Skip to main content

Where To Live

March 2023
3min read

The following notices from The New York Times of the middle and late 1920s will be especially poignant to the modern Manhattanite. The prices that at first seem familiar to today’s tenant are in fact the yearly rental; the low figures are monthly.

45th St, 325 West, the Whitby, “A Home in the Heart of Things.” 1,2, 3 rooms, kitchenettes or kitchens, now leasing for immediate possession; from $85.

Unfurnished — West Side

9TH ST, 17 WEST — Entire parlor floor, exceptionally large rooms; rent $2,500.

9TH, 66 WEST — High-class elevator house, 2–3 rooms; $45 – $75.

28TH, 344 WEST — Excellent apartments, rooms, bath; suitable artists’ studios; high grade, restricted, residential block; $60 – $65.

45TH St, 325 WEST, THE WHITBY, “A Home in the Heart of Things.” 1, 2, 3 rooms, kitchenettes or kitchens, now leasing for immediate possession; rentals from $85; grill, maid and valet service, barber; combining perfect service with excellent location; attractively furnished if desired.

SANFORD and REXFORD, 229 West 78th St. & 230 West 79th St. 5 Rooms 2 Baths, 6 Rooms 3 Baths, Electric refrigeration, enclosed radiators, six-burner white gas stoves and modernistic decorations, $2700 upwards.

131 RIVERSIDE DRIVE, North Corner of 85th St., 12-story fireproof building. 6 Rooms, 2 Baths. $2200 upwards.

698 WEST END AVE, S.E. Corner 94th St., 15-story modern fireproof building. 2 Rooms, $1250; 3 Rooms, $1500; 4 Rooms, cor. $2200.

Unfurnished — East Side

3OTH, 201 EAST — 5 rooms, bath, elevator service day, night, $85–$100.

50TH ST., 185 EAST — If you want an ideal location, modest rentals and an end of the servant problem, inspect this new 9-story building; 1-room apartments with kitchen, each a home in itself, at $1,080 to $1,260.

50TH (16 BEEKMAN PLACE) — Entire floor, 2 very large rooms; river view; sunny; open fireplaces; private crosstown bus; $110.

LEXINGTON AVENUE, 740 — To let, 2 large rooms and bath, rental $50.

383 PARK AVENUE — 6 to 12 Rooms — 3 & 4 Baths, $4,500 to $12,000.

1111 PARK AVE — Fine families promptly recognized the desirability and value of these new apartments on the southeast corner of 90th Street. 63 out of 72 already occupied! 7-8-9 rooms still available; perfectly arranged, roomy, bright and susceptible to tasteful decorations. Rentals $4000 to $7200.


3 WEST 8TH ST. HOTEL MARLTON. — 2-room suites, including meals for 2 persons, $30 – $35 – $60 weekly: Full hotel service.

BACHELOR will share exclusive apartment gentlemen absolute independence assured; $9 [weekly].

…Sometimes all the owners of a cooperative apartment belong to the same social layer. But my lady of millions need no more associate with the other tenants in her house than you or I, fellow-pauper, with the people in the flat upstairs. Each apartment has its separate and private elevator; often, its separate and private entrance. If the lobby be cooperative, the proper retinue of liveried servants open the door, bow you in. Always in the background of this lobby stands a quiet man in quiet clothes; he is the detective, guarding the house against jewel-robbers. From the elevator doors of the richer and more expensive apartment, you step into a hall like that of any grand house; you must look out of the window to realize that you are dwelling with the eagle. The individual, modern decoration and furnishing of these interiors support a colony of prosperous craftsmen along Madison and Lexington avenues.

Final touch of strange luxury is the roof-house, the “cote”; sometimes merely a super-cottage surrounded by painfully cultivated gardens, but often a veritable mansion. Here, twenty inhabited stories above ground, the circle swings full turn; the tenant has achieved a detachment impossible to any dwelling set on the earth. There are no neighbors to his right and left; only the tinted air above Manhattan. Though hundreds of strangers dwell just underfoot, his only connection with his six million fellow-citizens is the opening to his private elevator-shaft. From any supreme elevation on the edge of this region - like the tops of the Heckscher Building or the Hotel Shelton —these roof-houses cut the sky-line in every direction. Once, standing by the pinnacle of the Heckscher, I glimpsed something which made me think that I was living in Mother Goose. Distrusting my eyes, I went into the broker’s office under the spike and borrowed a field-glass. It was all true. There, chewing her cud at the back door of a cottage cocked twenty stories in air, lay a Jersey cow!…

Who live in these compos- ite steel and cement palaces? All sorts, the one common factor being wealth. The Park Avenue Association has issued of late some interesting figures. The average net income along the Avenue is $75,000 a year. A mere $50,000 a year is bitter poverty. Its possessor can afford no more than $10,000 a year for rent; and that brings him only a flat. A really desirable duplex or triplex apartment will cost perhaps $35,000 a year. If the tenant prefers to buy a duplex or triplex, the initial cost and the decoration may come to a quarter of a million —to say nothing of furnishings.

Always in the background of this lobby stands a quiet man in quiet clothes; he is the detective, guarding the house against jewel-robbers.

One was increasingly conscious of the speakeasy and of Park Avenue. In the past decade Greenwich Village, Washington Square, Murray Hill, the châteaux of Fifth Avenue had somehow disappeared, or become unexpressive of anything. The city was bloated, glutted, stupid r with cake and circuses, and a new expression “Oh yeah?” summed up all the enthusiasm evoked by the announcement of the last super-skyscrapers.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "November 1988"

Authored by: Peter Andrews

Every presidential election is exciting when it happens. Then the passing of time usually makes the outcome seem less than crucial. But after more than a century and a quarter, the election of 1860 retains its terrible urgency.

Authored by: Patrick Allitt

He was a capitalist. He was an urban reformer. He was a country boy. He was “Comrade Jesus,” a hardworking socialist. He was the world’s first ad man. For a century and a half, novelists have been trying to recapture the “real” Jesus.

Authored by: Richard B. Trask

A routine chore for JFK’s official photographer became the most important assignment of his career. Much of his moving pictorial record appears here for the first time.

Authored by: The Editors

Advertising from the Antique and
Classic Eras

Authored by: The Editors

An American Adventure

Authored by: The Editors

Courtship in Twentieth-Century

Authored by: Gerald Carson

All through the 1920s eager young emigrants left the towns and farms of America and headed for New York City. One of them recalls the magnetism of the life that pulled him there.

Authored by: The Editors

Where do you stay? What will it cost? How do you get a drink?
Where to eat? What will that cost ? What’s playing? Is it a talkie? How many people live here, anyway? What kind of place is this? All the answers are here.

Authored by: Marvin Gelfand

The great buildings of the 1920s are standing all over Manhattan, preserving in masonry the swank and swagger of an exuberant era.

Featured Articles

Famous writers including Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts turned Sleepy Hollow Cemetery into our country’s first conservation project.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.

Roast pig, boiled rockfish, and apple pie were among the dishes George and Martha enjoyed during the holiday in 1797. Here are some actual recipes.

Born during Jim Crow, Belle da Costa Greene perfected the art of "passing" while working for one of the most powerful men in America.