NYC | Prewar Building

 

Prewar Building in NYC

#Real Estate Meets Design

 Image Source: Brad Dickson for The New York Times

Image Source: Brad Dickson for The New York Times

The prewar buildings are built before World War II which conjures images of high ceilings, thick walls, plaster ornamentation and generous layouts. Most prewar apartments in Manhattan tend to be co-ops, requiring larger down payments and co-op board approval, but the price range is usually lower than condos.

 Image Source: Evan Joseph and Mike Tauber from Manhattan Classic

Image Source: Evan Joseph and Mike Tauber from Manhattan Classic

One of the most common types of prewar apartments is the "classic six," a configuration of a living room, dining room, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a room for live-in staff. It was designed to fit the needs of families.  You will find these kinds of dwellings commonly in Upper West Side, Upper East Side,West Village, as well as Brooklyn (Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Carroll Gardens) and the Bronx. 

 Image Source: Curbed

Image Source: Curbed

Here are some characteristics of prewar buildings

  • High ceilings (usually 9-feet and higher)

  • Beamed ceilings

  • Crown molding

  • Ornamentation on ceilings and walls

  • Sunken living rooms

  • Plaster walls

  • Arched doorways

  • Wood floors, sometimes in a herringbone pattern

  • Wide hallways

  • Spacious foyers

  • Solid, wood doors with brass fixtures

  • No cookie-cutter layouts

 Image Source: Evan Joseph and Mike Tauber from Manhattan Classic

Image Source: Evan Joseph and Mike Tauber from Manhattan Classic

While pre-war apartments have all of those beautiful features, they also have some less-than-desirable qualities. "Unique" layouts can often mean confusing layouts the tare hard to work with, and most pre-war apartments have small kitchens and bathrooms and no central air. They also usually have older radiators that clank when they turn on, and inefficient windows. You might love the look of a pre-war apartment, but you also have to be prepared for the downsides - if they're not something you want to deal with in your home, you may want to find something with a more modern construction instead. 

 Image Source: shershegoes

Image Source: shershegoes

But prewar units often took longer to build and were built to last compared to the speedier methods of post-war construction, and featured hand-finished plaster walls, elaborate tile, and the solid wood condition. Therefore, classic prewar buildings tend to maintain their value and appreciate faster than recent condo development. 

 Image Source: Mike D’s Cobble Hill town home via The New York Times

Image Source: Mike D’s Cobble Hill town home via The New York Times

If you're interested in buying a pre-war apartments, start your search in specific neighborhoods as mentioned it earlier. If you need additional help, certainly you can reach out to me (mina@kwnyc.com).