Building is part of a large complex New York Architecture Images-Upper West Side

Park West Village


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP


392 Central Park West to Amsterdam Ave, W97 to W100.




International Style II  


seven red-brick slab towers built by Webb & Knapp, the development company of William Zeckendorf


Apartment Building





One of the city's largest and most controversial "urban renewal" projects, Park West Village was initially known as Manhattantown and then West Park Apartments.

In his book, "Public Works: A Dangerous Trade," (McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1970), the imperious master builder Robert Moses, who had been the City Construction Coordinator and the chairman of the city's Committee on Slum Clearance when the project was initiated, recalled that:

"The project was conceived in the spring of 1949 when seven local civic organizations joined to form the West Side Housing Committee. Later that year, the committee reported on their findings and requested action on a slum clearance and public housing project for the Bloomingdale section west of Central Park. In June of 1950, Congressman Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr., whose 20th Congressional District embraced this area, started to translate the report into concrete action. Because of the high assessed valuation of the land, an initial request to the New York City Housing Authority was not granted, but a subsequent request prepared in accordance with Title I and directed to the Slum Clearance Committee was viewed favorably."

"Manhattantown was the first massive renewal project to be scrutinized on a cost-benefit basis that took into serious consideration the plight of those living on the site," noted Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman in their book, "New York 1960," (The Monacelli Press, 1995).

"Opponents of the project," they continued, "argued that the city's current residents would not benefit from the renewal process because dwelling units proposed for the seventeen twenty-story buildings [in the original plan] would not only be too expensive but would also represent a significant reduction in the amount of housing presently available on the site. It was not statistical analysis, however, but charges of rampant corruption running throughout the entire Title 1 slum clearance program in New York that compromised Manhattantown. After charges of corruption led to an investigation in the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency in the fall of 1954, Mayor Wagner banned future work for five years on Title 1 projects of all initial private participants in Manhattantown, including the architect Melvin E. Kessler of S. J. Kessler & Sons, who had taken an equity position in the development and whose fees had been misrepresented in the sponsors' public filings. Moses's deals with developers had come to reek of cronyism, and he had let Manhattantown drag on for years as the first developers milked the project by collecting rents from on-site tenants living in condemned housing, which the temporary landlords were not obliged to maintain to any decent standard. As a result of the Title 1 scandals, and those surrounding the Manhattantown project in particular, Moses and his high-handed approach began to be carefully examined in the press..."

In his exhaustive, fascinating and vitriolic book, "The Power Broker, Robert Moses And The Fall Of New York, (Alfred A. Knopf, 1974), author Robert Caro documents in great detail the history of this project:

"The Manhattantown area was a slum area. Its people were poor; the average weekly income was sixty dollars per family. Its buildings were old; there hadn't been a new building constructed in it in twenty-five years. Most of them were overcrowded with families of five or six members jammed into apartments that should have held no more than three or four, and many were dilapidated. But the area also was stable, settled, friendly....The Mayor's Slum Clearance Committee had handed over to Caspert and Company six square blocks of Manhattan real estate, worth $15,000,000, for $1,000,000....[in 1956,] Manhattantown, Inc., whose tax arrears had now topped $600,000 and were rising every day, had, because its officers had been siphoning out the money as fast as it came in, none available to pay the taxes any time in the foreseeable future,...there was also no money in sight to pay the interest on the $2,000,000 mortgage Moses had persuaded the city to give them, let alone the amortization,...that there was no money in sight to build any of the buildings the corporation had, more than five years before, contracted to build....Moses had no choice. On June 11, the Slum Clearance Committee asked the Board of Estimate to institute foreclosure proceedings and take back the property in the name of the city so that it could be turned over to a new sponsor....Under the arrangement, Webb & Knapp would not merely insure Manhattantown's principals against any liability to the city. It would buy out the two principal stockholders - Seymour Milstein and Jack Ferman (Caspert having prudently sold out before the company's collapse) - for $533,250, and put them on Webb & Knapp's payroll as `consultants' for five years at a fee of $30,000 a year, a total of $150,000 more. These two men, key figures in Manhattantown since its inception, were not merely being allowed, after five years of delay - five years during which they had made fortunes - to slip quietly into the night without punishment. They were also being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. And this money was not for all their stock. Under the Moses-approved arrangements, Ferman and Milstein would be given sizable stockholdings - between them a total of 32 percent - in Webb & Knapp's Manhattantown subsidiary....Outcry in the press - the afternoon press, primarily - apparently panicked the administration" and portions of the arrangement were subsequently revised. (Seymour Milstein would go on eventually with his brother, Paul, to become one of the city's major developers and landlords.)

The Manhattantown "revelations," Caro continued, "hardly touched Robert Moses at all. The fear and awe in which he was held by reporters, rewritemen, copy editors and city editors was never more evident than on the day following the Senate hearing on Manhattantown and in the days that followed. Robert Moses had conceived the Manhattan project. He had directed its planning. He had selected the cast of characters who ran it. He had shifted the cast around when the political winds in the city shifted. It was a Robert Moses project from beginning to end. The [New York] Times story on Manhattantown did not mention Robert Moses once...."