Cities Lifestyle New York City, NY

The Evolution of Home Architecture in NYC Over the Last 215 Years [in Images]

215 Years of Home Architecture in NYC

Surrounded by water, and eager to live close to their bustling city center, New Yorkers have had no other way, through the decades, than to build their homes towards the sky. NYC apartments have traditionally been both a measure of accomplishment and evidence of the good life, being associated with people’s ability to finance their loftiest dreams.

While a lot has been said about the architectural history and design evolution of skyscrapers, it’s NYC houses that we have turned to this time. Single-family residences have always been few and far between in Manhattan. To see Federalist, Colonial, Arts and Crafts, and Tudor Revival style properties, you typically have to leave the center and admire the homes that lie in the outer boroughs. Historic brownstone rowhouses, elegant townhouses, and beautiful mansions are scattered across neighborhoods in all NYC’s boroughs, and feature the widest variety of designs and styles.

To get a better picture of what creative NYC architects have crafted during the centuries, and what kind of house you can get for your money, we’ve put together a slideshow: embark on a visual journey that will take you, step by step, through 215 years of home architecture in NYC.

The images are courtesy of Google Maps Street View and the valuable property data – such as year built, no. of beds/baths, square feet, last known sale price and date, and more – is provided by PropertyShark.

You are free to use the code below to embed the slideshow on your website, by giving credit to RENTCafe:

Landmark homes

Are you hooked on really old homes that have a story to tell? The oldest extant house in Greenwich Village is the Isaacs-Hendricks House, built back in 1799 in the Federal style. This historic landmark, featuring 3,552 square feet of living space plus an unbeatable Manhattan location, was last sold in 2013 for more than $7 million. But historic mansions are rarely for sale.

Homes for sale in NYC

For about the same amount as the previous gem, an architecturally stunning residence converted from a warehouse space nestled between historic Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill is waiting for a new buyer. This property of 6,000 square feet is a unique combination of single-family-home privacy and loft aesthetic. It is designed to cater to the most exclusive tastes, and has an impressive array of high-end amenities. An elevated skylight on the first floor, a heated private 2-car garage, a 50-foot second floor terrace, a custom wood outdoor Pergola, and wood burning fireplaces – these are just a few to mention. The current price tag is $6,495,000 million.

Home for sale in Brooklyn
Home for sale at 90 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY11201, asking $6,495,000. Image via Point2 Homes

But New Yorkers can fulfill their homeownership dreams for a lower budget as well. A 1925-built 2-story house located in North Side Staten Island is currently for sale, asking a little over $500,000. The charming white-picket fence colonial property was totally refurbished in 2014, including new roofs on the house and the garage, upgrades on the electrical and heating systems, and a repaint. This abode also boasts a sunroom, a family recreational room, and a summer kitchen.

Home for sale at 51 Bard Avenue, Staten Island asking $549,000. Image via Point2 Homes.

Homes for rent in NYC

If you want to live in The City That Never Sleeps, but can’t afford to buy a home (or just don’t want to), you can always rent a New York City apartment or townhouse.

In Crown HeightsBrooklyn you can find a modern 4-bedroom townhouse for rent asking $7,990/month, located at 568 Park Place. Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Prospect Park Zoo are close-by, and the 2, 3, 4, and 5 lines and the Norstrand Avenue train station are also within walking distance. The ultramodern kitchen is packed with professional grade appliances and it overlooks a lovely backyard and garden. The bedrooms boast oversized windows, allowing lots of natural light to flood the rooms. This is one awesome home in a prime location!

568 Park Place apartment for rent, Brooklyn
$7,990/month for a 4-bedroom townhouse at 568 Park Place Apartments, Brooklyn. Image via RENTCafe

For a lower monthly price tag, of about $2,000 a month, you can escape the busy streets and enjoy a comfortable living at the Seaview Apartments in Shore SideStaten Island. This pet-friendly community is located across from Staten Island University Hospital and close to Staten Island’s beach front parks. Hardwood floors, efficient appliances, and walk-in closets make these furnished 2-bedroom apartments extremely appealing.

Seaview apartments for rent, Staten Island
$1,990/month for a 2-bedroom apartment in Staten Island. Image via RENTCafe

While living in a single-family house is not exactly the typical Big Apple lifestyle, these alluring NYC properties are reason enough to quit the high-rise life and start dreaming about your own backyard and white picket fence.

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About the author

Nicky Iudean

Nicky is a Senior Communications Specialist for RENTCafé.com, where she researches and writes about real estate, interior design, and all things that spark renters’ interests. She is also your go-to person for content collaborations. Nicky double majored in Marketing and Applied Economics and holds a master's degree in Marketing Strategies and Policies. You can reach her via email at

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