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About Posh Portals

“The entrance to an apartment house is that important first impression, the opening sentence of the architectural story that sets the mood of the apartment building. A successful apartment house entrance must perform several functions, all of which must be kept in a delicate balance, consistent with the program that the developer has laid out for the architect to fulfill. The entrance is the dividing line between public and private space. It must make clear to the passer-by that he may approach and enter only if he has legitimate business within. Yet that entrance cannot be as forbidding as a fort, nor as evidently guarded as a prison, as it provides entrée to the homes of its residents, who may be the hosts of the approaching visitors.”

That is how noted architectural historian Andrew Alpern sums up the critical role of a well-designed apartment building’s front door. He has put into words what I’ve observed with my camera over the years: Some doors are merely utilitarian; some make a statement.

Here, then, is a collection of New York City’s most luxurious and distinctive apartment buildings, each endowed by their architect with entrances that speak volumes. While these Posh Portals are no accident, my role in this collection is definitely a case of serendipity.

Your humble photographer was walking south along New York City’s Central Park West, an avenue lined with magnificent architecture. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a distinguished-looking gentleman sitting on a bench across from the famed Dakota; there was something familiar about him . . . A few steps later it clicked: “Andrew?” I asked, approaching the bench. “Ken?” he replied. Until this morning, we had only seen photos of each other, though we had conversed almost five months about photos for his book, “The Dakota – A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building.” He was waiting for a friend, and Andrew described a project he and Australian artist Simon Fieldhouse were discussing, an illustrated guide to the elaborate and ornate entrances to New York’s luxury apartment buildings. They’d need a good source of photos . . .

And so, from this chance meeting on a sunny January 13, 2014, my camera and I became part of Posh Portals. It’s been fun, educational, and sometimes challenging: Photographing buildings from street level in New York puts you at the mercy of the sun, traffic, parked trucks, and scaffolding that sometimes stays in place for years. The project took less than six minutes to describe, more than six years to complete, and was worth every second.

Andrew Alpern is a noted architectural historian with numerous books to his credit; he’s a sought-after expert at Landmarks Preservation Commission hearings, and particularly expert at the development of luxury apartment buildings. His text provides the architectural context for each residence. Sydney-based Simon Fieldhouse works in pen and watercolors to illustrate historical architecture from around the world. For this collection, Simon’s witty characters add scale and charm.

You’ll never take your front door for granted again.

If, by chance, you've discovered this page without having the book, you can get a copy via this link to Posh Portals. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

All of my photos from the book (and a few extras) are available as framed/unframed prints and cards; just browse the galleries below. 

The watercolor drawings by Simon Fieldhouse are not included here; contact the artist at www.simonfieldhouse.com.

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