What is a Railroad Apartment?

What is a Railroad Apartment?

A railroad apartment is a type of apartment layout commonly found in older buildings, especially in cities like New York. The defining feature of a railroad apartment is its linear, elongated layout where rooms are arranged in a sequence, one after the other, similar to the cars of a train. Here are some key characteristics of a railroad apartment:

  1. Linear Layout: The rooms are arranged in a straight line, with each room leading directly into the next. There is typically no central hallway.
  2. Walk-Through Rooms: To move from one room to another, you usually have to walk through each room. This can include walking through bedrooms or living areas to reach other parts of the apartment.
  3. Long and Narrow: Railroad apartments are often long and narrow, which maximizes the use of space in a building.
  4. Access: The entrance is typically at one end of the apartment, leading directly into the living area or a bedroom.

Pros and Cons of Railroad Apartments


  • Cost-Effective: These apartments can often be more affordable compared to other layouts.
  • High Ceilings and Windows: Many railroad apartments have high ceilings and multiple windows, providing a sense of space and natural light.
  • Character: They often have unique architectural details and charm.


  • Privacy: The lack of a hallway can compromise privacy, as you may have to walk through someone else's room to get to another part of the apartment.
  • Layout Challenges: The linear arrangement can make it difficult to arrange furniture and use space efficiently.
  • Limited Flow: The flow of the apartment can feel less cohesive compared to more modern layouts with distinct rooms separated by hallways.

A railroad apartment is a specific type of layout with a sequential arrangement of rooms, offering both unique charm and certain challenges.

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