2 King Street, on the corner of Sixth Ave. Originally considered part of the South Village, before there ever was a ‘SoHo’.
Its authenticity and diversity. It was affordable, and populated by people of all ages. It slowly evolved before your eyes from a simple, modest, working class Italian family neighborhood into the best, most novel, original and interesting place to live in the city. There was always a new restaurant, gallery, or store opening up somewhere. Anytime you walked down a block, something was different.
The dirt and grit.
The death of Etan Patz. His family lived directly across the street from a good friend of mine. The lights were always on in their loft, so you were always aware of the tragedy, whenever you walked down those streets.
I still live here. I moved here when I started Graduate School, just before the neighborhood began to change. As it continued to evolve, I always thought, “why would you want to move anywhere else, unless you absolutely had to?” It had become the best, most interesting neighborhood in the city to live.
Back in 1968, I had stumbled on a large 1 BR rental with a terrace, in a modern but modest, no frills building. We went co-op in 1987, just as the real estate market for co-ops began to develop. Unless people knew they’d soon be leaving the city, for people of modest means, each decision was an individual one, fraught with anxiety. Do you buy an uncertain investment or keep your rent-stabilized protection? Each decision was an individual one, more of a crap shoot than a slam dunk. While the ‘insider’ prices were reasonable, you were trading your very affordable rent for an uncertain investment, and had to be able to carry monthly expenses that could easily be 2.5 times what you were paying. Even though you could theoretically sell at a handsome profit, real estate prices began to rise everywhere, and you couldn’t duplicate what you had, and the uniqueness of the area, anywhere else in the city.