Sutton Place is usually described with favorable words like charming, cozy, great neighborhood, hidden gem, sanctuary, or even small village inside a big city. Those descriptions aren’t from real estate folks either, they’re from the people that live and work there, so it must be true.
The quiet and upscale neighborhood is more like an enclave. It’s bounded by East 53rd Street to the south, East 59th Street to the North, First Avenue to the west, and the East River to the east. Most residents will tell you that everything you’ll ever need is located in the neighborhood. When it’s time to venture out into the cityscape, Sutton Place is within easy reach to Midtown and cultural attractions like the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, Central Park and other iconic sites.
Manhattan has always had notable celebrity residents. But for unknown reasons, Sutton Place has had more than its share of superstars over the years. Some of the more iconic celebs include: Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, Freddie Mercury, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Crawford, Michael Jackson and sister Latoya (Just for one summer).
Sutton Place is named after Effingham B. Sutton, a shipping merchant and entrepreneur. After hitting it big in the California gold rush, Sutton built brownstones along East 57th and East 58th streets with aspirations of making the section more residential. Poverty and crime dashed his dreams. The street gangs that hung out along the dead-ends and cul-de-sacs added to the neighborhood’s decay. Sutton was about to give up on his development endeavors but the Vanderbilt’s and the Morgan’s showed up in the 1920s and transformed the neighborhood. It soon became a wealthy enclave.
Most of the neighborhood’s side streets are residential, so you’ll be pressed to find any businesses or places to eat. Just wander along First and Second Avenues and you’ll notice there is no shortage of commerce. Bistro Vendome on 58th Street, just east of First Avenue is a good starting point. It nails the classical European bistro. We love the multi-level townhouse with its charming outdoor terrace. And their food is phenomenal.
Sutton East Tennis Club – Has 8 newly surfaced clay courts within a climate-controlled environment. The spot has 6 doubles courts and two singles courts. You’ve probably seen the white tent-like structure while walking through Sutton Place. They offer lessons and tennis clinics for all levels of players.
Who needs Central Park when you have five waterfront parks to choose from. They’re a little off the beaten path and perhaps not as well known as other parks in Manhattan but they are worth the trip. They’re scattered along the East River promenade between 53th and 58th Streets. Run by the Sutton Parks Conservancy, they offer countless benches, community events, views of passing ships, manicured landscapes and monarch butterfly gardens. Perfect place to read a book or have morning coffee.
What you Might See
You’ll see the East River and the Ed Koch / Queensboro Bridge. You’ll see a lot of colorful pre-war townhouses and apartment buildings. Cul-de-sacs are also a prominent feature in Sutton Place. Back in the day they were inhabited by a street gang called the Dead-End Kids but now they are full of flowers and million dollar townhouses. You won’t see an influx of pedestrian traffic compared to Midtown and other areas of the city.
What You Don’t Know
There is a nice little pocket park at the end of East 57th Street. You can watch the sunset and also rub a boar's nose for good luck. Don’t worry, it's not a real boar. It’s a bronze copy of a famous work of art by Renaissance sculpture, Pietro Tacca. The original is from the 16th Century and resides in Italy.
Sutton Place is often referred to as Little London because of the pre-war townhouses that mirror London’s Belgravia and Eaton Square neighborhood. Especially near Sutton Place South, the section below East 57th Street.