$20/month rent in Williamsburg? This 1940 rent map shows it happened

This could probably be relabeled as a cocktail price map in a year or two
This could probably be relabeled as a cocktail price map in a year or two. via Brooklyn Historical Society

Rent maps of Brooklyn tend to make us sad. In the last month alone, we’ve had maps tell us we spend way too much on rent and that¬†we’ll always need roommates. Thanks, maps. Now Curbed has found a map from the depths of the Brooklyn Historical Society,¬†eternal guardians of relics that make us regret our birth years, that shows the average rent in Brooklyn in 1940. $20 for rent in Williamsburg? Now we feel bad all over again. Thanks, maps.

Rent in most areas of the borough ranges from $20-49 per month, with pricier areas costing upwards of $100. There’s a bit of a neighborhood price flip, with North Brooklyn actually being the cheaper part while areas like Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, and Midwood commanding the three digit prices. The popular locations don’t seem too surprising: Coney Island was pretty ritzy back then, Bay Ridge’s ocean breeze game was probably on point, and Midwood has always been pretty and pretty ain’t cheap.

Brooklyn Historical Society - Average Monthly Rent by Blocks - 1940

What’s crazy though is what that rent is worth today: $100 back then is the equivalent of $1,680 today. The map doesn’t specify how many rooms were in each unit, so we’re not positive this was the price the average person paid or if it was the price of multi-room units, but it’s weirdly cathartic to think Bubbe also had to deal with an outrageous rent market, on top of the whole war thing. Maybe there’s a chance we’ll make it too.

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