Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Henry Street townhouses

 April 30th, 2013

Two years and counting...

They say you should write about what you know. I'll just show you.

Today, air conditioners are being delivered to the Henry Street townhouses.

On the street, there is much digging. My wake up call was a pneumatic drill. My lunchtime distraction was a pneumatic drill. The background music for my editing was a pneumatic drill. 

The cat is beginning to purr like a pneum...

April 30, 2013 

I think today might be the day that they finally kill one of the oak trees on the sidewalk. I love those trees - and for the houses' new owners, out of pocket several million dollars ($4,600 and $4,800, apparently) after purchase, they are important for privacy, too. A trench is being dug right beside the tree farthest to the left (below).

The trees have never been protected.

In a sense, I have not minded the construction - this is New York. Whaddayagonnado? It did become problematic last year while I was writing my book, as the noise was profound, but once summer arrived and  the sliding door to the terrace was shut and the airconditioner on, it all disappeared into a white noise hum.

Naturally, as it is spring, the door is open again, the noise is back. Ironically, when it is all finally done, it might be time for us to move on.

April 30th, 2013 - the oak's death knell?

What has been very aggravating in the last couple of months, has been the water main breaks. There had never been houses on the site before, so everything had to be laid from scratch. Sewers, water, gas, electricity. Water to our building has been shut off without warning, for hours, and when it comes back on it is dark brown and filled with mud. This kills the laundry that is in the machine at the time. Like, dead. And drinking tap water seems unappealing, for a while.

So, here's a little construction tour, going back in time to 2011, from my very subjective and usually elevated point of view.

April 16, 2013 - next door, the new outdoor shower. Neighbours will be friendly...

April 2, 2013 - dig, dig, dig

March 15, 2013 - gas lines

February 27, 2013 - water, dig, dig, dig

 January 9, 2013 -  the penthouse level gets sliding doors

September 27, 2012 - the oaks give us all some privacy

July 6, 2012 - top floor shells are done

April 3, 2012 - the basement walls are in

April 3, 2012 - it was a noisy time...

March 20, 2012 - delivery

March 13, 2013 - some concrete cutting action next door at the former Amity Street Horror 

March 12, 2013 - the first floors going in

March 1, 2013 - basement walls are in

February 17, 2013 - we need some concrete

December 20, 2011 - once home to feral cats, now home to tractor cats. Dig, dig, dig.

November 9, 2011 - steel I-beam delivery

Noise - from the first new townhouse, around the corner, on Amity Street

February 28, 2011 - the empty site, brooding

I had imagined designing a garden, in this neglected space here, before the so-called Amity Street Horror (otherwise known as The Lamm Institute) was sold by Long Island College Hospital and turned from a care facility for children with disabilities, to future residence of the well heeled

Ain't no space for gardens, now. 

And I wonder where the children went?

I'll just leave you with a little construction lullaby, courtesy of a few minutes ago:



  1. I know this story so well . Same here in Istanbul. There is always a construction going on, and noise, and dust... But may be when you come back from South Africa it will all be finished .....

  2. Moving on eh? Well I got the feeling that might be happening. Beence has hinted that he is ready for the next adventure. Perhaps it is time to go back to South Africa and explore the food there....or Canada, the Pacific Islands, Australia....or you could just be looking for a little more living space in NY. Wherever you go, it will be an adventure, I am sure.

  3. Hate to hear that, but will assume the best. It seems like you could build your own place having watched all that's gone on. Am surprised that A\C went in so late, tho.

    1. The duct work is all in place. The units will go on the roof, presumably.

      We're going nowhere soon (neither is the construction!) but we do need m o r e space :-)

  4. Since you first posted a picture of the roof top shower (opposite, I think?) I've been chuckling that no one thought who might see from higher up!
    Definitely NOT chuckling at that basin of icky water.

    1. 'Higher up' is normal thinking in NYC, so I was surprised, too - their PH neighbors will be an acorn's throw away.

      I'm sure the gunge-effect will be long gone by the time you get here.

  5. You surely must be a Saint to have lived with that for two years. I probably would have been driven to get medieval on them. Talking about more space, especially for a garden - have you ever tried to join the Roosevelt Island Garden club?

    1. Hey Jack - no saint. But why get medieval on construction workers who are going to do the job, regardless?

      Are you serious about Roosevelt Island's garden club? Did you see the article in The Times about them? It's a great read:


      And I kind of think one has to live on Roosevelt Island, to belong :-)

    2. Of course you are right about the construction workers but it would try my patience.

      I did read the Times article and thought it was an interesting place even with all the politics. I didn't realize you had to live on the island to have a plot there. Also I don't have any real idea how complicated it would be for you to get there from where your apartment is.

      Hope you have a nice trip to SA. I hope to get there in the next couple years myself. May ask you for some recommendations!

  6. Ugh, i know that noise so well. Not only do we have the second avenue subway construction blasting night and day up here, but there is also a 15 storey private school going in on the next block over and the noise is DREADFUL. I was home sick on friday and immediately regretted it.

  7. Goodness, I'm mourning for the side windows of the building to the left. Adieu forever light and view. How dreadful to suddenly find a brick wall filling your window a few feet away...

    1. Well, since no one lived there they won't know what they are missing, and after paying several million for each apartment I think they will make a point of falling in love with their other windows :-)

  8. EEK! I was lucky enough to be woken by the song of a thrush this morning...At the front of my house however, they are loudly resurfacing the road (there was nothing wrong with the road before!)
    It will soon be finished, Marie, hopefully in time for your return : )

  9. I know this very well here in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil. The same history. I live in a small rented flat in a small building constructed at the end of II World War, circled by "those new" expensive blocks of concrete and glass. What a bad taste! The last victim was a huge and very old house (1920's) with a neglected garden. Now is a tall monster of glass for "new rich". Garden? Trees? Some grass, some ordinary daylillies and the only one tree that survived, a poor and small (cut) myrtle crape... But, the life goes on...

  10. Good morning: I feel your pain....here on 57th Street we are surrounded by three construction sites. My balcony "garden" covered in construction dust. The Hudson River view (now through dirty windows...) does not ease the pain...time to move. Hudson Heights here we come. Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters and the GWB and up the river views. The "A" train.....May the lawyer finish her due diligence....GH

  11. I get that NYC is very cool and you have more access to publishing, etc. Go west! As Vince will tell you and you've seen the PNW is wonderful and the Internet connects you to everything. The only downside is when flying eastward it take 5.5 hours to fly across the US :-)


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