In 1902, at the height of his wealth, American steel magnate Charles M. Schwab attempted to outdo his fellow captains of industry. That was the year Schwab built the largest and most magnificent mansion Manhattan has ever seen at the tremendous cost of $6 million. As usual, Ephemeral New York has the skinny.
Not wanting to be constrained to Fifth Avenue, Schwab opted to build on Riverside Drive at a time many thought it would become the new “Millionaire’s Row.” His 86-room “chateau” would eventually consume the entire block between 73rd and 74th Streets. In its day, the house boasted three elevators, a gym, an indoor pool, a chapel, a bowling alley, elaborate gardens, its own power plant and a nearly 200-foot tall tower with stunning Hudson River views.
But as the Guilded Age faded, the area declined, and in 1939 Schwab offered his mansion to the city of New York. He hoped that the city might preserve the house as the official residence of the mayor. But then mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declined his gift.
Schwab’s mansion was then sold in 1947, and bulldozed shortly after. What replaced this spectacular home? A forgettable brick apartment building. We wonder if Howard Roark was behind this.