Flat, Maisonette, or Kommunalka, Here in America, it’s called an Apartment

The word apartment seems very common here in the US, but people around the world often use different names.

People in many English speaking countries often call them flats.  Even here in the US, the term flat is used in large cities to describe an apartment that’s all on one level.

In Scotland, they call it a tenement, which was the first name for American apartments in large cities.  The name tenement has a negative connotation because early tenements often had no heat, or running water.  The first tenements were single family homes broken up into private rooms to offer housing for the large crush of immigrants entering the country at that time. These new Americans had few choices about the type of home they could afford or even find for their families.

The first apartments in a modern city were in Rome. These were called insulae, which meant island because these large apartment buildings, sometime six or seven stories high, took up entire city blocks.  History tells us that most Romans lived in these apartments, which like early New York tenements, had no running water, or other amenities.

In France, you may hear the term maisonette, or small home, when someone refers to an apartment usually with two floors and an internal stair case.

In Russia, a “communal apartment,” or Kommunalka is a private room with a kitchen and bath you shared with other tenants. These were more common follwing the Russian Revolution in 1917 when the government seized the estates of the rich and turned them into communal housing.  Some of these still exist in Russia today.  You might remember the communal apartment scenes in the film “Dr. Zhivago” (Thank you wikipedia for the info.  For more, click here.)

Here at Poplar Ridge Apartments in Fort Wayne, IN, we use conventional American names for our apartments:  Studio, One bedroom, and two bedroom..  Wherever you’re from, we hope the term you use for Poplar Ridge  is “home.”

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