth Avenues it is known as Central Park South. Here there are superb apartment houses, famous hotels and clubs. The most noted of the apartments are the Navarro on the corner of Seventh Avenue, a row of great buildings with huge inner courts. Here one may rent suites of rooms up to eight thousand dollars a year, unfurnished. These are "double-decker flats," each being built on two floors, the sleeping rooms being above the living and reception apartments. No apartments in New York are finer than these. From all the windows of these blocks there is a superb view over the green of Central Park.»




Title: Central Park Apartment Buildings, formerly Navarro Flats, Central Park South, Seventh Avenue, Fifty-eighth and Fifty-ninth Streets, opposite Central Park [looking west]. Photo from the King''s Views of New York City, 1903 (NYPL). Text on print: A most imposing pile of intensely substantial buildings. Elaborated Spanish architecture, with Moorish arches, numerous balconies, grand entrances, and highly ornamented facades. Unsurpassed interior appointments. Apartments, single and double floor. Built for the wealthiest classes. Eight independent buildings. Built by Navarro, on co-operative plan. Owned by the James Jennings McComb Estate.


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Part of West 59th Street seen from Central Park before the construction of Navarro Flats. Fragment of illustration by George Schlegel. Copyright 1873.


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Navarro Flats. Illustration from Shepp's New York City Illustrated, 1894.


The court-yard of the Navarro Flats. Illustration from The Cliff Dwellers of New York, published by The Cosmopolitan Publishing Company, 1893.


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Navarro Flats