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By 1927, the apartment buildings along Park Avenue were not just ; they were , true towers, the first skyscrapers built for permanent living. The of them was the Ritz Tower, from the pavement at the corner of Fifty-seventh Street and Park Avenue. Built for blue-bloods and tycoons by Emery Roth, it opened in October 1926 and was one of the first residential buildings in New York constructed in sympathy with the city's landmark zoning law of 1916.

Concerned about diminishing sunlight and fresh air in the canyonlike streets created by the closely massed skyscrapers of lower Manhattan, the city placed a limit on and bulk of buildings. were based upon the width of the street a building faced; if a developer proposed to exceed the legal limit, the stories above it had to be set back, roughly .

Forced to work within the confines of the so-called zoning envelope, architects began constructing 'set-back' skyscrapers, with sections of the buildings set back further and further as they from their bases into the island's sky. 'Wedding cake' architecture, some New Yorkers called it.

The Ritz Tower was . The inhabited building in the world, it the skyline of Midtown Manhattan as the Woolworth Building that of lower Manhattan. Residents of its upper stories had unobstructed views in all directions for a distance of twenty-five miles on clear days, 'panorama[s] unexcelled in all New York,' Emery Roth boasted.

It was a new way of living for the rich. They became sky dwellers, their 'mansions in the clouds' than anyone had ever lived. In its architectural aspirations alone, the Ritz Tower expressed the spirit of the Jazz Age. Sculpted in rusticated limestone, it from its base 'like a telescope,' up through its set-back terraces to a square tower crowned by a glistening copper roof.