Townhouses were erected in Manhattan during the 1800s, with much of the construction above 59th street beginning in the 1860s and later.The Federal Style was popular from 1800-1835. According to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Rowhouse Manual, this townhouse style was characterized by modest scale and simple architectural ornament inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The houses are two to three stories with basement and attic half story with dormer windows. The roof is slated and there is a brownstone base with a red brick upper facade.
Greek Revival & Gothic Revival Styles
The Greek Revival Style was popular from 1830 to 1850. This style is characterized by simple and bold architectural elements imitating Greek motifs. And in the period from 1840 – 1860, the Gothic Revival Style was popular, characterized by architectural elements inspired by organic and natural forms, medievalism and the picturesque.
Italianate & Anglo-Italiante Styles
In the 1860s, the style that was most popular on the Upper East Side was the Italianate Style with its ubiquitous chocolate brownstone facing; this style was built elsewhere in the city from 1840-1870. These houses are not copies of Italian Renaissance buildings , rather their massing and detail are loosely based on Renaissance forms. Also popular during this period (1840-1860) was the Anglo-Italianate Style.
The Second Empire and Neo Grec Styles
The Second Empire Style, similar to Italianate was popular from 1860-1875, followed by Neo Grec, was characterized by extremely stylized classical details. The lush curving ornaments of the Italianate style were supplanted by angular, stylized forms and incised detail.
The Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival Styles
The Queen Anne Style from 1870-1890 ushered in a new freedom in residential design. Popularized in England, the townhouse fronts combine features from a variety of historical styles and materials. Most buildings are clad in red brick and are trimmed with rough and smooth stone, terra cotta, wood and slate shingles and iron. This style is particularly common on the West Side.Also popular during the 1870s through 1890s was the Romanesque Revival Style identified by the prevalence of heavy round arched openings and asymmetry.
Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts, and English Neo-Classical Styles
From the 1880s through the early 1900s, popular styles included Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts and English Neo-Classical. The course of American architecture changed dramatically in the 1890s, especially following the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 with renewed interest in the symmetry and balance of classical and renaissance architecture. The Beaux – Arts Style, in particular, resembles buildings erected in French cities during the final decades of the 19th century.