I went to a JC oral history symposium today at the JC Museum. When the City Council President said he'd lived in a cold-water flat as a child, he stopped and looked up.
"Does anyone here know what a cold-water flat is?"
A few people raised their hands. I was one of them.
"It's an apartment without heat or hot water."
My old condo had been built as a cold-water flat. Though now it has, of course, a hot water heater and baseboard heat.
My old block had about 14 single family homes, and dozens of retrofitted cold-water flats from the late 1800s or early 1900s. This isn't as awful as it sounds, (though my sixty-year-old neighbor, who had lived in my place when he was four, remembered it as being "really cold"), because the apartments all had gas heaters that sat in fireplaces (which weren't for fires at all). The gas was also used for lighting.
A 74-year-old neighbor had kept her gas heater, and my upstairs neighbor had sandblasted and restored it for her. It was exquisite with all its detailed decorative metal work.
"And it still works," she'd state proudly.
I don't have a photo of that gas heater, but I spotted this one on a realtor's website yesterday.