New York, New York

Upper East Side Historic Architecture

with Michael H.

3 reviews

Michael H.

Style: Classic

Recognized as an exclusive residential community for more than 100 years, the Upper East Side has one of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S. There are residential hotels, private clubs, houses of worship, a Moorish inspired Synagogue, and a prototypical Armory. There are 5 historic districts that contain great examples of styles such as Italianate, Federal, Gothic, Modern, Art Deco and Italian Renaissance. We will walk by some of the best shopping in NYC. I will point out any notable shops and stop for the best Macaroon in NYC and the Plaza Food Hall. We can do any of a variety of districts up to 2 hours. Other dates/times by appointment.

Hotels that were built primarily as residential establishments with luxury suites. At the turn of the century, it was customary for members of the Vanderbilt family to present their children with expensive townhouses as wedding gifts. One daughter got an extraordinary Beaux-Arts style townhouse, and her sister's has the finest oak doors with ornate carved moldings.

Industrialist Henry Clay Frick wanted a house that could be converted into a museum for his collection. He intended for it to be opened to the public after he and his wife died. A 1915 census showed the couple, their daughter, and 27 servants resided in this former-house on Fifth Avenue.

The Joseph and Kate Pulitzer house is one of New York's finest urban mansions. Window shopping along Madison Avenue includes; Graff Diamonds, David Yurman, Maubossin, Jimmy Choo, Roberto Cavalli, Longchamp, Soigne K, Jo Malone, Vacheron Constantin, Oscar De La Renta, Fred Leighton, J Crew, Carolina Herrara, and Ralph Lauren.

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Michael H.

Michael is an experienced urban planner and design architect with significant experience in the resort and tourism market. His work has included architecture and planning projects, including Red Sky Ranch Member + Guest Clubhouses (Eagle County, CO); Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail; and a new base ski village for Breckenridge Mountain Resort, in Colorado. Serving as a preservation planning consultant to the New York City Department of City Planning, he completed work on design guidelines and signage recommendations for the Coney Island Redevelopment Master Plan, Brooklyn, NY. Prior international planning experience includes the Master Plan for the Lulu Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, U.A. E. Prior architectural experience includes the Doubletree Hotel, Tarrytown, NY (2005); and the Parker Meridien Hotel / Spa / Conference Center, Palm Springs, CA (2004). He is currently consulting on architecture, planning, and historic preservation projects in New York City. Full profile

3 Reviews

Lisa G.

A great tour not to be missed! Michael Hirsch, architect, historian and preservationist, does an incredible job of walking us through the many remarkable gems on the Upper East Side that have beem predominantly but unintentionally overlooked by other guides. The Upper East Side is a neighborhood often walked by many but Michael is terrific at highlighting what we might see every day but not fully appreciate without his knowledge of the archetypal building styles and the people and organizations that have inhabited them over the years. I highly recommend this to everyone interested in an educational and entertaining walk!

Jeff Tastes

Michael took us on a tour through the Upper East Side. Even though I live in Queens and work in Manhattan, I neeeever go to the UES. It was cool to see all the historic buildings and houses, see where the richest of the rich bought houses for their children's wedding present (which they never even lived in). Michael lives in the neighborhood, so having a local is great for guideship.


I have been a real estate professional for over 20 years and have lived in the Upper East Side for the last decade, and I tend to be very aware of buildings and their histories in my neighborhood. Yet in this walking tour guided by Michael Hirsch, I was made aware of architectural details I had never noticed and given the back-story of many amazing structures built throughout the last couple of centuries. This tour gives you more than an appreciation of the structures themselves, it gives color and depth to the society that created many of them, from the exclusive private clubs to the mansions of the Gilded Age that required 25-30 servants for a family of 2 or 3. You gain insight into the exorbitance of wedding gifts and the extravagance of a day gone by. In addition, you learn about the varying styles of architecture and the materials and motifs that were popular in different eras. If you live in NYC and want to learn more about your home, or if you are visiting and need to make the most of your time, this tour is DEFINITELY worthwhile! Take the time to walk the streets where Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Carnegie lived. Stroll by hotels where history has been made; peer into the past of the most exclusive private clubs in the country and learn more about the fabulous Frick Museum.

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