Luxury apartment living in New York City is just a fad? Millionaire Alfred Vanderbilt and his wife set the lifestyle pace (1904)

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Trendsetter Mrs Elsie French Vanderbilt, c1904

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Trendsetter Mrs Elsie French Vanderbilt, c1904

Flat living a fad

In New York City, Alfred Vanderbilt and his wife set the pace

All those persons who have lived in apartments when they were not fashionable now have their innings

Living in flats has become fashionable. Incredible as this may seem to some persons, it is nevertheless a fact. It is accounted for by the news that no less personages than Mr and Mrs Alfred Vanderbilt have taken an apartment for the winter in New York, hence the dictum above.

The result of this important move on the part of the Vanderbilts has been to make it possible for some very nice people to live in flats, a thing they could not have done before without losing prestige. But now that some of the Vanderbilt tribe have actually made up their minds to live in this simple manner, the prices of apartments have gone up, and it looks very much as if there would not be enough flats to go round in New York.

A great many persons who have lived in flats even when they were not fashionable will have a load lifted from their minds by the seal of approval put upon them by such an august personage as a Vanderbilt. Now if someone could only get the ear of Mrs V and try to persuade her to make fashionable a few other sensible things life would be easier for many of us. If, for instance, it was only a fad to wear last year’s hat and winter coat, not one of us would be seen going into a shop.

And oh, wouldn’t it be a good joke if flats became so correct that no one would be seen in a house? And the houses would of course be vacated and all the poor unfortunates who have longed to live in large rooms could get them for a song? This would be a turning of tables with a vengeance.

But there is small hope of Mrs Vanderbilt or Mrs Anybody Else making these things fashionable. Of course it wouldn’t be possible to wear last year’s hat and yet hope to be in it. Nay, nay. But so long as one is wishing, it might just as well be for pleasant things.

But it certainly gives one pause to think of a Vanderbilt in a flat. And it gives one absolute hysterics to think of the fashionable folk who will make themselves thoroughly uncomfortable living in an apartment just because it is the thing. One can hear some silly woman say: “Oh, yes, we have one of those dear little apartments such as the Vanderbilts have; yes, we like it so much, you know; it’s cozy and so many of our set are living that way this year, just between steamers, as it were.” La, da, da! Now can’t you hear her?

And don’t you know that before the Vanderbilts took an apartment this same elegant woman would have spoken of them as those “vulgar flats;” surely no one that “one knows” lives in flats, oh no! It makes all the difference in the world who lives in them.

Therefore it is that if you live in a flat this year you are having you innings and need not be ashamed of your surroundings. If at times it seems a little confined and you long for larger rooms, try to ponder upon the exalted persons who are residing in apartments and the thought of the very good company you are in will make you feel that it is an honor.

And the thought will come that if the fool-killer appears we might lose — well, not exactly our dearest friends — but some persons whom we would all miss.

Photo: Trendsetter Mrs Elsie French Vanderbilt, c1904

Vintage Vanderbilt Mansion in NYC

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