91 Payson Avenue: An Art Deco Masterpiece

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91 Payson Avenue real estate brochure. Courtesy of the New York Real Estate Brochure Collection,  Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
91 Payson Avenue real estate brochure. Courtesy of the New York Real Estate Brochure Collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

In 1935 a new apartment house opened on 91 Payson Avenue in the Inwood section of Manhattan.

The stunning apartment building, named “Payson House,” cost  $250,000 to erect.

91 Payson Avenue, New York Sun,  February 11, 1935.
91 Payson Avenue, New York Sun, February 11, 1935.
91 Payson Avenue, Inwood, New York City.
91 Payson Avenue, Inwood, New York City.

Today, the co-op building, across the street from Inwood Hill Park, is one of the finest examples of art deco design in northern Manhattan.

91 Payson Avenue entrance, Inwood, New York City.
91 Payson Avenue entrance, Inwood, New York City.

Stepping into the lobby of the six-story brick building, designed by George G. Miller, is like entering a jewel box.

91 Payson Avenue lobby, Inwood, New York City.
91 Payson Avenue lobby, Inwood, New York City.
91 Payson Avenue lobby, Inwood, New York City.
91 Payson Avenue lobby, Inwood, New York City.
91 Payson Avenue lobby, Inwood, New York City.
91 Payson Avenue lobby, Inwood, New York City.

The curved pink walls, ornately inlaid floors, polished steel doors and aquatic details are reminiscent of tropical ocean liners.  Whimsical fish that decorate a light fixture, designed to look like a ship’s portal, complete the motif.

While 91 Payson Avenue does not have landmark status, the newly restored lobby serves as an inspiration for deco enthusiasts awestruck by this homage to a jazzier age.

91 Payson Avenue real estate brochure. Courtesy of the New York Real Estate Brochure Collection,  Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
91 Payson Avenue real estate brochure. Courtesy of the New York Real Estate Brochure Collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
91 Payson Avenue real estate brochure. Courtesy of the New York Real Estate Brochure Collection,  Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
91 Payson Avenue real estate brochure. Courtesy of the New York Real Estate Brochure Collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
Inwood Hill Park entrance across the street from 91 Payson Avenue.
Inwood Hill Park entrance across the street from 91 Payson Avenue.
91 Payson Avenue, parking lot.
91 Payson Avenue, parking lot.

Located blocks from the subway, shopping and a weekly farmers’ market, 91 Payson represents the best of what Inwood can offer.

Fun Fact: In the late 1930’s handwriting expert Arthur Holz, an Austrian refugee, lived in 91 Payson.  Holz, the leading graphologist of his day, profiled the writings of celebrities including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Arturo Toscanini and Neville Chamberlain.

91 Payson resident Arthur Holz, New York Post, December 24, 1938.
91 Payson resident Arthur Holz, New York Post, December 24, 1938.

If you are interested in buying or selling an apartment in 91 Payson Avenue, 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

8 COMMENTS

  1. Lived just up the Payson Avenue hill at number 115. 115 Payson was built just a few short years after 91. We moved in just after 115 was built. Would have been 1940 as I recall. I was only 4 or 5. Rent was $75 a month and the first month was free. I doubt that any more apartment houses were built in Inwood since then. I recently learned from someone who also lived on Payson Avenue then that David Margulies the actor lived at 91 Payson. David’s most recent TV work was as Tony Soprano’s lawyer in The Sopranos HBO series. I grew up with Walter Koenig, another actor. He was Mr. Checkov in the Star Treck TV show and movies.

  2. I lived at 91 Payson Ave. from 1939-1958. Played ball on Beak Street with my friends. I enjoyed the pictures that were sent to me by a George Washington H.S. classmate. Class of 1956.

  3. We lived at 119 Payson Avenue from 1940-1943, then moved to the corner of Seaman Avenue and Dyckman Street, at 11 Seaman Avenue. That building was an easier walk to the stores on Dyckman Street, and to the subway entrance. I remember admiring, even at that age, the beautiful Art Deco embellishments of those Payson Avenue buildings.

    I had a friend who lived in one of the elegant buildings on Beak Street–I forget the exact address–and his apartment had a stepped-down living room, which I regarded as the height of architectural beauty and good taste.

  4. My girlfriend and I spent a few days at 91 payson Avenue last October thanks to a friend 😉 for our first trip to New York. The neighborhood is quiet, and the building of a very nice architecture, is bright and spacious. Facades remind us of a mixture of Flemish architecture, common in northern France, or Belgium and Holland and art deco decor that reminds us of some neighborhoods of Paris. We felt in a peaceful environment, with the opportunity to enjoy a park on the banks of the Hudson. True happiness away from the bustle of Times Square !! Restore this building must be a most rewarding experience;-)
    bons baisers de Paris Chris 😉

  5. We used to play single-double-triple with Spaldeens off the garage door across the street from this building. Then they converted the garage door to aluminum from wood and it was no good any more. One of my young Junior High School 52 teachers lived in that building. I remember him. I liked him.

    Yipes! It says no bike riding on the IHP paths. I practically lived on my bike when I was a kid, and i’d often ride in the park. During the Dinkins and Koch years when NYC was rapidly devolving, forget about bicycles, there’d be stripped stolen cars all over the park, and on a visit in 2001 I saw a pack on small motorcycles.

  6. I was born and grew up in 119 Payson, and had my own apt. in 91 Payson as an adult. It was the greatest area to grow up in in NYC. I remember both Walter Koenig and David Margulies–I was friendly with his sister, Vicky. Those were truly the “good old days.”

    • Hi Irene,

      I have been watching as Cole updates the various My Inwood sites. I believe the “Reply” feature after the posts is new. Wanted to see if this gets to you.

      Jack

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