The Webster Apartments: for women only

At the beginning of the 20th century, it definitely wasn’t acceptable for single females to rent an apartment of their own. Which is why women’s residences sprang up all over Manhattan.

thewebsterpostcard

 One was the Webster Apartments at 419 West 34th Street. The founders, Charles and Josiah Webster, were cousins of R.H. Macy; they left their fortune to the creation of a home for unmarried working women. 

“The apartments are to operated without profit, meals at nominal prices are to be served, and a library and other conveniences are to be provided,” The New York Times wrote in 1916, when Charles Webster’s will was made public.

The residence opened in 1923. A room and two meals a day on a lower floor ran $8.50 a week; upper floor rooms plus meals went for $12 weekly. The Webster also provided sewing machines, an infirmary, a roof garden, and a library, with books “selected by a trained librarian,” the Times noted.

 It all sounds quaint and unnecessary in today’s world. But The Webster is still going strong almost a century later, providing living quarters to hundreds of women at a time. 

Other women’s residences are also still thriving. There’s the Jeanne d’Arc Home in Chelsea.

In the defunct female hotel category, check out the Barbizon and the Trowmart.

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11 Responses to “The Webster Apartments: for women only”

  1. A Gowanus Lounge Goodbye for Robert Guskind - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com Says:

    […] single women, a room in Manhattan and two meals a day for $8.50 a week. That was 1923 at the Webster Apartments, which are still operating today. [Ephemeral New […]

  2. Joe R Says:

    I visited a friend there about 20 years ago. Men were not allowed above the first floor. Ladies receiving male visitors would take them to the “beau parlors”, which were a row of open stalls set up to look like comfy living rooms. Do they still have them?

  3. Tony Picco Says:

    Yes they still have a communal meeting area on the first floor. Men are not permitted above the ground floor, but there are ample sized meeting areas on the first floor, looking like gigantic living rooms…

  4. Kelley Alford Says:

    Would it be possible for my daughter to live there? She lives in Brooklyn now, her apartment was robbed yesterday, and she needs a safe place to go.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    I’d call the Webster and find out:
    http://www.websterapartments.org/apply.htm

  6. The Martha Washington: “for women guests only” « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the decades, as other women-only hotels opened, it remained a safe place for fresh-off-the-bus models, actresses, and students. 1920s actress […]

  7. PM Says:

    Does anyone know if a credit check is involved when applying to stay at The Webster?

  8. Cathy waller Says:

    I want to know if, there are ‘women only” apartments in ALL of the US States?? please let me know thank you!

  9. Michael Cooney Says:

    On this related page, the apartment buildings on 57th dtreet and 9th avenue, formerly called the Windmere, was in 1896 called the Goodman Building and in June of that year, the NY Times ran a full page article on The Woman’s Page about how Mr. Goodman, influenced by his poet daughters, opened 3/4 of his 3 attached buildings for apts for single women. This would be the first example of single women’s residences. My family lived there from 1925 to 2000.

  10. Michael Cooney Says:

    See the Windmere Apts at 400 -406 west 57th st and 9th ave. The first building where women could have their own apt. See the Women’s Page, June, 1896, NY Times. Then called the Goodman Building, he was influenced by his poetess daughters.

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