Home > Collections > Department of Buildings, 1866-1975
DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS, 1866-1975
New building and
alteration applications (including plans) for Manhattan
buildings (Blocks 1-968 only); Manhattan Borough application
docket books, 1866-1959.
is intended that the building shall be strictly
fire-proof. . . " Cass Gilbert, architect, to
Isaac A. Hopper, Supt. of Buildings, September 22, 1905.
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Department of Buildings folder for 90 West Street, Manhattan,
Block 56, Lot 4 (New Building application no. 1376 of
The "docket books" in this collection provide essential
information (architect, dimensions, date built, etc.),
in summary form, about every building constructed or
altered in Manhattan from 1866 to 1959. They are frequently
the only resource for information about buildings that
have been demolished.
Until the late 1800s, middle and upper-middle class
New York City families were accustomed to living in
single-family houses, typically "brownstone" or townhouse-type
buildings. At that time, apartments were for poor people.
In order to attract middle class families to new apartment
buildings, developers had to offer amenities such as
bathrooms, elevators, central heating, and servants'
rooms. These types of apartment houses were classified
in the Building Department docket books as "French Flats."
This term was intended to evoke the grand apartment
buildings then being built in Paris. The "Dakota" apartments
on West 72nd Street and Central Park West was one of
the most famous of these early "french flat"-style apartment
books have been microfilmed. Patrons must request block
and lot "folders" in advance.