Guide to New York City Building Types

The New York City real estate market offers a range of housing choices, from 100+ year old brownstones to modern, luxury hi-rise buildings. Available apartments and prices will vary from area to area in the city, as will quality and amenities, but the following guide to New York City building types will help you gain a general understanding of what to expect.

Pre-War - A building constructed before World War II, pre-war apartments feature thick, plaster walls, high ceilings, hardwood floors and architectural detail. Turn of the century pre-war buildings often have smaller bedrooms and more architectural detail than their art deco cousins, but are all lumped into the pre-war category.

Post-War – Built after World War II, post-war buildings are more modern and likely to offer amenities such as a garage, fitness club or swimming pool. These encompass the 1950′s-60′s white brick buildings all the way to today’s new construction that emulates the grand pre-war apartments.

Walk-up – The least expensive type of housing available in New York City, constructed as multi-family housing, a walk-up building is up to six stories and does not have elevator service or a doorman. The term walk-up is often used to describe a tenement building as opposed to a townhouse or brownstone with no elevator. Security in a walk-up building consists of buzzer and voice or video intercom.

Elevator – Usually six stories or higher, a building offering elevator service but no doorman. Security is provided via buzzer and voice or video intercom.

Doorman – a building with an employee stationed at the door or in the lobby.

Full-Service – A building with both a doorman and concierge.

Townhouse – Four or five story buildings constructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries as single family residences. Townhouses often feature amenities such as basements, gardens, terraces and ornate architectural details. Many have since been split into multiple apartments. Townhouses do not have a doorman, and may also be offered as condos or co-ops.

Brownstone - A townhouse built of “brown stone”. The main entrance of a brownstone is often one flight of stairs above street level (the outdoor “stoop”), with a garden floor entrance at or a few steps steps below street level. Built as single family homes, many have since been split into multiple apartments while retaining their original charm and amenities. The most common alteration to a brownstone is the removal of the stoop for more of a traditional multi unit type entrance on the ground floor.

Luxury Hi-Rise – Modern buildings, usually over 20 stories and often full-service with amenities like a fitness club, swimming pool, parking garage, wifi, playroom, and laundry.

Loft – These are usually former industrial spaces converted to apartments, although new open floorplan apartments may also be marketed as lofts. Lofts typically feature open, airy living spaces with high ceilings, tall windows and self-service elevators. Most lofts do not have a doorman, although recent luxury loft conversions may have all the amenties of a modern high rise.

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