New York City History

Each year, hundreds of New York's distinguished apartment buildings built between 1900 and 1920 will be celebrating their 100th anniversary, an occasion of note and certainly worthy of celebrating.

While many tenants and owners think they know the history of their building, initial research and oral history typically results in a few facts on the architecture or some vague tidbits on former tenants.

Do you really know all the historical details about your building
and its former occupants?

We can help!

Allow us to investigate and perform an intensive search through New York City archives, building permits, census records, biographical books, genealogical sources, libraries, ship manifests, the New York Times and other newspapers to unlock the history and mystery of your building!

The results of our research are written and lavishly illustrated into a lengthy booklet that chronologically traces every aspect of your building; pre-existing buildings or mansions on your site and who owned them, construction of your building with architect’s biography and building list, and research into census records every ten years to reveal everyone that once lived there, and what they did for a living. The report is a fun, fact-filled, cited, and ready to post on your website and distribute to owners, tenants, and perhaps most importantly to real estate agents and potential buyers of units in your building. Our report on the Riverdale can be downloaded in pdf form as a sample of our work: its nearly 20,000 words and 70 images spread over 59 pages.

We took what little was known about 67 Riverside Drive (at 79th Street) and found that the building was constructed between 1905 and 1907 with the name The Riverdale, and was built on the site of a coal yard that was the subject of a society scandal both before and after the apartment building was built. We tracked down three living relatives of the builder, John Louis Miller, who had been born in the building themselves and who provided many exceptional rare and intriguing vintage photographs of the Miller family and the building itself at the time of its opening in 1907. We fully documented architect George F. Pelham, builder John L. Miller, site filming of the original movie Manchurian Candidate, past tenants and owners, revealing that the Riverdale was once home to:

  • Ellen “Nelly’ Grant Sartoris, the only daughter of President Ulysses S. Grant;
  • Willi & Flora Spiegelberg, one of the earliest successful pioneers of New Mexico;
  • Alfred Eisenbach, Eisenbach & Brothers, Furriers;
  • Edgar Lehman, Furrier;
  • Julius Cohn, Cigar Manufacturer;
  • Spruille K. Braden & Family, Distinguished Diplomat;
  • Frederic Lucas and Family, Director of the American Museum of Natural History;
  • Saxon King, Actor;
  • Henry Dix, Clothing Manufacturer;
  • Isaac Stern, Musician;
  • Alexander Zakin, Pianist;
  • Ben Gazzara, Actor;
  • And hundreds of others!

Accolades for the Riverdale Report:

"Nice job tracing a guy named John Miller!" - Christopher Gray, NY Times

"The book looks GREAT! My mother would be so pleased to know that someone has taken the time to collect the history of the building where she spent her early years." - G. Wilmer