316 Fifth Avenue, The Kaskel Building

Possibly the most sumptuous commercial building of its size and type remaining in New York, the incredible Kaskel Building at 316 Fifth Avenue is also one of the most flagrantly wrecked.

Created for the stylish men’s fashion firm of Kaskel & Kaskel by the architect Charles I. Berg, this astonishing 1902 pile suggests the robust domestic architecture sprouting at the same period on the Central Park blocks of Fifth and provided a stark contrast with the then dominant brownstone facades in the district.  Berg’s own domestic designs included Glynallyn, a magnificent Tudor/Arts & Crafts mash-up in Morristown, NJ.

One of the first buildings to incorporate electric light into its show windows, 316 Fifth Avenue housed its eponymous firm until 1922, when Kaskel & Kaskel moved uptown.  Its current deplorable state could pose a creative challenge – and a publicity and business-generating result – to the right owner.

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