Posts Tagged ‘David Hess estate’

The tiniest plot of private property in New York

September 11, 2009

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.