Andy and I are going to visit New York at Christmas, where we will be tourie, and I will enjoy the magical city for several days until the rude people, crowds, and prices get on my nerves.
Nora Ephron’s writings about New York are among my favorites, and of those, I particularly enjoy her New Yorker essay on her tenure at the Apthorp, a Renaissance Revival pile built originally in 1906 for William Waldorf Astor. It’s now luxury condos.
Ephron describes the beginning, when she moved in:
In February, 1980, two months after the birth of my second child and the simultaneous end of my marriage, I fell madly in love with a huge apartment on the Upper West Side. It was on the fifth floor of the Apthorp, a famous stone pile on the corner of Broadway and 79th Street. The rent was $1500 a month, which, by Manhattan standards, was practically a bargain. In addition, I had to pay the previous tenant $24,000 in key money for the right to move in. The apartment had beautiful rooms; high ceilings; lots of light; two gorgeous fireplaces; and five bedrooms. I was planning to live there forever. Till death did us part.
Rent stabilization works its magic: rather than dealing with the rent fluctuations as they are, the market works around the regulations, and front-loads the costs of rent increases:
At the time I moved in, the Apthorp was owned by a consortium of elderly persons–although, come to think of it, they were not much older than I am now. One of them was a charming, courtly gentlemen, active in all sorts of charities involving Holocaust survivors. He lived long enough to be taken to court for a number of things, none of them the crime that I happen to believe he was guilty of, which was lining his pockets with cash payoffs made by people who either moving in or moving out of the building. I was very fond of him and his sporty red Porche, which he drove right up to the day he was taken to the hospital. There he took his last kickback, from neighbors of mine, and died. The kickback was part of the $285,000 in key money neighbors had charged a new tenant for the right to take over their lease.
Can you imagine having to spend $285,000 to sign a lease?
It is, however, a remarkably lovely building in design: