50 Park Terrace East: The Embassy

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At the dawn of the 1940’s the R.F.N. Construction Corporation, based on Waldo Avenue in the Bronx, announced that a new six-story apartment building would soon rise from an empty lot located at 50 Park Terrace East.

50 Park Terrace East real estate brochure, circa 1940. (Source: Columbia University Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library)

The new building, to be called “The Embassy,” was to be designed by architect Charles Kreymborg.

The Kreymborg & Son architectural firm had built dozens of apartment houses in Inwood and Washington Heights. One of their buildings, 57 Park Terrace West, stood right around the corner on 215th Street.

1937 aerial showing Park Terrace area building boom.

During the planning phases of 50 Park Terrace East the Park Terrace area was experiencing a building boom the likes of which the area had never seen. In the late 1930’s an enormous mansion, that stood across the street, had been razed to make room for the 400 unit Park Terrace Gardens apartment complex.

50 Park Terrace East real estate brochure, circa 1940. (Source: Columbia University Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library)

Since neighboring buildings had top of the line modern conveniences, the builders of The Embassy knew they too must wow would be tenants if they were to compete with neighboring apartment houses.

According to an early real estate brochure, “The Embassy is located on the highest point in Manhattan one half block from beautiful Inwood Park and playgrounds.”

Of course if their neighbor to the west offered penthouse apartments with rooftop access, The Embassy would not be out-rivaled, if only on paper.

Inwood is not the highest point in Manhattan, nor would The Embassy ever equip itself with terraced penthouse apartments.

But the copy was pure gold.

50 Park Terrace East in 1978.

According to the prospectus, “Every apartment affords an unobstructed view, and all are ideally laid out in suites of 1 ½ to 4 rooms. Particularly noteworthy are the Terrace Apartments. Roof Garden for the exclusive use of tenants.”

50 Park Terrace East real estate brochure, circa 1940. (Source: Columbia University Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library)

Other promised amenities were to include:
• Interhouse telephone
• Glass Enclosed stall showers in many apartments
• Concealed radiation
• Incinerators
• Modern elevators
• Frigidaire Refrigeration
• Unusually large foyers
• Clothes hampers
• Interviewers
• Modern table top gas ranges
• Concealed clothes dryers
• Mail chutes
• Uniformed doorman service
• Recreation room
• Metal cabinets under sink
• Spacious closets
• Dining alcoves
• Improved radio outlets
• Oil burner assuring even clean heat
• Medicine cabinets built into walls
• Modern tile bathrooms
• Dropped living rooms
• Ultra-modern kitchen arrangements
• Convenient to schools, shopping and churches
• 2 blocks from 6th Avenue Subway
• One block from 7th Avenue subway

The most stunning revelation came when The Embassy opened its doors in the autumn of 1941—the architect had been swapped out at the last moment.

As it turns out, Kreymborg did not do the job.

New York Times, September 24, 1941.

When the New York Times announced the opening of the 50 Park Terrace East in late September the newspaper named Theodore E. Heindsmann as The Embassy’s architect.

Perhaps a death in the family led to the last minute switcheroo. The father and business partner of The Embassy’s initial architect, Charles Kreymborg, passed away in April of 1941.

E. P. Chrystie, Source, The Brickbuilder, 1909.

While no resident has ever enjoyed a roof deck atop the 72 unit red brick building overlooking a quiet tree-lined street, the Embassy did have one famous tenant, E. P. Chrystie, who was renowned for creating stunning New York views of his own.

Best known for his historical charcoal sketches of lower Manhattan, Edward Punnett Chrystie was both inspired and enamored by the historic Inwood in which he lived.

Chrystie, a practicing architect, artist and photographer, was born in 1887 and fought with distinction in World War 1. He died in 1960 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Seaman Drake arch in 1923 photo by Edward Punnett Chrystie.

During his time in the neighborhood, he took countless photos of Inwood Hill Park, Fort Tryon and even this spectacular photo the Seaman-Drake arch which still stands today on 215th and Broadway.

E. P. Chrystie, “Last Week of the 1940 Fair.”

Chrystie’s pastels of the 1940 World’s Fair remain highly collectible.

Edward Chrystie obituary, New York Times, October 25, 1960.
E. P. Chrystie charcoal sketch.

Even today, given the abundance of artists in the neighborhood, I’m sure Chrystie would likely feel right at home in present day Inwood.

50 Park Terrace East, The Embassy, in 2013.

And 50 Park Terrace East is where old E.P. hung his hat.

If you are interested in buying or selling an apartment in 50 Park Terrace East, please contact me using the below form.  I am a licensed real estate salesperson with New Heights Realty and Inwood is my backyard.  (All inquiries will be kept confidential)

Contact Cole Thompson

4 COMMENTS

  1. My family and I lived in that apartment house , 50 Park Terrace East, from1943 to 1950. I remember a lot about it. I found our apt. layout. Thank you for the information.

  2. My Dad lived in that building around the same time as the above-writer. Born in Munich in 1931 he and his parents escaped to England at the very end of 1938 and then on NY in 1941. First in Washington Heights and then Inwood his bedroom at The Embassy overlooked the steps from Park Terrace down to Broadway. He graduated GWHS in 1948 and married my Mom, a Park Terrace Gardens resident in 1954. We lived at 77 PTE.

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