June 19, 2013

"New York's narrowest house, which measures just 9.5 feet wide and 30 feet deep..."

"Located at 75 1/2 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, the three-story townhouse is legendary for both its size and its famous past inhabitants, which include Cary Grant, John Barrymore, Edna St Vincent Millay and Margaret Mead." Mead live there with her sister and her sister's wife, the cartoonist William Steig.

I love this place, which I've noticed in person many times. The linked article includes the floor plans and photos of most of the the interior spaces.

ADDED: I mean husband. What is happening to my mind in this world today!

60 comments:

Quaestor said...

Mead live there with her sister and her sister's wife, the cartoonist William Steig.

Wife?

Stephen Green said...
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Stephen Green said...
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bagoh20 said...

You gotta be kidding me - $4 million for that?

That's the real estate equivalent of a $4 million dollar pet rock owned by Elvis.

If I was gonna waste money on real estate, I'd take a bunch of acres on a Montana ranch with a huge fully decked out ranch house including exotic zoo animals, and a tank, or a really nice beach house on the Big Island of Hawaii for that kind of money. That's only if I wanted to waste it. Some people just don't know the value of money.


edutcher said...

The rooms are easily kept warm.

Ann Althouse said...

"Wife?"

LOL.

The whole idea of Cary Grant... and a woman named Mead...

I got confused.

Ann Althouse said...

I think it's totally worth the money. It's a cool building with a wonderful spirit of the past. Fully renovated. Nice backyard.

But most of all: Great location.

Ann Althouse said...

And yeah, low heating bills.

Quaestor said...

It seems like a fairly comfortable design for such a narrow floor plan. The stairways are a horror for any use except human conveyance; imagine trying to move furniture from the ground floor where the doors are to the second and third levels where the bedrooms are.

If it were mine I'd revise the stairways -- take out the space-devouring stairs from the kitchen to the basement, and replace the central staircase with a single spiral stairway from the rec room to the loft.

Paddy O said...

Not that New Yorkers care about which celebrities lived there...

Robert Cook said...

"If I was gonna waste money on real estate, I'd take a bunch of acres on a Montana ranch...."

But then you wouldn't be living in NYC.

The price includes the best neighborhood(s) in the country!

Quaestor said...

And those coal grates, the only practical source of heat when the house was built, but now just a waste of space and a source of drafts. So out they go.

Back gardens in Manhattan are a joke. Those pictures were taken when the sunlight was perfect, most of the day the back will be in shade. In the winter the sun may never directly illuminate the garden. A better use -- install a heated lap pool, assuming ordinances will permit and you can figure out how to get a backhoe back there.

AprilApple said...

I'm with Bagoh.

Quaestor said...

The price includes the best neighborhood(s) in the country!

Assuming you like pompous, overbearing, self-righteous, provincial blowhards for neighbors. In Montana your neighbors will be independent-minded, self-reliant, practical, Big Sky people. And they will be neighborly neighbors.

In the Village your neighbors will only like you if you are a celebrity (which bolsters their self-esteem) or if you flatter them unceasingly (which bolsters their self-esteem). Otherwise they won't give a damn whether you live or die.

Mitchell the Bat said...

With just a few modifications it'd make a pretty good sex dungeon.

MadisonMan said...

I do like that house -- it differs from its neighbors, and that's something I find attractive.

Quaestor said...

Manhattan is the place for high culture and fine dining, but much of high culture can be enjoyed anywhere these days (though I must say Butterfly at the Met is an experience unequaled by electronic reproduction) and fine dining has its limits. Nowhere in New York City can you enjoy Truites Meunières caught by yourself on your own property.

El Pollo Raylan said...

ADDED: I mean husband. What is happening to my mind in this world today!

"Her wife" and "his husband" portends marriage equality and the requisite retooling of language.

Dave D said...

9 ft side is narrower than my daughter's room (the narrowest room in my house!). That's too small. Could NEVER live like that.

Peter said...

"he stairways are a horror for any use except human conveyance; imagine trying to move furniture from the ground floor where the doors are to the second and third levels where the bedrooms are."

Considering that this bldg cost about $4,000. per square foot, I'd replace the spiral stairway with a set of narrow aluminum ladders. And install an electric hoist system on the roof to take care of furniture moving.

As for not needing much heat, well, that's true- but most row houses won't need much heat, as heat loss is a function of exterior area not of interior volume- and area that's exposed directly to the heated row house next door doesn't count.

It wouldn't surprise me if this was a good value, by NYC real estate standards. But that's an argument for finding a way not to have to live in NYC.

Palladian said...

The price includes the best neighborhood(s) in the country!

These days it's just another ungated community for rich pretend bohemians.

But hey, it's right near a PATH station, so you can get beat up at night by gangs of transgendered ethnic kids from New Jersey, for that authentic urban frisson.

bagoh20 said...

OK, you people that think this is worth the money, tell me how that's much different than a jail cell that once housed Al Capone.

Cramped, no open space, no car, no privacy, surrounded on all sides by festering citizens who think what the IRS did with the Tea Party is a good thing, and a warden that tells you how big a soda you can have. There is very little you can do that violates the desires of other people who are all over you and watching your every move. Sure you can think whatever you want, but your actions, including how you modify your immediate environment, and what you bring into it are completely controlled by others. The big city is as much a trap as an adventure, and mostly a trap in a hole like that. You imagine you would go to the theater, and have wonderful conversations on a park bench, but the plays get predictable, and so do the people in the park. There are people who prefere to be in prison too, so it takes all kinds, I suppose.

I happen to love Manhattan, but only on a visit. I need my space.

traditionalguy said...

That Carrige entrance built in is a famous stop on walking tours of Greenwich Village. There are also other entrances still there for visual looks in.

New York was an old Dutch town that has undergone some amazing development since the Erie Canal made it into a world trade center.

ricpic said...

I'll bet most of the big names that lived there didn't live there long.

Quaestor said...

New York was an old Dutch town that has undergone some amazing development since the Erie Canal made it into a world trade center.

Consider how much NYC owes to the beaver hat.

Quaestor said...

I'll bet most of the big names that lived there didn't live there long.

However long that old fraud Margaret Mead lived there, it wasn't long enough.

bagoh20 said...

I have some water that once fell as rain on a T-Rex, and later washed the blood away after Anne Boleyn was dispatched. Now that's history - 8 ounces - $1295.00

Don said...

You're choice of William Steig books befuddles me. Here is the William Steig book that comes first to my mind.

(C D B ! D B S A B-Z B.... I N-V U.)

El Pollo Raylan said...

OK, you people that think this is worth the money, tell me how that's much different than a jail cell that once housed Al Capone.

Are you kidding? People would love to turn Alcatraz into habitable space. People would kill for that view.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Consider how much NYC owes to the beaver hat.

It's downright Astor-nomical!

Quaestor said...

Here is the William Steig book that comes first to my mind.

No William Steig books came to my mind, but a little research revealed him as the creator of Shrek.

Quaestor said...

It's downright Astor-nomical!

Between the War of 1812 and the Mexican War American exports amounted to cotton, tobacco, whale oil and pelts. Tobacco went out mostly through Norfolk and Wilmington. Cotton exited through Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. Whale oil was often delivered directly to foreign markets by the whaling ships. If not for the Erie Canal the furs would have exported through the Saint Lawrence, leaving New York with a fine harbor but little commerce.

Lydia said...

Just looking at those interior shots makes me feel claustrophobic.

And it wasn't meant to be a house: "It was originally built around 1850, to fill in a carriage entrance way that led to stables behind the property. Before it became a home, the building was a shoemaker's shop and a candy factory."

bagoh20 said...

I bet when you take a crap in there, the whole family has to go have a picnic in central park to get down lunch.

bagoh20 said...

I wonder how much someone would pay to sleep in Bela Lugosi's coffin.

Quaestor said...

Are you kidding? People would love to turn Alcatraz into habitable space. People would kill for that view.

I'd like to know why the Feds haven't sold it. There must be tens of thousands of unused places owned by the gov't which could be auctioned off to help ease the national debt.

Quaestor said...

Before it became a home, the building was... a candy factory.

Specializing in licorice whips.

Quaestor said...

I wonder how much someone would pay to sleep in Bela Lugosi's coffin.

Given his habits in life the current resident is probably well preserved.

Augie Fartro said...

So, in order for the person sleeping in the guest bedroom to take a leak, they have to go downstairs to the "master" bathroom? For 4.3 million fucking dollars?

CWJ said...

Althouse saying that you're buying the best real estate @4.3mm. May be true but LOL. $4.3mm on a 30 note ignoring property taxes, ignoring debt service, works out to nearly $400 per day.

Yeah for that you could live elsewhere and fly in to NY whenever you wanted, have a very nice hotel, and see anything you wanted anytime.

CWJ said...

Unless you have to work there (Manhattan), or unless you have to be seen or see others there, why would you invest in living there full time.

Not running the place down, no not at all. It's just that the dollars and cents don't make sense.

Ann Althouse said...

"You're choice of William Steig books befuddles me"

It's the one my sons read the most.

Christy said...

Years ago a young couple I knew owned an 8' wide house in the Fells Point area of Baltimore. And I don't think it was the only one.

ken in sc said...

You can get a nice 8' wide mobile home, furnished, for a lot less.

Robert Cook said...

"In the Village your neighbors will only like you if you are a celebrity (which bolsters their self-esteem) or if you flatter them unceasingly (which bolsters their self-esteem). Otherwise they won't give a damn whether you live or die."

Is this rant based on your personal experience or is it just your surmise?

Besides, who's limiting the "neighborhood(s)" I mentioned to just the Village? I'm talking about all of Manhattan...and even the other boroughs.

Deb said...

I'd buy it if it were haunted.

Quaestor said...

Robert Cook wrote:
Is this rant based on your personal experience...

I used to live across the street from the Morgan Library between Park and 5th Avenue. The Doral is around the corner. My aunt lived in the Village at 1 Christopher Street. The original Hungry Eye, the epicenter of Beat culture was just down the block.

So what was your point about the great neighborhood making that tiny townie worth 4.3 million, if you're including other sections and boroughs? If your so keen to live there I suggest 130th Street and Lennox Ave.

Any more questions?

Michael said...

Quaestor. At 125 and lenox you can stroll into the Red Rooster and enjoy some crappy fried chicken. For 4.3 mil you could find a lot more room in a townhouse near the park up there in Harlem. Downtown in a tiny house wouldnt get it for me.

El Pollo Raylan said...

That kind of pricing seems very profit-oriented. I bet whoever bought it is a rapacious Wall St. profiteer, or a Donald Trump type tycoon.

Quaestor said...

I bet whoever bought it is a rapacious Wall St. profiteer, or a Donald Trump type tycoon.

I bet whoever sold it is a rapacious Wall Street profiteer, or a Donald Trump type tycoon.

ampersand said...

How are these NY houses built. Do buildings share a common wall? Or does each have it's own exterior wall? How would you maintain it if something should go wrong? Mold, Mildew, grouting.

El Pollo Raylan said...

How are these NY houses built. Do buildings share a common wall? Or does each have it's own exterior wall? How would you maintain it if something should go wrong? Mold, Mildew, grouting.

There's just enough space between buildings to accommodate rats and cockroaches.

Quaestor said...

David Dinkins used to live on 130th near Lennox before he moved to Gracie, and did his best to ruin the city. Nobody with any common sense lives in Manhattan these days, which explains Bloomberg's tenure. NYC is going down the path pioneered by Detroit. Sooner or later the bills will come due (more soon and late I predict).

Quaestor said...

There's just enough space between buildings to accommodate rats and cockroaches.

Because of aggressive greenism at Bloomberg's City Hall a lot of pesticides that are approved by the feds are banned in NYC. Consequently the vermin problem has reached Third World levels in some neighborhoods. Fine dining has an interesting meaning in New York these days.

Dante said...

I think claustrophobics ought to unite, to have the building torn down, and replaced with a public garden.

Even the thought of people living in that tight of a space, let alone living there, makes it hard to breathe. It's not fair, it is an obamanation, insensitive, and should go.

ampersand said...

Even the thought of people living in that tight of a space, let alone living there, makes it hard to breathe

Nonsense, Comrade, there's room for three or four families in that space.

bagoh20 said...

Imagine the uproar if you told someone on section 8 housing that they had to live there. It's racist!

Michael said...

Quaestor: If you believe the vermin problem is something now just wait for the piles of compost bins. Eco-wise this is the dumbest yet for Bloomberg. The citizens will have to acquire these plastic (plastic) bins and haul them up their elevators (electric elevators) to their cubby holes wherein they will load them up with scraps of food left from Chinese take-out etc Every couple of weeks they will ride them down the elevators (electric elevators) to the street below where, I presume, they will rest until picked up by the huge truck (Diesel powered truck) and driven to a spot (pretty far away) that needs compost. The empty bins (plastic) will then sit by the curb until retrieved by the owners who will ride the elevator (electric) down to get them and then ride the elevator (electric) up to resume the process of caressing mother earth.

Quaestor said...

Michael wrote:
If you believe the vermin problem is something now just wait for the piles of compost bins...

Worth a look

Robert Cook said...

"So what was your point about the great neighborhood making that tiny townie worth 4.3 million, if you're including other sections and boroughs? If your so keen to live there I suggest 130th Street and Lennox Ave."

I don't need to...I already live here...in Manhattan. The whole city is available to me at my whim and need.