Height of Luxury: The Progressive Growth of Manhattan’s Skyline

For 51 years, The Waldorf Astoria, built in 1931 at its current 301 Park Avenue location, was Manhattan’s tallest residential tower, up until the completion of Metropolitan Tower in 1982. With the Sherry-Netherland, which predates both buildings and was the city’s tallest in 1927, it seems the history of claiming name to New York City’s tallest building was implemented early in the city's history, and was meant to be, possibly, treated as a competition. But the development boom wouldn’t get underway until approximately 2011, when a consistent turnout of newer, taller skyscrapers would extend the limits and heights of the city’s historic skyline.

By 2019, Manhattan will welcome two new skyscrapers to the fold, 111 West 57th Street, slated for completion in 2018, and Central Park Tower, slated for 2019, each of which will, respectively, become the second-tallest and tallest residential towers in New York City. (One Vanderbilt, expected to top off at 1,500 ft, will be taller than 111 West 57th Street; however, the building is only proposed.)

But if you have your heart set on one of these skyscrapers, or simply prefer buildings of comparatively modest heights, there’s a great selection in the city with apartments up for grabs.

From the tallest and downward:

432 Park Avenue

Currently the tallest residential building not only in New York City, 432 Park Avenue isn’t exactly for the acrophobic, with the building topping off at 1,396 ft. But, it’s possible that coping with a fear of heights is a small price to pay when acknowledging the stellar views the building offers up.

Developed by CIM Group and Macklowe Properties with Rafael Viñoly serving as the design architect, 432 Park Avenue’s head-to-toe glassiness may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in all consideration, its design choice serves a clear purpose of emphasizing just how high up you are, and there’s no denying that it’s successful in doing so.

Photo credit to Frank Poon

But for all of 432 Park Avenue’s pride in its height, the resident is embraced with special care to providing the privacy one may otherwise find questionable in such intimate living. (Examples of private amenities include the private restaurant, an elevator landing for every apartment, and a massage therapy room — if it’s total relaxation that you seek.)


A few minutes walk on Billionaire’s Row from 432 Park Avenue, just before 7th Avenue, you’ll hit One57. Built in 2014 and partially used as a hotel, the building features an exterior designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc with interiors by Danish designer Thomas Juul-Hansen.

It’s another residential building that takes pride in its height (1,004 ft), and while shorter than 432 Park Avenue, residents can still enjoy views of the entire borough of Manhattan. (Website visitors can also experience what living the high life may look like.)

And yet, the height it lacks in comparison is made up for by the seemingly never-ending amenities, featuring: a pet wash room, full catering kitchen, screening and performance room, library with billiards table (and 24 ft aquarium), arts and crafts atelier room, among others.

The Trump World Tower

The third tallest residential building in the city at 861 ft, Trump World Tower was once the tallest residential building in the world, holding the title from 2001–2003. Located in Midtown East and adjacent to the United Nations Headquarters, the building’s astounding luxury flows from the landscaped public plaza right into the marble-dressed lobby.

With 10 to 16 ft ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows in the apartments, the building’s height emphasis is loud and clear. Promising river or city views, there’s also a hosts of amenities that were tailored to rival those offered at five-star hotels, which include a 60-foot swimming pool, private wine cellar, private spa and health club, 24-hour doorman, and a world-class Japanese restaurant.

City Spire

Close to One57 and the smallest featured building at 814 ft, City Spire boasts the same great location of Midtown West, perfectly situated near Central Park, the Theatre District, Fifth Avenue, Carnegie Hall, and plenty of retail and restaurant options.

Located at 150 West 56th Street, City Spire is the oldest of the group, built in 1987, but it possesses just as much charm, which can be found in its unique shape. Unlike the mentioned residences, this building is topped off by a dome that is said to be an homage to the New York City Center which is close by. The upper levels of the building — the first 23 floors are reserved as office space — take on an octagonal floor plans, adding character to the crown jewel, the Penthouse that occupies the 73rd, 74th, and 75th floors. (The 72nd serves as an apartment for guests that is separate from the penthouse.) Laying claim to the penthouse ensures a distinctive home in comparison to the classic, square and rectangle floor plans of the other buildings.

Yes, the wait for 111 West 57th Street and Central Park Tower may appear unbelievably extensive but New York City’s (once) tallest residential buildings are in the here and now, ready to show you the city from greater heights.