Saturday, August 26, 2006

No such thing

Apartment living, Manhattan style:
BEN SNYDACKER is just 21, and a freshly minted New Yorker. Tall and brash, he’s enjoying his third month in his new job, as a sales assistant for Virgin Records, and his new apartment, a minute space creatively described as a two-bedroom in a rank 19th-century tenement building on Avenue B that he shares with a college roommate (monthly rent: $2,600).
Hey, it's expensive to be hip! Even when I was looking for living space in Manhattan in the late 90's, I ran into rents like that, but the Alphabet Avenues were supposed to be where the hippies lived, and everyone knows hippies can't afford that rent, so who's moving in now?

I lived most of my New York life in Upper Manahattan, just south of the Bronx, near the Cloisters. That I was above 96th Street sparked much derision from the fashion set, but I didn't care. It was a three-bedroom with one roomate who spent only fall and spring weekends there. A long subway ride from mid-town to be sure and an expensive cab ride, but my share of the rent was only $500.

When my husband and I decided to move in together, we spent weekends pounding the pavement on the Lower East Side. Ninth Street was particularly beautiful and when we stopped a Russian landlady to inquire about vacancies, she scoffed, "Huh! No such thing."

One Sunday morning we called up an on a listing and the broker met us on a corner down by the Fulton Fish Market. The apartment was beautiful -- fourteen foot-high ceilings, four eight-foot high windows, a loft in the living room and bedroom, and real red brick walls. Directly across from the East River, it was the first building in Manhattan to have electricity and I think it used to house fisherman. We starry-eyed lovers did not notice the FDR Freeway between the river and our window, nor did we notice the stench of fish, but then it wasn't summer yet and finally, we didn't notice that the apartment was over the Paris Cafe.

On the second floor of this elevator building, our front door opened up to a long and narrow hallway which led to a full bathroom and kitchen before opening up into the living room. I was proud of that apartment, all 500-square feet of it.

But it cost me more than the current mortgage on my 2050-square foot home in a neighborhood with good schools. You can't really call the South Street Seaport a neighborhood so much as a hybrid of a touristy mall and a dirty, dank forgotten fish locker.

Still, there was a little restaurant about three blocks away under the Brooklyn Bridge called The Bridge Cafe; it was a little out of our price range, so we'd split meals at the bar -- oh, at least three times a week. Kenny was our favorite bartender and very generous with portions. Thinking about their polenta-stuff portabella mushroom makes my mouth water, but I'm sure it was taken off the menu years ago.

Before we left -- and I'm sorry if I'm repeating this story -- we commissioned a local artist to paint the restaurant for us. It was a supremely romantic gesture, I thought, and we spent a lot of money. Alas, it was stolen in the move from New York to Texas. I have, at least, my memories, though.


Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

Alas, it was stolen in the move from New York to Texas.

Were you all using Allied? Thanks to them, I had my 32-inch RCA stolen when I moved back to Texas from Montana in 1998.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

All-American Movers. They also took two computers, our stereo equipment, a sewing machine -- basically anything we had that had to be plugged in. I'm still mad.

I put my grandmother's silver in the mail, and it arrived safely.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous mover guy said...

I can't figure out what I like better these days: the 32 inch RCA or the painting of the restaurant. Thanks!!

5:15 PM  

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