65 Mott St – First Tenement in New York City

The first building in New York constructed specifically as a tenement is located at 65 Mott St. Built about 1824, 65 Mott St was a seven-story walk-up that towered over its two-story wooden neighbors.

In a typical apartment, the 12-by-12-foot front room served as kitchen, dining room and living room. The 8-by-10-foot back room was an unventilated ”sleeping closet.” One of these apartments might house as many as 12 people. When constructed, the building had neither electricity nor plumbing. The interior hallways were pitch black, even in daytime. The stairs were (and still are) unusually steep. Residents would avoid using them for fear of falling in the darkness, instead opting to throw their garbage and waste out of the windows of their individual apartments.

Today, the building is still residential.

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  1. Ruth Floyd
    Posted 7 Aug 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I am currently reading a book by Tyler Anbinder called Five Points. I am a social worker and have always been interested in the plight of the immigrants into our country…reading this book adds to what i already knew about the suffering of so many upon coming to the United States, (many came from worse or at least just as bad). But to actually be able to see the inside of the tenement building that was such a horrible place when it was built…it’s amazing. It’s also amazing to me that the building still stands. The book talks about how incredibly dark it was in the hallways and how steep and dark the stairs are….I am just so happy to get to see the pictures of the building. Thank you and I would like to know if there are more?

  2. Theresa
    Posted 13 Oct 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I am reading the same book which prompted me to google 65 Mott street and that’s how I found this picture. I agree with the comment above-amazing to actually be able to see it.

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