Manhattan Residential Architecture: From Townhouses to Apartments

Real Estate Agent

Manhattan Residential Architecture from the 19th Century to the 21st Century:

New Yorkers lived in townhouses during the 19th century.

 19th Century Single Family Townhouses were made of Brownstone and Limestone.

Brownstone Townhouses 

The luxury apartment house was actually invented in New York in the late 19th century. Upper-class New Yorkers lived in townhouses and single-family mansions during the 19th century. By 1930, 90% percent of Manhattanites lived in apartments. To lure potential tenants, developers borrowed the word "apartment" from the French to make the new buildings sound more fashionable. The word and the lifestyle stuck.

In 1890 The Dakota was the first luxury apartment building in Manhattan. 

It's Beaux Art Chateau style architecture was popular in the late 19th century.

The Dakota 

Architect: Henry Hardenburgh

 In 1904 The Ansonia was called the most technologically advanced apartment house in the world. 


Architect: Grave and Duboy  built (1899-1904)

Apartment house living spread from New York to the rest of the country.

1930 Art Deco Buildings - The San Remo Apartments

An ad for the San Remo in the NY Times in April 1930 called it :

As modern as a flying boat, as luxurious as the Ile de France and designed for people who are at home on both. Birds in the sky are your only neighbors.

 The San Remo Apartments    

Architect: Emory Roth's 27 story Masterpiece

After World War II the New York apartment buildings became flat panels of brick and glass, lacking shape, color, texture, and ornamants.  

 1950 Brick Buildings                                                           


1960 Buildings were white brick - Wedding cake style  

The Fairmont Upper East Side

 Fairmont- Upper East Side built in 1964


1970 Buildings made of concrete have set back vertical rectangles with balconies

     1970s Concrete Building

1980 Brick facade with glass - post modern

The Boulevard- Upper Broadway - Upper West Side

The Boulevard 1988 - Upper West Side



Distinctive Brick  facade of the 90's

2000 Glass Towers of the New Millenium

200 West End Avenue - Upper West Side   

200 West End Avenue


To recieve listings of Manhattan Apartments and Townhouses


Blog by: 

Mitchell Hall, The Corcoran Group


©Mitchell Hall

Posted by

©Mitchell Hall 2022

All content/images, unless noted, are the property of Mitchell Hall & may not be used without permission. 

nyc BLOG estate

          Call Mitchell Hall @ 917-312-0924

Comments (6)

Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
Isn't architecture fun? I knew the word apartment's etymology was French, but I did not know it was first used in that way in the U.S. in New York; I guess I should not be surprised lol.  Great history lesson!
May 06, 2007 12:20 PM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hi Carole,

Thanks.  I love archtecture especially residential. Of course office buildings like The Empire State building and the Chrysler building are man made wonders but I really enjoy the architecture of homes seeing how people lived.

May 07, 2007 01:13 AM
Paul Anyanwu
CRS, SFR, Broker-Salesperson, Sales West Orange,NJ
Thanks for sharing these beautiful historical buildings quite impressive pictures.
May 13, 2007 11:37 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

What a great architectural tour of NY, Mitchell. I love these buildings - so different from what you find here on the west coast. Reminds me of my time in Boston just a few years ago. Terrific pics.

Thanks for sharing this.



May 23, 2007 05:26 PM
Concetta Pepenella Prudential Appleseed Realty
Veryu Nice presentation of Manhattan.  It will inspire me to put a presentation of Beautiful Homes here on Staten Island.
May 24, 2007 05:35 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Paul, Thank you and thanks for stopping by.

Jeff, Thank you, the older I get the more I appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these old buildings.  I love the California Spanish style architecture on the west coast too.

Concetta, Thanks, I would love to see the beautiful homes on Staten Island. This is a great week too for Staten Island because many of the Navy ships are in Staten Island for Fleet Week.

Have a great Memorial day weekend.

May 24, 2007 06:15 AM