The tiniest plot of private property in New York

Or at least until the 1930s, anyway. At the corner of Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue South in the West Village, in front of the iconic Village Cigars store, lies this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mosaic embedded in the sidewalk.

HessestateplaqueIts tough-talking message: “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated For Public Purposes.”

What’s the backstory? In the 1910s, when the city was expanding the IRT subway line, officials tore down a nearby apartment building owned by the estate of a New Yorker named David Hess.

A small triangle of land was left over, and officials wanted the Hess family to donate it so the city could extend the sidewalk.

Nothing doing. The Hess Estate fought it out in court, won the right to preserve their little plot, and embedded the tile plaque as kind of a victory symbol. In 1938, however, they sold it to the Village Cigar owners.

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11 Responses to “The tiniest plot of private property in New York”

  1. Telling the M.T.A. Not to Hold … Its Breath - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com Says:

    […] it the plaque of stubbornness? The remains of the Hess Estate. [Ephemeral New […]

  2. Greg Says:

    Why would the Village Cigar owners buy this?

  3. Dogg Gone Says:

    Even though the plot is tiny there is a cost and liability to maintain it such as taxes and so fourth. It was probably more economically feasible for the Cigar store to maintain it than the family.

  4. Greg Says:

    That still doesn’t explain why the Cigar store would want it, when it is a liability with no benefits.

  5. Jeff Says:

    It’s smack in front of the cigar store…if THEY didn’t buy it, do you think they want someone else owning a small triangle of land immediately in front of the entrance to their cigar store? Of course not! Village Cigars bought it for $1,000 in 1938, a big chunk of change for the time. Incorporated into the rest of the building, the tax consequences would have been neglible if not zero.

  6. Greg Says:

    I don’t see why it would matter if someone else owned it, because it’s not buildable. You could never get a building permit to do anything with it. You can’t even build a fence around it. So you can’t keep the public off of it. It’s useless.

  7. jake0117 Says:

    Buying it only extented liability for the new owner!

  8. Property of the Hess Estate | Real Estate Buy Today Says:

    […] Wonderfully defiant! From Ephemeral New York: […]

  9. Adrianne Says:

    I wonder if George Parker had something to do with the selling of this little gem

  10. Delhi Pasar Properti Says:

    […] dari Hess Estate Image by jasoneppink Indah menantang! Dari Ephemeral New York :”Pada 1910-an, ketika kota itu memperluas jalur kereta bawah tanah IRT, pejabat merobohkan […]

  11. Property of the Hess Estate | Som2ny Post Says:

    […] Property of the Hess Estate Image by jasoneppink Wonderfully defiant! From Ephemeral New York: […]

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