Most New Yorkers are torn between having the city’s amenities at their doorstep or living in a place that’s tranquil enough for chilling when certain charms lose their luster. Quiet and convenient are often mutually exclusive, but not so in Tudor City. The hum of the city is replaced by an almost suburban calm that allows for sleeping with the windows open. People out with their dogs, couples in a hurry, or children at play in the park complete the illusion of this urban oasis.
The tiny neighborhood is famous for its castle-like apartment buildings in the Tudor revival style designed by architects Fred French and H. Douglas Ives. While the Windsor is topped by an actual replica of a Tudor castle, each building is different, unified by dark brick as well as exquisite stone detail and sculptures of coats of arms, dragons, and other mythic creatures. In the center of the neighborhood are two parks, the Tudor City Greens, and small adjacent playgrounds. Even though the small parks are divided by 42nd Street, which sits in a trench 50 feet below the elevated neighborhood, the green space forms a courtyard for the neighborhood, providing an abundance of greenery for the area’s 5,000 residents. “It’s so serene and quiet here,” says Patsy Agee, an administrator for 20 years at the neighboring United Nations. “I come over here during lunch. The park is very pretty and the post office is convenient.”
Boundaries: Originally built between 1925–28 as a self-contained middle-class enclave next to a stockyard (which explains why there are so few windows facing the East River), Tudor City’s 11 apartment buildings and Crown Plaza Hotel sit upon an elevated platform perched between 40th and 43rd streets and First and Second avenues. It is joined to the north by Turtle Bay, to the west by Midtown, and to the south by Murray Hill and the Midtown Tunnel. The U.N. is to the east.
Transportation: If you’re not walking to work, you can catch the No. 4, 5, 6, and 7, as well as the S, at Grand Central, which is just three blocks away. For those who want to stay above ground, the M15 bus goes down Second Avenue and up First. The M42 goes across the island on 42nd street. The little-known Entrance Street leads directly from the Tudor City Gardens parking garage to the entrance of the Midtown Tunnel.
Main Drags: Second Avenue has a plethora of stores, nail salons, bars, restaurants, and high rise office buildings.
Average Price to Rent: According to real-estate agent Steve Corcoran (no relation to Barbara), most of the apartments are co-ops. “It’s gotten very hot recently because it’s probably the best quality of life around,” says Corcoran, “especially when you consider the bang for the buck.” Studios rent from $1,300 to $1,500. One-bedrooms from $1,900 to $2,100. Two-bedrooms from $2,600 to $2,900. Three-bedrooms are $4,000 and up. It’s not uncommon to come across people that have lived here for decades, but the neighborhood is becoming more mixed, with young professionals and students moving into the more reasonably priced units.
Average Price to Buy: Studios run from $175,000 to $250,000. One-bedrooms go for between $275,000 and $325,000. Two-bedrooms can be anywhere between $400,000 and $800,000. The rare three-bedroom’s asking price is $900,000 to $1 million. Penthouses sell for over $1 million.
Landmarks: The neighborhood itself was designated a historic district in 1988. Of course, just across First Avenue is the United Nations, which is the only entity strong enough to punch a hole in the serenity of the neighborhood. When the U.N. is in session, the streets become blocked off and locals need to present IDs to get home. With the diplomats come the protesters—you can also find them making a ruckus in certain nearby areas.
Community Hangouts: On sunny days, people head to the Tudor City Greens. But you’ll also find old couples and mothers with children sitting at the two tables at Tudor Gourmet, a tiny deli that sells coffee, food, sweets, and other things to eat. Here you find the regulars greeted by name.
Green Space: The Tudor City Greens are cared for by the non-profit Tudor City Greens, Inc. The north and south parks are set up like English-style gardens with fountains, winding paths, and park benches. These are officially listed as private parks, but unlike Gramercy Park, the gates are open and there are no Keep Out signs posted. The U.N. Park and East River Promenade are steps away.
Best Resturants: There are several delis on the ground floors of the apartment buildings. For those that want a more refined dining experience, chef–co-owner Scott Conant’s high-end Italian cooking at L’Impero (45 Tudor City Place, 212-599-5045) attracts foodies from all over the city as well as nearby U.N. people. “The food is fabulous and the service is great too,” says customer Gretchen Holt. “What they did really honors the neighborhood with great food, but they don’t try and make the interior look like an old manor house.” There’s a few tables set up outside as well. Just look for the green Vespa permanently parked out front and you’ve found it. Reservations are recommended.
Best Stores: Sometimes location isn’t everything. Conrad’s Bike Shop (25 Tudor City Pl, 212-697-6966) has been located on the ground floor of Tudor Tower for 30 years. About the size of a large one-bedroom apartment, the store mostly caters to a serious road bike and racing clientele. Over the years they’ve built bikes for Dustin Hoffman, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Romano (chef at Union Square Café), and Bob Weir (singer for the Dead). “People sort of find us,” says counterman John Tsang. Along with the bike store are the aforementioned delis, a nail salon, a Great Cuts hair salon, a dry cleaners, the charming little post office, and strangely, a balloon store. Like the bike shop, Michael George Flowers (5 Tudor City Place, 212-883-0304) caters to a high-end clientele. The shop and its owner’s taste for elegant but simple arrangements have been featured in national magazines like Vogue, House Beautiful, Harper’s Bazaar, and Martha Stewart Living.
Politicians: City Councilman Eva S. Moskowitz, State Assemblyman Steven Sanders, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Congressman Carolyn B. Maloney (all Democrats).
Crime Stats: Since all but one of the buildings have 24-hour doorman service, there is, according to Corcoran, no crime to speak of in the apartments or on the streets. Nonetheless, the 17th Precinct serves Tudor City as well as much of the eastern half of midtown. As of April 11, the 17th reported zero murders (same as last year); three rapes, up two from the previous year to date; 25 robberies, down 6; 18 felonious assaults, down 5; 53 burglaries, up 6. Overall, crime is up 4.2 percent in the precinct.