In Manhattan, owning a Penthouse apartment has long indicated a level of superior wealth. Owning a penthouse can be the ultimate status symbol, but it is also a way for the very rich to preserve their wealth by stashing $20, $50 or $100 million in a vertical bank of sorts outside traditional financial institutions.
Prior to the 1920s, before the widespread adoption of elevators in residential buildings, the top floor of apartment buildings were relegated to staff quarters. The staff would have to walk up 12 stories to get to their homes. How times have changed! The first Penthouse was thought to be at 1107 Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side. With 54 rooms over the top 3 floors of this 14-story building, New York City had never seen such a thing.
With all the technological advancements over the last 100 years, now some penthouses reach to 1,500 feet in the air, such as at Central Park Tower, which has a triplex penthouse (yes - 3 full floors) on the 129th floor. Elevator advancements allow owners to get to their top floor apartment in 90 seconds. Quite a feat.
While most people consider the Penthouse to be solely the top floor of the building, today, the term is used more generally denoting a special apartment in a residential building that is unlike the others.
Often penthouses will have the largest living spaces, highest ceilings, grand floor plans, private outdoor terraces, special amenities such as pools, and one-of-a-kind finishes. Of course, most penthouses will also boast some of the best views of the city! While Penthouses in NYC can go up to well over $100 million, you don’t necessarily have to be a billionaire to own one either.