From the NY Times:
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission gave landmark status to 100 middle-class residential buildings in Queens and on Staten Island on Tuesday, citing their distinctive architecture and important role in the historical arc of the evolution of the city’s housing.
The bulk of these buildings, 96, are modest century-old three-story buildings in the Ridgewood North Historic District in Queens. The other four are row houses on Horton’s Row in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island, part of an original stretch of 12 row houses built from 1880 to 1882.
The Ridgewood buildings, which have six apartments each, are technically considered tenements, which typically were buildings with only one or two bathrooms per floor. However, they represent the middle-class aspiration of the early 20th century.
Built between 1908 and 1914 by the G. X. Mathews Company, the Ridgewood buildings were more spacious and well lighted than much of the dark, cramped housing of the 19th century. Each apartment had is own full bathroom, a major leap from earlier tenements. They were ventilated and lighted by a central air shaft. The buildings also featured architectural grace notes: Romanesque and Renaissance Revival-style details, geometrically patterned brickwork and simple cornices. Known as Mathews Flats, the apartments were considered remarkable enough that they were exhibited by the New York City Tenement House Department at the Panama-Pacific Fair in 1915.
“It represents humane, sanitary, decent housing,” said Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the commission. “The Mathews Flats were a solution to a vexing problem for the city. It is important to remember what it had evolved from, its predecessors.”
She noted that it was common for a family to buy an entire building but rent out the other five units. “They needed very little for a down payment,” she said.
These protected buildings are along Gates, Fairview, Grandview and Forest Avenues, as well as Palmetto and Woodbine Streets. However, the G. X. Mathews Company also built its distinctive tenements widely throughout Queens, prompted by the demand of working-class families seeking more densely packed areas of the city.
Wow, working class housing that wasn't crap. What a concept!