Monday, March 7, 2011

aka 7-and-a-half

wow that was not easy, setting up this blog. This may be my first and last blog post, ever....

I decided to do this as a kind of memorial to the building I live in, have lived in for the past 20+ years. It's not gone yet, but the plan is for it to be torn down this summer. It's a very old, very run down old tenement at 9 2nd Avenue just north of Houston street in Manhattan. For lack of a better term we are homesteaders, although the building's murky past re abandonment-or-not technically exempts us from officially claiming either squatter or homesteader identity. That said, this murky past, (plus repeated service technicalities) has helped us thwart 2 eviction attempts by the City (of NYC, a past owner) and enabled our ongoing residency here. We set our own monthly dues, enough to keep the building running and not falling down tomorrow. What we don't pay in cash we pay dearly in sweat and, at times, worry.

Shortly after I came into the building in 1991 I moved from a small apartment on the 3rd floor to the top floor in the back, converting a space that was 2 half-railroad apartments destroyed; a windowless, windswept unlivable garret, into a home. Can I put pictures on this thing? I want to show you a 360 view of my place. Forgive the mess in spots, I'm going thru my stuff. I think the pic below is clickable.

I have the rather unique configuration of having light from windows which face all 4 directions. More directions than that actually, thanks to the old shaftways on each side of the building, which were mandated in these tenements over a century ago in order to provide a newly legal amount of ventilation. Of my bunch of windows, at least one each faces N, S, E, and W, with additional NE and SE exposures thanks to the angled shaftway walls. Years ago Adam Thom, an architect friend of mine, referring to the rarity of such a layout at least in the not-top-end luxury apartment market, stressed that I never let go of this place. By then I had taken the home I built for granted, but I also knew what I had, and indeed, was never letting go of this place.


  1. I was lucky to live at 7 1/2 second avenue for 9 months in 2008. I loved it. It was quirky, quiet and being surrounded by all of andrea's things that reflected so much who she is and the journey she has been on was comforting and inspiring. So much love poured into a special place. I feel lucky to have been a small part of it's history. What a wonderful place.

  2. very interesting!!! how many 'homesteaders' are there??
    what's a railroad apartment??
    have you called your congressman?(takes me back many years to what the Americans would always say....)
    ...glad to see you're taking your vitamins.....
    I have no idea how to send this???

  3. I am so sorry this is happening to you. Please do keep up the blog.