NYC’s Oldest Buildings: What Are They and Where Are They? Test Your Knowledge

June 10, 2014

New York has a lot of old buildings. Perhaps surprisingly, many of those buildings are actually houses (yes, like real houses). These remnants of the early Dutch farming days can be spotted throughout the five boroughs, as can churches, apartments and “skyscrapers” from earlier times. We’ve rounded up some of the city’s oldest structures. Test your knowledge and see how many you’re familiar with ahead. And while you’re at it, make plans to visit one of these historic landmarks the next time you’re out and about.

Oldest Church (1694)

Old Quaker Meeting House

Everyone knows Trinity Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but you’ve probably never heard of this one: the Old Quaker Meeting House in Flushing. It was built in 1694 and is considered the oldest house of worship in the state. It’s had visitors like George Washington, and is still a meeting place for Quakers!

Location: 13716 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY 11354

Oldest Government Building (1812)

New York City Hall

Not only is this the largest government building in the city, it happens to be the oldest city hall in the U.S. that still houses, well, the government. The Governor’s Room, which features incredible historical furniture and portraits, has hosted such esteemed guests as Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein.

Location: City Hall, 260 Broadway New York, NY 10007

Oldest Skyscraper (1901)

The Flatiron Building

So, technically the first skyscraper built in the city was The Tower Building in 1889. It was 11 stories high, and was considered the city’s first skyscraper because it was the first building to have a steel skeleton. It was demolished in 1913. However, the next iconic skyscraper was built in 1901 and is still standing there today. Recognize it? At the time, the then-daring shape of the Flatiron building (originally the Fuller building) actually upset a lot of people in the city. They called it “awkward” and “a monstrosity,” but the public opinion is much different today.

Location: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Oldest Apartment Building (1879)


The first apartment building in the city, the Stuyvesant Apartments on E. 18th Street, no longer stands, but at the time it was an innovative new creation brought from France overseas. Before 1870 there were no “acceptable” communal living situations for middle class residents (i.e., not tenements). The introduction of apartment buildings solved a huge problem for businessmen and couples who didn’t need all the space of a house. At 129 E. 17th Street, the oldest continuously lived in apartment building is getting a makeover into duplex apartments, though the renovators are taking care to preserve the interior.

Location: 129 E 17th St New York, NY 10003

Oldest School (1867)

PS 34 in Greenpoint

The oldest school building is P.S. 34 in Greenpoint. It was used as a hospital during the Civil War.

Location: 131 Norman Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Oldest Building (1652)

Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House

Finally, the oldest, still-standing building in New York City is the Wyckoff House in Canarsie. Built by Pieter Claeson Wyckoff in 1652, there have been additions on the house, but the original structure is pure 1600s. It used to be a farmhouse, but the city slowly filled in around it, and it’s now a museum.

Location: 5816 Clarendon Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11203

Lead Image: © Jeffrey Zeldman

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