With millions of apartment units in New York City, it's hard to imagine that there was ever a time when the city didn't have them. Today, nearly 70 percent of NYC residents rent an apartment, which is twice the average nationwide. But that wasn't always the case.
At first, many people thought apartment living was immoral. This was largely because many of the first apartment buildings were based on the row houses in Paris, and some people considered a shared living space under the same roof to be immoral. People also mistakenly associated apartments with tenements, which were filled with disease, vermin and sewage. Attitudes changed, however, once people tried living in an apartment.
How apartment living became desirable
Buildings such as the Chelsea, Dakota and Gramercy were built in the 1870s. These places offered numerous advantages and benefits, including electricity, phones, refrigerators and food you could have delivered from the building's restaurant. Over time, as conditions in apartments improved, apartment living became something many people wanted to do.
During the twentieth century, apartments continued to evolve. You can still see the effects of trends from that time, such as the artist loft, open space floorplan, which is still popular today.
And over time, even the wealthy became apartment dwellers. Today, luxury apartment numbers in the city continue to grow.
What is the future for NYC apartments?
Studies show that the square footage of some apartments is shrinking. Meanwhile, rents are rising. A 2017 report found that rent in the city is rising twice as fast as the wages NYC residents earn. Regardless, New Yorkers will continue their search for that perfect living space, which is likely to be in an apartment.