The Battle of Carnegie Hill; They Are Worlds Apart, but Manhattan and Dunfermline Have One Inextricable Link - the Legacy of Billionaire Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Today Two Very Separate Wars against Property Developers Are Being Waged 3000 Miles Apart

By Croce, Maria | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), February 12, 2000 | Go to article overview

The Battle of Carnegie Hill; They Are Worlds Apart, but Manhattan and Dunfermline Have One Inextricable Link - the Legacy of Billionaire Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Today Two Very Separate Wars against Property Developers Are Being Waged 3000 Miles Apart


Croce, Maria, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


SCOTS-BORN steel baron Andrew Carnegie gave his name to libraries, municipal baths, two music halls and a world-wide charitable trust.

Now, 81 years after the death of the one-time richest man in the world, a battle has broken out over preserving the posh New York City neighbourhood he made his home and which was named after him.

In an extraordinary twist, 3000 miles from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, residents in Carnegie's birthplace of Dunfermline are also fighting a battle against property developers.

But while the Manhattan campaign has money, prestige and - more importantly - celebrities on its side, the Fife fighters have nothing but their desire to keep a historic part of their town intact.

Of all New York City's swanky districts, and there are many, Carnegie Hill is the swankiest.

It was the original uptown refuge of Manhattan's millionaires and its current residents are among those outraged by a plan to build a 17-storey tower block in the area, a large part of which is designated a historic district to prevent further development.

They are so outraged that this week they marched on City Hall to demand a re- think and preserve the part of the Big Apple which exists because of Carnegie's determination to seek some privacy all those years ago.

His desire for solitude has been repeated by many celebrities in the years since.

You only have to take a walk past the brownstone buildings which line Carnegie Hill and you could bump into Woody Allen taking in the atmosphere in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum - an imposing mansion where Carnegie himself used to live.

Or you might find Bette Midler trying out the knishes - popular dumpling snacks - in the local deli.

Kevin Kline lives nearby, as does Paul Newman. Madonna also reportedly checked out the neighbourhood with a view to buying.

Star-spotters could keep an eye out for Scottish jazz singer Annie Ross and Sound of Music star Julie Andrews. Actress star- turned-singer Jennifer Lopez is a resident, as is her on-off rap producer boyfriend Puff Daddy.

Even Mohamed Al Fayed calls this neck of the woods home when he drops by.

Tycoon Donald Trump has connections - the ex Mrs Trumps, Ivana and Marla Maples, are living off their divorce settlements here.

Carnegie Hill is within walking distance of Fifth Avenue and fashionable department stores such as Saks and designer boutiques such as Gucci, but removed from the noise of midtown.

In short, this is the place to go for the person who has everything.

Near the turn of the century, when the area was considered the frontier of the city, Carnegie decided he would build himself a place to get away from the bustle of downtown.

Carnegie lived for more than three decades in Millionaires' Row. First he was in a brownstone next to the Vanderbilt chateau at 51st Street before he had his own 64- room mansion built on 91st Street.

He found ostentatious living distasteful, but he also believed the homes of some millionaires should show all that is best in literature and the arts.

Carnegie insisted on the most technologically-advanced equipment for his steel mills and his home was a marvel of modern technology, boasting a hi-tech heating system.

Unfortunately, the plan for some peace and quiet backfired. Other members of the upper class, seeing Carnegie's new mansion as a brave statement, followed him uptown.

That desire to remain upwardly mobile lies behind the proposal by the Tamarkin company to raise a 190ft tower block above the local Citibank, which objectors say would detract from the area's character.

Once Carnegie's fellow millionaires followed him uptown, the neighbourhood's character changed significantly.

Gone were many of the rows of houses and tenements. In their place sprang up mansions and luxury apartment complexes in various architectural styles. …

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