The Aristocrat: The Mystery of the West Village Camper

I swear the camper in this picture has been parking on this street for years. Years.

Camper 01

Right around the corner from this block is a Manhattan office building that is routinely rented out by film productions. I’ve worked out of there on numerous movies, and over the course of a job, you end up driving down this street countless times. And if there is one thing you can always count on seeing, it’s this RV.

It’s been there for as long as I’ve been working in film production, back to my PA days. It’s even on Google Streetview, just one block west of where it is today:


The obvious answer is that it’s the base camper for some sort of construction in the area. However, as far as I can tell, 1) there’s no construction going on anywhere nearby, 2) if there is construction, it’s been going on for a very, very long time, and 3) I’ve never seen anyone going in or out of it. Plus, look at some of the items on the sidewalk: a dog crate, some wooden shelves, a lawn chair, lots of junk…

Camper 02

I’ve always wondered if someone lives here permanently. Sometimes, this doesn’t move for weeks at a time. Street cleaning regulations require cars to move two mornings of the week – if you don’t, you risk a fine. But if you think about it, $120 or so a week in tickets is damn cheap rent to pay for this type of location in NYC.

Camper 03

Finally, note that enormous antenna above the driver’s side door.

Camper 04

An FBI stake-out? A CIA covert operation? The mysterious Aristocrat (see the rear bumper) reveals no secrets.


PS – Yes, I know I could just go and look to see if they have a construction permit, or knock on the door or something. But in a way, I’d rather not know (in another way, I’d rather not approach a bizarre camper that looks like it drove out of a Rob Zombie movie).

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  1. Ok, that’s hysterical. I agree with you – the mystique of the RV is *way* more interesting than actually knowing what’s going on it it, or who owns it. Awesome.

  2. At least 7 years, I’d say

  3. Find out! Find out for us, your loyal readers!!

  4. There is a pet crate there in the third photo. So someone’s got an animal companion.

  5. I’m pretty sure a guy lives there full time. In the summer you can sometimes see him sitting in a beach chair in front of the van. And he has a dog.
    I’ve seen a similar van farther uptown on W 26th Street, a bit east of 9th Avenue. Maybe it’s an invasion.

  6. He has 3 dogs. Not quite sure what he’s doing all day long, but I see him every now and then walking his dogs.

  7. No construction permit. A guy actually lives in there with all of his worldly possessions and several pets. Nearly 10 years ago, in my neighborhood (MacDougal near Prince) he was also “permanently parked” for several years running. I wondered where he’d gone! He and his menagerie were featured on the Animal Planet show, “Animal Precinct”, several years ago. (“Animal Precinct” investigates charges of animal neglect and cruelty. He was cleared of any charges, and appeared to be a sympathetic character, whose wife in Staten Island had thrown him out of the house. He was revealed to be a caring and sensitive pet owner, despite the cramped quarters.)

  8. But it isn’t just a fine you risk if you neglect to move your car 2 mornings each week! Your car gets towed! So surely this van moves about the city a least 2times/week.

  9. For some reason I feel like this was in an episode of Animal Precinct years ago. Someone reported someone living in a camper with way too many animals. Might not be this person, but who knows…

  10. I’ve talked to this guy! — I live in the neighborhood and have done the street cleaning parking dance with him.

    It’s amazing that he’s been able to live like that for so many years. Talk about living in a van…down by the river. That’s his spot though, right there on Charlton.

  11. Damn Jenna,
    You beat me to posting it!


  12. Both of you guys beat me to it, I was just coming to post that same Gothamist link. 🙂

  13. Victory is mine!

  14. I know this camper!!! I had to walk past it when I too worked on a production of CSI-NY so I know the building you are talking about. BUT!!!! (drum roll please…) I have seen the person who live/lived in there!!!

    I worked on CSI in the summer like in June and I saw an older man living there with… get this…. 3 dogs!!!!! Might explain the dog carts, huh? I did not see him just once but at least twice if not more. So my dear someone does live in there at least they did in Jue of ’08. Yeah I don’t know what he does in the winter but in the summer that camper is occupied!!!

    Description of man: Older white male, in late 50’s or early 60’s, long thick white beard, a bit of a pot belly, dirty, wore a “trucker” cap when I saw him…

    Thought I would help out your investigation 😉

  15. i’ve seen this guy on animal planet..

    animal cops…he had alot dogs and cat he couldn’t take care of

  16. I think there was an article in the New York Times about this guy years and years ago. Bathroom details and all the rest.

  17. Here is a video about the guy that lives in that camper. Seems like a pretty cool guy.

  18. Back here in Colorado there are thousnads and thousands of such folks living high on the hog, LOL! Tell the dude th=o get some gas while its cheap and move out here cause its the way to go out here!

  19. Pure Awesumeness!

    The lead-up to the video was great. I have never been that entertained from comments! Did not expect it and my kind of content.

    Somebody is gonna give that dude a brand new mobohome from this, I just know it!

  20. you will easily get pot belly if you are eating too much carbohydrates ”

  21. Poor pets. If I had an extra wooden dog crate at home, I’d take them.

  22. Wow, superb weblog structure! How long have you been running a blog for? you made running a blog glance easy. The full look of your website is fantastic, let alone the content material!