Here is another photo of a fire escape taken in front of an old apartment building in the East Village. The fire escape structure here is overgrown with plants, which suggests that nobody has used it in a long time. I guess that is a good thing.
Notice the size of the windows on the building. You can usually tell the age of the building by the size of the windows on them. Buildings constructed before World War II (commonly known as pre-war buildings) tended to have smaller windows because they did not use steel in the overall structure. They were mostly constructed with bricks and concrete, which are very heavy. As a result, these buildings can only afford smaller openings to maintain the structures' integrity. Newer buildings now use a lot of steel, which is significantly lighter and stronger than concrete, and therefore, have larger windows.
I live in a co-op building constructed in 1928. It has small windows but really thick concrete walls, which are great for noise and temperature insulation.
So do you know when your house was built?