I was walking down West 58th Street when I saw it: exactly half a brownstone (12.5 feet), gloriously smooshed between two much larger apartment buildings:
I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite buildings in midtown, the very similar 19 West 46th Street, also measuring 12.5 feet.
A number of readers have written me that the city used to sell lots in 25′ increments, and that developers would sometimes build two “twin” houses, each measuring 12.5′, on a single property. Perhaps one of the buildings at 420 West 58th St was razed at some point to make room for the surrounding apartments, leaving behind its anorexic twin.
If you’ve missed this great house in your travels, it’s understandable – for some bizarre reason, the owners have boxed in the bottom two floors in quite possibly the ugliest gray encasement imaginable.
A real tragedy when you look at the upper two floors and realize what is being hidden away.
Though I love the simplicity of the brownstone on West 46th Street, this has it beat in terms of detail – I love the rounded window and the ornamentation.
The third floor. Note the fire escape ladder:
Looking through the second floor windows, you can see the building is still in tact on the other side, forming a sort-of enclosed porch. Why they would choose to cover it up without even expanding the property makes no sense to me. Any guesses?
The bottom floor:
According to CityData.com, the house was built in 1910 and has 2,180 square feet. It doesn’t seem like it’s connected to either of the adjacent apartments, as the windows don’t line up – but this could be fixed with a small set of stairs.
Incredibly, the building doesn’t even appear on Google Maps’ Manhattan property outline map, a first in my experience.
Besides that ultra skinny building the West Village, anyone know of other “orphan” buildings in New York?