The Buckingham Years - 101 W.57th Street

The Buckingham
Estelle at the entrance, 2006.

50+ Years of family ownership.

Benjamin Shapiro's life story was literally 'rags-to-riches'. Starting with a dime in his pocket in his teens, he slowly worked his way up the ranks of the fashion industry on the lower east side of Manhattan, eventually starting his own company (Junior Miss?) and investing his profits in real estate. Married with children, he later pared his holdings down to one significant building at 101 W. 57th Street -- The Buckingham Hotel & Apartments.

Training his son Saul to take over the family business one day, Saul in turn later groomed his son Stephen to do the same. While many a tale can be told about the half century of Shapiro family ownership, it is ironic that both elder sibling owners died soon after the Building was sold to a new controlling entity -- Saul within weeks, and Estelle just 18 months later. 

Interesting to note as well that in 1966, Benjamin both knew and inquired of his friend Sam Rudin if he had any available apartments large enough for his daughter Estelle to relocate from Chicago with her husband and family.  Thus was born the 41 year tenancy that would be Estelle's home for the remainder of her life, while for 30 years she kept an apartment in The Buckingham in which she set up her art studio to paint out of.

So real estate played a passive but significant role in Estelle's life -- however direct or indirect it may have been. From the first and only home she ever owned (with her first husband Elliott in Westchester), to the ownership interest
in the Buckingham she later inherited from her parents, Estelle always maintained a stable place of residence and enough space to paint to her heart's content throughout her later years in life.

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