|Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt II's palatial mansion|
at 1 West 57th Street is towered over by the Heckscher
Building. Circa 1920's.
The most legendary of all the family's New York homes was by far the mansion of Alva's eldest brother-in-law, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the workaholic head of the House of Vanderbilt. He and his former Sunday school teacher wife, Alice, had commissioned George B. Post and Richard Hunt to design their castle, a 130-room palatial fortress occupying one entire block, it still today being the largest home to ever have been built in New York. By the 1920's, with new taxes, a depression, world wars and a severe servant problem, it was becoming nearly impossible to maintain a large New York City mansion. The first to go, quite surprisingly, was Alva's 'petit chateau' in 1926. By that time, the former mansion-stretched Fifth Avenue had now turned into a futuristic, tower-filled commercial empire, casting what remained of the Vanderbilt mansions into the shadows of their neighboring skyscrapers. Here are some of those family's great mansions in the shadows of skyscrapers:
|Florence Vanderbilt Twombly's 70-room palace on the corner|
of 71st Street and Fifth Avenue, circa 1940's. Designed and built
by Whitney Warren, it was the last private residence built on
Fifth Avenue. Mrs. Twombly ~ who maintained residences in
Newport and New Jersey ~ occupied the home every season for
the winter. At the age of 71 when she built the home, Mrs.
Twombly was, by this time, amongst the high matrons of New
York and Newport's "old guard". She died in 1952, and the
home was demolished in 1958.