Penthouses are now such a common part of NYC real estate it’s hard to think back to the era when the whole idea of living right on the top floor of a building was seen as not just novel but deeply wrong.
But in NYC homes and buildings, the poorest people in the household, the servants, had always lived on the top floors because that relieved the wealthier owners of the burdensome task of having to climb up numerous flights of stairs. But then elevators became safe and the prospect of really tall buildings became possible and new real estate possibilities opened up.
Marjorie Merriweather Post, a very wealthy NYC heiress lived in a conventionally luxurious 3 story mansion at 1107 Fifth Avenue. But a developer promised her that if she would sell to him, he would build a very tall building on the footprint of her old mansion and would recreate for her, her current mansion, right at the top of the building.
Marjorie, who was tiring of the noise and dust of being so close to the street agreed. What she then got in 1925 was a magnificent penthouse, which spanned 3 floors, had among other things 17 bathrooms, 2 kitchens and a 125 guest dining room. It also had a wrap around terrace, a storage room specifically for flowers, another for furs, a wine room, a gown closet and several sitting rooms.
Of course the idea of someone like her opting to live in a ‘penthouse’ lent great respectability to the concept and from then on the word was equated with the most desiriable and the most expensive of residences. Marjorie lived in it for a while and then left NYC to live elsewhere. When it was redeveloped in 1950, it was so big it was broken up into 6 large apartments all of which individually sold for large sums of money.
See the second video which shows a modern New York penthouse which has just sold for $100.5 million. As you can see the idea of a penthouse being a place which showcases luxury and opulance is still alive and well in New .