The actual history of the building is more interesting than the show, which I can't fully enjoy given the distractions of prematurely gray, 33 year old leading man Dave Annable's bad dye job, suspiciously pinched face and, in earlier episodes, facial scruff that'd never be tolerated in real life on an attorney on the Mayor's staff:
I'm also distracted from the show by my personal history with the building.
The actual building used for the exterior and lobby shots is the Ansonia on 73rd and Broadway; in the film "Single White Female," however, they used not only the actual exterior and lobby but the Ansonia's apartment interiors, hallways and laundry room:
The Ansonia's amazing history includes residents as disparate as Babe Ruth and opera singer Enrico Caruso, a working rooftop farm and barnyard designed to make it self-sustaining, a basement which hosted not some satanic cult (yawn) but the most infamous gay and
straight sex clubs of all time, and baronial apartments you could've had for a song 20 years ago.
I used to rent across the street from the building and my storyline runs a bit parallel to one on the show in that one of the Ansonia tenants, a Broadway composer, used to spy on me through my bedroom window, which sort of makes me the manipulative naughty blonde character - except I didn't know about my peeping tom until years later.
This was a few years after the Ansonia consecutively housed two famous bathhouses, the gay "Continental Baths" where Bette Midler often performed with her piano accompanist Barry Manilow, and the straight "Plato's Retreat" run by Larry Levinson, who a few years later became a work colleague of mine - though at the time I didn't realize that the sweet little man with the hacking cough in my office was the infamous former proprietor of the same name.
When I tried to buy an Ansonia apartment it felt more haunted than "666 Park Avenue" because it was largely vacant since the apartments were being warehoused (kept empty once renters left or were bought out) as part of a planned condo conversion. The real life demonic building owner used the huge empty apartments to house his overgrown potted ficus trees - a waste of prime Manhattan real estate more frightening than anything any "666 Park Avenue" writer could conjure up.
The beaux arts hallways and apartment interiors which actually reflect the facade are way, way more architecturally interesting than the bland prewar interior sets used for the show. The southeast tower corner penthouse unit featured as Terry O' Quinn and Vanessa Williams' apartment was actually an enormous, gutted lofty one bedroom apartment with an elliptical foyer with mirrored, concave french doors, a football field sized living room, eat-in kitchen and round bedroom with a leaky ceiling under the tower cupola (alas, no terrace). It could have been yours at the then-stabilized rent of about $300 per month with the proviso that you purchased the unit upon conversion for around $300K - a real win-win situation since you'd get to keep the prime lease at the low rental if the building failed to convert:
Even then I knew better than to enlist the help of my parents for that
apartment, so I approached them for the downpayment for a then-$150K sponsor-renovated small one-bedroom unit with an oval living room and fireplace, which looked similar to this Ansonia apartment, albeit smaller and not as well renovated:
But they refused since they didn't consider New York real estate, even if it was that rarest of birds, a prewar condo,
a good investment, plus ensuring a secure roof over my head and my financial future was immaterial - though at the time because my sister was about to spit out her first kid they gave her
the downpayment on her $150K house in a Tampa suburb, which today over 20 years later is worth...$199K. I'm not sure what typical Ansonia one-bedrooms go for today, but the two-bedrooms start at about $2 Million,
suggesting that any unit I'd have purchased would've increased eightfold.
As for that huge one-bedroom tower apartment? It's probably worth at least $3M today.
Initially, the units seemed to sell slowly; I can't recall whether a fatal pre-conversion ceiling collapse in one of the buildings' commercial storefronts which touched off an asbestos scare was to blame (ghosts were never cited as the cause). Now fully occupied, the lobby weekday mornings is as crowded as a rush hour subway platform.