Lovely eminent domain. It’s been practiced on land large (Manhattanville for Columbia University, for example) and small. This tiny triangular plot at the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue in Greenwich Village represents one man’s final protest against the system. It’s even marked by a mosaic in front of Village Cigars which reads “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.” In total, the land in question measures 500 square inches.
As the city was expanding the IRT subway line and extending 7th Avenue, it took more than 300 properties by eminent domain. For some reason, this little triangular plot belonging to David Hess remained in his possession, left over from the plot his apartment building, The Voorhis, once sat. The city asked him to “donate” the plot of the land for the sidewalk but he refused, taking the issue to court. It remained the smallest piece of private property until 1938, when the David Hess estate sold it to Village Cigars for $1,000.