Architecture Around Us: The Rise of Apartment Living in Oakland


Apartments have provided urban housing across the economic spectrum in European cities for centuries. But as the United States urbanized in the 1800s, multifamily buildings came to be associated with shabby, cramped tenements, hastily constructed to absorb the influx of immigrants and workers to cities during the industrial revolution. Apartment houses only gained acceptance as a form of housing for the middle and upper classes in the early 20th century, boosted by modern conveniences like elevators and central heating. Developers of elegant apartments borrowed Parisian cachet by employing the euphemism “French flats” to distinguish their real estate from tenements.

The Historical Society retains the right to reprint articles in any format or media, and retains the right to grant that permission to others.