In 1953 a stunning luxury apartment building was constructed on Indian Road across the street from Inwood Hill Park.
With sweeping park views, a glimmering art deco lobby and country-like setting, 25 Indian Road quickly became, and remains, one of the most sought after addresses in northern Manhattan.
In the original real estate brochure, agent Herbert Charles provided the following description:
“Commanding a magnificent view of River Basin, the wooded slopes of the Palisades and picturesque George Washington Bridge, this fine new modern elevator apartment building will combine the rare advantages of a smart town residence and a delightful country setting.
Accessible location, within a few minutes of Times Square via the 8th Avenue subway—adjacent to Inwood Park and Baker Field.
Suites of 2, 3 ½, 4 ½ and 5 rooms, with one and two baths. Large, hospitable rooms, their appearance of spaciousness enhanced by large foyer and separate dining rooms. 25 INDIAN ROAD incorporates such features as venetian blinds, room-sized foyers, sliding door closets and the most modern of kitchen and bathroom equipment.”
The project, which cost the developer, the Isham Park Realty Corporation, some $450,000 to build, was designed by architectural visionary Horace Ginsbern.
And, if the soul of a building lies in it’s creator’s mind, then 25 Indian Road has one complicated psyche.
Ginsbern, the so-called “genius of the Bronx,” was born Horace Ginsberg in Minsk, Russia around 1900. At the age of seven, his family immigrated to New York, where Horace would spend the rest of his life.
Ginsbern studied at both the Cooper Union and Columbia before starting out on his own in the architectural trade. During a career that spanned some four decades, his firm, Horace Ginsbern and Associates, located on 205 East 42nd Street, would be responsible for the design of more than 140 buildings in Manhattan and the Bronx.
According to historian Constance Rosenblum, Ginsbern was “a driven and demanding individual with a huge ego, a man as difficult as he was gifted.” (Source: Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse).
“A short man…Ginsbern had a round face, dark eyes, and a small mustache whose resemblance to Hitler’s did not go unremarked upon,” Rosenblum wrote of the eccentric Jewish architect.
“He worked hard, talked shop endlessly, and lived as hard as he worked, consuming great quantities of scotch, often from the bar in his office, along with cigarettes and pastrami sandwiches.” (Source: Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse).
Ginsbern’s art-deco creations included the Security Mutual Insurance Company and apartment houses on the Grand Concourse, Rockefeller University’s Faculty House apartments and many others.
In addition to 25 Indian Road, other local Ginsbern buildings include 580 West 215th Street and 4720 Broadway (also known as 105 Arden Street).
Of course no description of Ginsbern would be complete without mention of his commercial venture with Chock Full O’Nuts that virtually redefined the coffee company.
Incorporating the company’s signature red, yellow and black color scheme Ginsbern designed an instantly recognizable storefront meant to mimic the chain’s function as a vendor of small package goods. The design was such a success that Ginsbern was later hired by the Hanscom’s bakery chain for which he designed a candy apple green porcelain façade punctuated with modern block letters.
So what became of Horace Ginsbern, “The Genius of the Bronx,” whose left his imprint on so many New York City neighborhoods?
A drinker, a smoker and serious gambler, those who knew the man were none too surprised when he died of a heart ailment at the relatively early age of sixty-nine.
Although his obituary failed to mention his architectural masterpieces that lined the Grand Concourse—the Bronx was in a devastating state of decline when Ginsberg passed away in 1969—his buildings remain a testament to his life’s work.
If you are interested in researching the history of your own building a good place to begin is the wonderful on-line collection of vintage real estate brochures maintained by the Columbia University Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. According to the website, “the collection consists of over 9,200 advertising brochures, floor plans, price lists, and related materials that document residential and commercial real estate development in the five boroughs of New York and outlying vicinities from the 1920s to the 1970s.”
Also, if you are considering buying or selling an apartment in 25 Indian Road, 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)
My 5th grade daughters are doing genealogy projects for school, so I have been looking around the internet to learn more about my great uncle, Horace Ginsberg. He was big brother to my grandmother Fanny Ginsberg Stieglitz. This has been very interesting! I often have dreams about architecture…windows, doors and beams are of more important that any characters.
Oona – I am Horace’s grandson, John Ginsbern. Would love to connect with you and we can both learn more about our extended family. Hopefully you will get this. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org