History

Carefully restored to its original grandeur, The Octagon boldly sets the standard for sustainable building in the future.

  • [+] Enlarge The Octagon’s flying staircase, damaged by fire in 1982 and beautifully restored in 2006
  • [+] Enlarge Metropolitan Hospital nursing staff on the flying staircase, originally designed by Alexander Jackson Davis
  • [+] Enlarge From 1894-1955, New York’s Metropolitan Hospital operated at The Octagon.
  • [+] Enlarge View of Manhattan from The Octagon, 1938
  • [+] Enlarge Built of stately blue-gray stone quarried on Roosevelt Island, the rotunda continues to be The Octagon’ centerpiece.

Beginnings

In 1841 The Octagon opened as a beautifully designed island retreat by Alexander Jackson Davis, the era’s most influential architect, known for his lavish Hudson River estates. Davis’ design for the building’s signature five-story octagonal rotunda incorporated stately blue-gray stone quarried on the island. So beautiful was the rotunda that visiting English novelist Charles Dickens praised the building as “remarkable,” its flying spiral staircase “spacious and elegant” as it rose from an illuminated glass-brick floor. In 1894 The Octagon was converted into the Metropolitan Hospital, for which a steamer service ferried patients and staff across the East River.

When the Metropolitan Hospital closed in 1955, the building fell into neglect. The two wings extending from the rotunda were demolished, while a series of fires destroyed the domed roof. The Octagon joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, but its survival remained in doubt for decades.

Reinvention

In 2006 developer Becker + Becker Associates brought The Octagon back to bold new life as an upscale, green residential community. Homes ranging from studios to 3-bedroom penthouses occupy the site of the building’s two original wings, while gorgeous landscaping has revived the site’s natural beauty. The famed rotunda now houses a grand entrance lobby and first-class amenities for what is now one of Manhattan’s most elegant and distinctive buildings.