Buy Curious

What's a 'classic six' apartment, and why are they so desirable?

By Leah Hochbaum Rosner | August 30, 2022 - 9:30AM

This two-bedroom co-op, 20 Sutton Place South, #6D/SR1, has a classic six layout with a home office. It is asking $1,950,000. 

J & C Lamb Management Corp/StreetEasy

If you’re drawn to New York’s older, prewar buildings, you’re probably a fan of the classic six. These are apartments with detailed facades, high ceilings, and plaster moldings—and as the name suggests, a layout with six, separate rooms. 

A classic six also has coveted features like large rooms, wood floors, and solid-core doors. These types of apartments can allow for some flexibility to accommodate a home office or reconfigure a smaller kitchen. This is something that can be hard to find in many new developments or refurbished buildings. Classic six apartments are mostly found on Manhattan’s Upper East and Upper West sides.

In this Buy Curious column, Marcy Sigler, a broker with Compass, explains how this type of apartment has both benefits and drawbacks.

[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in August 2021. We are presenting it with updated information for August 2022.]

The question:

I’ve been looking at apartment listings, and I keep running into the phrase, “classic six” (and classic five, classic seven, and so on). What exactly does that mean, and why is it desirable? Will I pay more to live in one? Where are they located?

The reality:

“This term refers to a prewar apartment with six rooms, generally including the kitchen and bedrooms, and excluding the bathrooms, pantries and entrance galleries,” Sigler says.

A classic six has a living room, a formal dining room with a window, a separate kitchen, two full bedrooms, and what was previously a maid's room—usually located off the kitchen with its own full bathroom or half-bath.

A classic five lacks the maid's room, while a classic seven has an extra bedroom, and the rare classic eight has an additional small room

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What are classic sixes like?

These apartments are known for quintessential prewar features, such as oak floors, thick walls, solid-core doors, generous room proportions, a dining room, and the ultimate status symbol: a working wood-burning fireplace.

Where can you find a classic six?

“You'll often find classic apartments in co-op buildings that date back to the 1920s through 1940, primarily on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side,” Sigler says. 

That said, developers of new construction are incorporating some of the classic six details into their current projects.

“In recent years, developers of condo buildings like 520 Park Ave. in Lenox Hill and 220 Central Park South in Midtown have co-opted the classic layout, combining those old-school embellishments with modern extras like garages, gyms, pools and screening rooms,” Sigler says. 

“So if you're enamored with the prewar style, you don’t have to confine your search to decades-old buildings—or pass a co-op board,” she says.

How many classic sixes are for sale at the moment?

Fewer than 25 apartments listed on StreetEasy are described as a classic six. Some have already been reconfigured from their original design or have been combined with neighboring units into much grander apartments. 

Prices for classic six apartments on the market range from $950,000 for a Lenox Hill co-op to $7,800,000 for a Central Park West perch. Most classic six prewars on the market now are in the mid-$2 million to $4 million range.

Why would someone want to buy a classic six?

The pros of purchasing a classic six include high ceilings of at least nine feet as well as prewar details like plaster moldings and cornices. 

Some people also like the fact that classic sixes have defined living areas. The apartment is typically divided into three zones—public (living room, dining room, library), private (bedrooms), and so-called staff quarters (including the kitchen). 

There are usually hallways separating these areas, which also help define the spaces

What are the disadvantages of buying a classic six?

A classic six can make you feel somewhat boxed in and many New Yorkers prefer open plans with fewer walls and living spaces that feel more expansive.

“The lack of an open layout could be a downside if you have small children that you want to keep an eye on,” Sigler says. 

Finally, while a so-called maid’s room might have had a useful function when the apartment was built, it’s now more likely to be an impractically small room—although these days it is likely marketed as a home office space (but it might not work as a bedroom).

Want to see if classic six-style living appeals to you? Check out these apartments currently on the market.

35 Mt Morris Park West, New York, NY, 10027 photo #1 of 17

35 Mount Morris Park West, #5A, Harlem

This three-bedroom, one-bath co-op with a classic six floorplan has views of Marcus Garvey Park. It is asking $1,444,000. There are original details such as crown molding, wood paneling, wood floors, and a fireplace. Monthly maintenance is $1,120. This is an HDFC co-op and income restrictions apply.

20 Sutton Place South, New York, NY, 10022 photo #3 of 17

20 Sutton Place South #6D/SR1, Midtown East

This two-bedroom, two-bath co-op has a classic six layout with a home office. It is asking $1,950,000. It has partial river views, custom millwork, and a windowed kitchen. Maintenance is $3,796.

72 Orange Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11201 photo #1 of 12

72 Orange St., #4EF, Brooklyn Heights

This three-bedroom, two-bath co-op was renovated in 2015 and has a classic six layout. It is asking $2,135,000 after a 5 percent price drop about five weeks ago. The building has a common roof deck with views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline. Maintenance is $1,691.

330 West 72 Street, New York, NY, 10023 photo #5 of 7

330 West 72nd St., #8B, Upper West Side

This two-bedroom, two-bath co-op with a classic six format has views of Washington Bridge from the primary bedroom. It is asking $2,350,000. There’s a washer/dryer in the apartment. Maintenance is $4,510, which includes an assessment of $233 for capital improvements.

115 Central Park West, New York, NY, 10023 photo #1 of 19

115 Central Park West, #15H, Upper West Side

This two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath co-op with a classic six layout has views of Central Park and the Dakota’s facade. It is asking $4,250,000. An entrance foyer connects the living room and large formal dining room, with space for multiple seating arrangements. Monthly maintenance is $5,296.


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