two types of new yorkers.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

flatiron building

after this went down, ed and i jumped on the apartment search real quick like. luckily, we are staying put in our current apartment and (hopefully) for a long time. but our short-lived apartment searching led us to a hypothetical theory.

there are 2 types of new yorkers.... brownstone people and condo/high-rise people.

neither of the 2 are better than the other as it's all a matter of opinion. that's also not to say that a brownstone person can't switch to a condo person and vice versa.

i decided upon this theory because we are brownstone people through and through. we tried our best to convert to condo people, and who wouldn't (!!?) with their views, washer/dryers, full-service gyms, doormen, and roof-top decks. i'm telling you, we almost signed on the dotted line. even though the line wasn't dotted. why do they say that?

anyway, it irked me. it didn't feel right. this shiny white apartment was out of a museum and who the hell wouldn't want to live there? us apparently. we thought about it and thought some more and the pros of this fancy schmancy condo outweighed the cons. oh, but the cons. the condo cons weighed heavy on my chest....

1. i gotta pay some peeps to store my bike. seriously? cause i park it in my basement right now for free and i like free.
2. um, it's not a brownstone.
3. that pretty much covers it.

you see, we live on a tree-lined block (i donno how i got so lucky, honestly) that ends in central park. sincerely, i don't know HOW we got so lucky. sure there are negatives.... climbing 4 flights of stairs every day comes to mind though my butt has never been tighter. so there's that. sometimes we find bugs that rhyme with coach (i hate the other word) and there are cracks in the ceiling that make me nervous. but it'd be hard to convert me to anything else.

on the other hand, i can't imagine condo people loving anything but a condo. it'd be impossible to rip me away from my high-rising elevator amenities had that been all i'd ever known. a condo person would scoff at a brownstoners way of life.

of course, there are those rare and perfect buildings that are a flawless marriage of the two. a brownstone with an elevator or a doorman building on a tree lined block. i'd raise my some day baby baust in a place like that.

photo by moey hoque.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

That sounds about right to me. As for the dotted line, maybe because they often put dots next to where they want you to sign?
-Erin

chic81.com said...

I live in Chicago and I think our version of the brownstone, usually called a 3 flat, and I am speaking strictly of rented, not owned, is much less nice than what is available in NYC (feel free to correct me, anyone). I have lived in both condos and vintage 3 flat units and I definitely prefer the condo. I need modern conveniences. However, if I had the money, I would buy the old brownstone/greystone/3 flat and renovate the heck out of it, with a mix of preserved vintage and modern.
-Sonya

ashley faye said...

so true. i think i also gravitate toward brownstones because i grew up in really old, creaky, often row home type dwellings. my opposite then felt like my friends homes with central ac, wall to wall carpet and "big screen tv's" - this family also usually drove a mini van to boot.

your apartment sounds like a total find and im so glad you didn't opt for the condo! do you ever venture into park slope? the best for brownstone lurking. (and we're one block from prospect park!)

ashley faye said...

ps im currently staring at the gold chapel-like building in that pic.. my view from work!

rebecca said...

ashley-
i have a place in my heart for park slope.

Ana said...

I actually think I am a mix of the two. I have lived in a 'brownstone house' (or at least the equivalent to that here in Portugal) and simply adored its charm right to the moment where my bathroom fittings started to crack and a clogged shower drain would prevent me from taking a decent shower. Now I live in a condo-type building (and I've desperately tried to give it some character with some antique furniture), and I have to say I find it so much more convenient - the huge terrace helps! Still, I daydream of finding the perfect brownstone house, one with a perfect mix of modern convenience and old school charm. Unless you find the perfect renovated home, which are usually soooo expensive, I think all houses have pros and cons. It all comes down to what you value the most. Good luck with your apartment search!

Tibs said...

Interesting! Apparently I'm a condo person dreaming of brownstone...

Kim said...

I'm not a New Yorker, but definitely a Brownstone (here we call them Edwardians or Victorians, depending on when they were built). We got very lucky with a renovated Edwardian, though I HATE that the landlord covered up what I suspect are gorgeous hardwood floors with boring beige carpet. There are more and more condos and high-rises popping up in SF, but they're just not for us.

The Bebebirds said...

I can't imagine being the condo type, mostly because I'd have to sell my firstborn just to afford it. I am the southern version of a brownstone gal.

Brooke

penelope said...

Oh! This makes me think of 1996, when my (not yet) husband and I drove into the sunrise from Texas to NYC leaving behind all we knew. We went blind with no jobs BUT we had flown up two weeks before to find an apartment. Holy Macaroni! I wish I had photos of the places we looked at. Yikes! Pretty sure many didn't fall under "brownstone" OR "condo". Is there a category called "Run the other way!"? Regardless, we had one of the best experiences of our lives in NY and I'll forever and always cherish the time I was there. And we are most definitely Brownstonies.

Lauren said...

Here in Wichita, it's a pre-war/post-war split. The people who live in older houses (me, for instance) can't imagine living in a soulless, just-the-same-as-every-other-house-on-the-block house and the people who live in new houses wouldn't put up with the cracks, creaks, and unfinished basements of old houses.

We had a couple of days to find a place to live when we first moved here, so we ended up in a pretty much brand-new apartment complex that was practically in the 'burbs. We lived there less than a year we hated it so much. Thankfully, we have since moved to a duplex in a "historic" neighborhood.

Elizabeth Harwell said...

Totally applies to us country folk, too. Even though we loved some aspects of our brand new cookie cutter house in auburn, something always felt aloof. Now that we are in our 1940s home in Mississippi, it's like a breath of fresh air... Or is that asbestos? Can't be sure.

Erica said...

I'm a brownstoner partially out of nostalgia, partially out of price. i love my tree-lined street, the charming quirks of the apartment, and the ridiculously low price of my 1 bedroom. but the bugs, cracks, methuselian kitchen and bathroom? yeah...not so much. sometimes that granite countertop looks SO appealing.

likeyourteeth.com said...

If you are a working New Yorker, the condo is the way to go. Since you are likely to be out of the house for most of the day, someone is always there to pick up your packages and drycleaning, let the dogwalker into your apt, etc. You are never worried about forgetting your keys and getting locked out of your apartment. Brownstones are beautiful and I love tree lined streets, but convenience is key here.

Jen said...

I lived in a high rise in the UES for almost 6 years and loved it. The amenities, the door men, the gym, the pool, the elevator, the views, loved it! When I moved to Chicago 2 years ago I moved into a brownstone type, live on the second floor of a walk up 3 story building, with a little balcony and tons of windows that look out to the street bellow. It's different, but it's also nice. People adapt to anything, and they both have their charms.

Kayla Poole said...

The never-ending debate. Currently, T and I are (still) having the city vs. country vs. pseudo-suburb life. And no, neither one of us comes down on a particular side. (Right now, we're leaning towards switching coasts! As in west coast. We shall see).

Monica L. Shulman said...

We've done both and in the middle and I have to say that I like mid-size buildings.

We lived in the cutest apt in Brooklyn Heights for almost two years together when we first met and my husband, then boyfriend, lived there for almost 7 before that. Everything about it was so charming, especially the beautiful street it was on and the quiet backyard we shared with our neighbors. Plus it was crazy cheap. However, the tiny "bathroom" (if you can even call it that bc it was SO small) was quickly dubbed the "phone booth" (remember those?) and the fridge was down the hall from the kitchen next to our bedroom. Never mind the friends who sometimes lived in the walls. ugh. Of course there are brownstones of every shape and size and for every budget. Our next place also had its charm bc it was in a bigger building from the 1960s in Queens. We moved there to save money when we got married and while we felt incredibly isolated out there and we didn't love the bigger building it served its purpose. Then we moved to the city to a bigger building that wasn't a highrise and it didn't have a doorman and I agree with one of the other commenters, it was a huge pain to not have someone who picked up your packages since at the time I was working 15 hours or more a day or the convenience of a big place. I thought I wanted something bigger but we LOVED our place and lived there for 6 years mostly bc the rent was very reasonable and we had a beautiful view with an outdoor space. We lived briefly in an enormous highrise and hated it with a passion. We tried it out for 3 months to see if we could live there and we were so miserable. So, basically, middle-sized is what works best for us. Now we're in the ideal situation and with the baby a building where we feel safe with a doorman and the convenience of laundry, a gym, someone to help with packages, etc. is paramount. Still, we always talk about maybe getting an apt in a smaller building with nice amenities when our girl is a little older and we don't have to worry about strollers and all that.

rebecca said...

lib-
it's asbestos.

like your teeth-
you make an excellent point. i often find myself running home in order to receive a package.

monica-
i think you eloquently proved that it's all about timing. there will be a time in my life when an elevator/doorman building becomes much more important because of a stroller, work schedule, etc.

Happenstance said...

You are so funny Becca! I love reading your thoughts. Just so you know, I've given you a voice even though I've never even heard you speak! Life is funny I tell you.

Lena at A Crimson Kiss said...

Can you imagine–the perfect brownstone with an elevator and a washer-dryer? Sounds like heaven.

rebecca said...

happenstance-
oh, i hope it's a good one!

Susan said...

I'd be a brownstone person too if I lived there...and it sounds like where you are now is a perfect place for a someday baby baust. ;)

Thais said...

lol I had never thought about this but often dream of living in a brownstone on the UWS but honestly I couldn't do a walk up. Especially now that I'm pregnant I can't imagine leaving my elevator building in the UES with the concierge, laundry on the 2nd floor building. Seriously... hauling groceries, laundry, baby, and a stroller up some stairs would kill me.

Patricia Villamil said...

I completely get the analogy. Once a condo-dweller, always a condo-dweller, except when the brownstone is cheaper! We happened to live in DC, first on a loft apartment, with all the amenities you describe, but feeling so detached from this cultural city. Then we moved to a brownstone, here called row-house turned into apt. We have the first level to our selves, with a cute patio and anchored in the most vibrant, yet relaxing neighborhood. And sometimes, it's annoying to have to do your own gardening, or hose down the stairs to your apt. but I wouldn't change it for anything. Once a brownstone, always a brownstone!

yours truly, melissa said...

I realize we live in Oklahoma in a college town, but I completely get what you mean. There are New House People & then there are Old House People. New houses have the huge walk in closets, the brand new everything, the neighborhood pools, etc. Old houses have character & big mature trees. Old house neighborhoods don't have that cookie cutter feel. We are old house people, through & through. But we want it all! Someday we will have our old house with big trees, character, & a remodel that gives us fancy/modern amenities.

Liv Lundelius said...

AWWW. This whole discussion makes me miss my life in NYC!
I guess you get the 2 type people almost in every city.

Victoria said...

Now, I love stopping by here. Especially when I find posts like this.

You make me want my own brownstone condo combo! But, since they are hard to find, I would probably stick to brownstone like you.

Enjoy it while it's yours! Roaches, stairs, and all.

Rebeka said...

This is so good! You've done it again!

It's charm and homey-ness or luxury (sort of). Both are good (and both have their cons too), but once you commit you're done!

smoothliminal said...

so true! i always play the "penthouse or townhouse" game with people to see what i can learn about their personalities. fun fact: i am torn between the two!

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