Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Old Apthorp

I started reading this article about a multi-generational family living in the Apthorp, a famous old apartment buinding on New York's Upper West Side, and I wanted to feel all the things I was supposed to feel. I wanted to feel nostalgia for the days when you'd balk at $675/month rent. I yearned to feel admiration for the quirky family with names like Coke and Mercury who took in stray cats and lost souls. I hoped to think, "Oh, it's so sad those days are gone and those developers really got their comeuppance" because over-developed highly priced apartments now stand empty. But, I have to admit, all I felt was annoyed, so annoyed that I had to stop reading.

Maybe it was the $675 starter controlled rent, or the current rent of $2,850, maintained by careful cultivation of an in-the-home income of $175,000. (I have no doubt that the family, succesful restaurateurs, has means well beyond that.) Maybe it was the strange shock that Coke felt in high school when he learned that not everyone in New York City lived in 8-room spreads. Maybe it's just the Apthorp, because used to be you were damn lucky to get an apartment in that building, and it turns out that a lot of people were damned lucky to get paid to leave. (Some, it's reported, were paid as much as a million dollars, this after paying below-market rents for decades.)

It's not that I don't think housing costs are too high in this city, they are, and the cost of renting or buying an apartment keeps people out or drives them away or leaves them on the streets. Housing is completely unreasonable. But, as a very succesful literary agent once told me, if you get lucky in New York, you can get really lucky, and everyone who had a chance to live in the Apthorp shared that luck and I'm just not so interested in mooning over its loss. I did that once with Nora Ephron. I could just barely take her amused self-indulgence about having to find a new eyebrow threader on the Upper East Side; the only reason I could was because it was Nora Ephron. But I can't do it again. It's enough about people mooning over the Apthorp. Moving on.

No comments: