Awesomest Defender of Private Property I Had Never Heard Of

From Scouting New York

001

Set into the sidewalk is a small triangle (see my sneaker for size comparison), with the mysterious message: "Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated For Public Purposes."

002

In 1910, the area around Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue was being widened by the city. Over 300 buildings were condemned and razed under Eminent Domain laws, including a 5-story apartment building called The Voorhis belonging to David Hess.

Hess fought the city fiercely to save his building but lost, and by 1914, this small triangle was all that was left of his property. Thinking he'd been suitably beaten down, the city asked Hess to voluntarily donate the minuscule triangle for use as part of the public sidewalk "“ but Hess refused, and had this mosaic installed on July 27, 1922. Though it inevitably became part of the sidewalk anyway, anyone who walked over the triangle couldn't help but be reminded of Hess' battle.

I would like to buy it from the Hess family and erect a triangular pedestal with a suitable statue on top, perhaps Atlas with the globe bouncing away, giving a one finger salute to the city.

  • Frederick Davies

    "I would like to buy it from the Hess family and erect a triangular pedestal with a suitable statue on top, perhaps Atlas with the globe bouncing away, giving a one finger salute to the city."

    If you open a public subscription/donation drive to do this, you can count on $100 from me.

  • http://bluntobject.wordpress.com/ bluntobject

    I've got a twenty -- or perhaps more, depending on my fortunes next year -- for your Digitus Impudicus statue.

    Wait. Incentives. Let me put it this way: if your statue is to be erected in 2010 or 2011, I'll contribute $100USD. 2012, I'm in for $80. Each further year of delay, I'm out another $20, hitting bottom in 2015 or later when I'll cheerfully drop $20.

  • Jim Collins

    Anybody want to bet that the City still collects property tax on that triangle? I like the idea of buying it, but I have to wonder how much red tape you will have to go through to get a permit to build your monument?

  • John

    Put me down for same as blunt object on the donation.

    In response to Jim Collins:

    You are so right, but the ongoing circus would rather emphasize the point wouldn't it?

  • Tim

    It looks like it is just big enough to stand in. As private property, it seems like a better use would be to stand on it, enjoying one of the wares from the shop next door; and eating a giant chunk of salt-crusted transfat. A living "F You" to the nanny state.

    You can't do that if there's a statute there.

  • Charlie

    Ah, fine story. Thanks!

  • rox_publius

    will match bluntobject's donation as stated.

  • zorkmid

    You just know some doofus in birkenstock sandals is gonna scuff at the mosaic with his toe, scratch said toe on a chipped tile, then sue the Hess estate for negligence and keeping an attractive nuisance.

  • http://monkeywatch.blogspot.com/ Ed Flinn

    Most web mentions of the Hess triangle claim that the Hess estate sold it in 1938 to Village Cigars, for $1000.

  • John Anderson

    While Coyote's proposition warms the cockles of my heart, I'd be willing to bet that any proposed addition/erection to/on the property would be disallowed due to "setback" laws.

  • Peter

    I don't believe setback laws apply to furniture and probably not art either. Just because you set your furniture or art there on a post 6 feet into the ground shouldn't matter. :)

  • Ben S

    It would have to be a very thin statue. -.-

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