Yesterday, EV Grieve discovered a page in the NYPL archives titled: "Apartment Houses of the Metropolis," from 1909. A "model tenement house" at 224-226 Avenue B was being advertised for $20 to $25 per month rent—each unit contained two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room or parlor. So the question is, how much are these apartments going for today? They note there are a couple of two-bedrooms on the market at 224 Avenue B right now, going for $2,395 and $2,295—to put things in perspective, "$25 in 1909 is equivalent to $589.50 in 2009 [but] inflation calculators don't take into account East Village inflation." Another apartment was recently on the market in the same building for $3,500/month—still a 2 bedroom/1 bath.
There are plenty more apartment buildings featured at the NYPL... where we learn that before the internet, people apparently read real estate materials titled, "An Essay on Duplex Apartments in general, and those at 471 Park Avenue in particular."