Photo of the Ansonia by Jeffrey Zeldman
Today, the Upper West Side‘s Ansonia is considered one of the city’s most iconic and prestigious addresses. With former residents ranging from Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gustav Mahler, Babe Ruth and more recently Natalie Portman, its history reaches far back. And along its more than century-old ride, it’s no surprise that it has also attracted plenty of strange activity, including playing host to what probably was the city’s first rooftop farm in 1904 and a debaucherous sex club known as Plato’s Retreat. While there’s lots of ground to cover when looking back on this 111-year-old building, we decided to tap an insider for his take on this storied structure.
Michel Madie of Michel Madie Real Estate Services has over the years become an unofficial historian of sorts to the Ansonia. Madie moved from France to New York in 1984 and almost immediately fell in love with the French-inspired building. However, being near-penniless at the time, the thought of ever taking up space in such a grand building seemed like just a dream. But as he found success in the real estate business, he focused his attention on the Ansonia. He eventually purchased an apartment and then spent decades tending to the architecture, restoring its original layouts and recreating original finishes and fixtures in the building’s many units whenever the opportunity would arise. During this time, Madie also learned a thing or two about the residence, stories which he shares with 6sqft ahead.