The East 78th Street Houses are a row of five attached brick houses on that street in Manhattan, New York, United States. They are the remainder of an original group of 11 built in 1861, when the area was originally being developed due to the extension of rail transit into it.
As a result, they are among the oldest townhouses on the Upper East Side. Some of them have been added onto, and the two easternmost were combined into a single unit. They retain enough historical integrity that they were designated a New York City Landmark in 1968, and were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
The row is located at 157-165 East 78th, on the north side of the street between Third and Lexington avenues. It is closer to the Lexington intersection at the west end of the block. The neighborhood is residential, consisting of similar, often larger, rowhouses and apartment buildings. It is just outside the Upper East Side Historic District, and on the southern edge of Yorkville.
They are on lots 18 feet (5.5 m) wide by 102 feet (31 m) deep, although the buildings themselves only cover the front 40 feet (12 m). They are two stories high, with exposed basements giving them the appearance of three and a main entrance below street level. The westernmost house, 157, has had a slate-shingled mansard roof with three gabled dormer windows added. At the east end, 163 and 165 have been combined into one house, with a penthouse on the roof.
All the houses share some identical decoration, painted white on the western three and black or unpainted on 163–65. A brownstone belt course runs across all five between the basement and first story, unpainted on 163–65. The plain lintels, also brownstone, are similarly decorated. The pressed metal cornice at the roofline is the same on all five, supported by rounded consoles faced in acanthus leaves and decorated with round modillions. It has been painted black on 163–165 and white on the other three, as have the window muntins.
The windows on 157's first story are protected by decorative iron grilles. Its entrance door is glazed rather than painted white. The iron fencing around the terrace is taller than that at 159 next door, and identical to that at 163–65.