A prewar apartment is a unit in a type of elegant apartment building constructed in New York City prior to 1941, the year the U.S. entered World War II.
Prewar apartments were built with large rooms, high ceilings, crown moldings, hardwood floors, thick (soundproof) walls, and elaborate plaster ornamentation. These qualities, in high demand today, bring premium prices.
Realtors often divide the term prewar apartment into three subcategories. In this system, true prewar apartments date from the beginning of World War I to the beginning of World War II (or from 1914-41); pre-prewar apartments date from the Spanish- American War to the beginning of World War I (1898-1914); and anything built prior to 1898 is a pre-pre-prewar apartment.
At any rate, the Upper West Side, the area west of Central Park, has Manhattan’s greatest concentration of prewar apartments, but the city’s most pricey and coveted prewars are on Fifth and Park avenues on the Upper East Side.
At the very top of Manhattan’s prewar apartment hierarchy are the elegant and spacious units in buildings designed by architect Rosario Candela (1890-1953). Candela apartments are known for oversized windows, abundant fireplaces, libraries, terraces, and grand foyers with curved staircases.
After years of searching, we settled on a Candela prewar apartment on Fifth Avenue, which gave us the high ceilings, grand foyer, and extensive terraces we wanted.