New York Notes: 200 Square Feet in the Big City

“Sure, your only window has a view of a brick wall. 
"But on the other side of that wall is NEW YORK CITY.”

- NYC apartment ad

In a recent visit with about 100 students from my alma mater on a trip to New York, a few asked me about finding an apartment here.

I confirmed that the rumors they have heard are true.  What you see on TV sitcoms – 20-somethings with no discernible source of income living in sprawling apartments – is not reality.

Sharing a cramped apartment with five or six people?  Now we're getting real.

Two of my first apartments in the city were "studio" apartments - which in real estate-speak means "no bedroom."  Each was about 200 square feet.

Here is the floor plan from that first NYC apartment (shown almost actual size):

This was definitely smaller than my college dorm room.

I don't have any photos, but even the best panoramic lens couldn’t have captured the limitations of the tiny space.

That first apartment was at the bottom of an air shaft.  The kitchen was in a tiny closet.  It was definitely an apartment for one (although a mouse once briefly moved in…eek).  I only got sunshine at high noon -  and then only for seven minutes.

But the price was right, it was half a block from Central Park and across the street from the Dakota.  I walked home from work through the Park, and periodically saw celebrity neighbors like Harrison Ford getting coffee or Yoko Ono picking up dry cleaning.  The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was just a few steps outside my front door, and 24-hour diners were great "living rooms" for meeting up with friends.  Lincoln Center and countless theaters were just a short walk away. 

I lived there for two years.  The view across that air shaft?  A brick wall.

But on the other side of that wall was New York City.