In the late 19th century, could you class up a typical city tenement building by calling it a flat?
Looks like some developers thought so.
“French flats”—distinguished from tenement houses by modern luxuries such as parlors, dining rooms, servants’ rooms, and indoor plumbing—caught on in the city after 1870.
But considering that neither Williamsburg nor the East Village were upper-class neighborhoods, I doubt the residents who ended up in the Havemayer Flats, on Havemayer Street, or the Mascot Flats, at 6th Street near Avenue D, had servants.
Mascot Flats has an interesting recent history. Abandoned and then torn apart by thieves and drug addicts by the early 1980s, it was renovated in 1986 with help from Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity.
Check out photos of the pre-renovated interior here. A 1990 documentary, The Rebuilding of Mascot Flats, chronicles its rebirth.