25 minutes | Jan 3rd 2018

The First Apartment Building in America (A Stuyvesant Story)

Apartment living is something we take for granted today, the option for those who can't afford or don't desire a private home. But how did this type of living situation become popular in the United States?

In mid-19th century New York, people lived in townhouses, boarding houses or tenements. But far-thinking urban planners like Calvert Vaux touted a new form of housing popularized by the French -- the flat. Rutherford Stuyvesant, the wealthy heir of a couple notable American families, decided to build a version of this type of housing in the elite neighborhood of Gramercy Park.

But how to attract people to a risky form of living? You get celebrities to move in! In particular, one very well known person -- Elizabeth Custer, the wife of General George Custer, newly widowed after her husband was killed in the Battle of Little Bighorn. 

A version of this podcast was originally presented on The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast

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