New York’s skinny little holdout buildings

Meet the holdout buildings—small, slender structures owned by residents who refused to sell to a developer.

As a result, developers simply constructed taller, wider building around them, making these little homes look like dollhouses.

These in-between buildings are leftover remnants of an older New York, one not dominated by skyscrapers and towering loft buildings.

Often neglected and not in the best shape, they’re treasures hiding in plain site all over the city.

This Chelsea home, above, with the lovely shutters, is surrounded by two postwar apartment buildings. I wonder what it’s like to live there.

I have no idea when this drab little house went up on the Bowery. It looks like a placeholder between its two neighbors.

This itty bitty building on Lexington Avenue in the 50s sits between two giant office structures, and it looks like it predates both.

I imagine it was once part of a row of functional, not particularly distinctive brownstones, before this stretch of Midtown turned corporate.

Below is another teeny garage, probably a former stable, in Chelsea.

The ceiling is sinking in, and it looks long-neglected. But it’s hanging on, still part of the streetscape.

You can’t help but root for them, right? Check out more holdout buildings here.

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9 Responses to “New York’s skinny little holdout buildings”

  1. jodi sh. doff (@jshdoff) Says:

    without the little bitty’s in-between, the giants on either side couldn’t have windows on the sides.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    That’s true . . . but I’d think the developers would prefer to have the extra square footage to squeeze out more profits!

  3. BabyDave Says:

    Check out the Southwest corner of 23rd Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan. It’s the little pawn shop that wouldn’t sell.

  4. Lady G. Says:

    This is silly, but if you watch the movie ‘Runaway Ralph’ with Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie they live in one of these teeny buildings. It was so cute. Of course it looked more whimsical. Great posts. I love the Gothic inspired townhouse in the other link!

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Of course, Stuart Little! Makes sense they’d live in a smushed-in house.

  6. chas Says:

    Bluebell Cafe (east of 3rd Ave on 23rd St ) sits under an old 3 story that looks to be there longer than surrounding buildings as well…

  7. metroatlantic Says:

    In some of these instances, like the second and fourth picture, the adjoining buildings look old as is, probably built before 1920. It makes me wonder how old these skinny, little buildings must be then.

  8. Ryan Says:

    Probably one of my favorites, and I assume it is a holdout, is the tiny little building on 42nd st in btw 3rd and 2nd that is carved out of the Helmsley Hotel and an adjacent office tower. The fact that the newer buildings acutually wrap around it make it look like a more impressive holdout.

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