This tiny triangular plot at the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue in Greenwich Village represents one man’s final protest against eminent domain. It’s now 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.
The Wyckoff Farmhouse is located at 5816 Clarendon Road, in Canarsie, and its oldest section dates from circa 1652. Pieter Claesen Wyckoff arrived in New Netherlands in 1637 as an indentured servant to the van Rensselaer family. He went on to become a successful farmer and magistrate. Over the centuries, additions were made to the house and its land was sold away. On December 24, 1967, it became the first building designated as a New York City landmark. Today, the house is open to the public and is operated under the auspices of the Historic House Trust.
Read more from a roundup of the oldest buildings in each of the 5 boroughs of NYC