Walking around the 57th Street area east of Columbus Circle, where there are so many gigantic towers going up at the moment, it’s easy to forget that there are still some handsome buildings of “normal” height still remaining in the area built in a more genteel (at least outwardly) era from our own.
The idea of the modern apartment house, originally called a “French flat” was introduced in NYC in the 1870s, and by the 1880s apartment buildings, in which several individuals and/or families could reside independently at the same time, were going up on the newly populated Manhattan side streets by the dozens.
I had originally thought the Sire Building (identified by the title on the pediment) may have something to do with the Sire record label helmed by Seymour Stein, the home of a number of new-wave acts until its best-selling artist, Madonna, arrived in the early 1980s. However it’s not named for that Sire. In 1884, Benjamin Sire hired architect William Graul to build this 5-story apartment building at 211 West 58th, just east of Broadway. At one time, at 5 stories, it must have been one of the taller buildings in the area.
Over the years the ground floor has hosted a Studebaker car dealership, a pet shop, a piano museum and at present, Beethoven, a retail piano store.