In our former New York City apartment building, our daughters were fascinated by a relic from the past: A dumbwaiter, which had once served to haul things up from the basement level to the upper floors.
My daughters loved asking guests if they knew what was behind the mysterious-looking wood door in the hall. I think there was some confusion about whether there was a not-so-smart restaurant server crouching back there.
The 1900 building had many decorative features common to that era, like carved woodwork, fireplaces, and stained-glass windows. But my favorite features were the solid, thick walls that made living on a busy NYC thoroughfare a comfortable experience.
Prewar buildings—which in NYC refers to construction prior to World War II, but also encompasses much older buildings—typically have high ceilings, detailed woodwork, crown moldings, ornate plaster decals, and big windows. Apartments usually have large rooms and gracious layouts—like a separate dining room.
Turns out, based on the average age of its oldest rental buildings, Manhattan’s large rental buildings have an average age of 100 years old, according to a new report from RentCafe, which looked at the oldest apartment buildings with 50+ units in the U.S. that are still being used as rentals. The report notes that out of 3,600 old apartment buildings (built before 1950), one quarter are located in Manhattan.
Two very old Manhattan properties make the top 10 list for oldest rental buildings in the U.S., a pair of 141-year-old prewar buildings, 238 East 33rd St. and 307 Mott St.
Among the 10 oldest rental buildings in Manhattan, ages range from 121 to 141 years.
According to StreetEasy, 238 East 33rd St. is a complex of three, five-story buildings constructed in 1880. Eight rentals were on the market there this year, including a three bedroom, two bath leased for $7,000.
There's an apartment available at the other oldest active rental building in NYC: 307 Mott St., a five-story building with 42 units. Apartment #1C is a two bedroom, one bath renovated unit with a washer/dryer. It is asking $5,950 with no broker fee.
The report notes that the occupancy rate in Manhattan’s oldest rental buildings is 94 percent, “a figure that sustains their coveted urban location and living quality.”
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