This week, the famous holdout bungalow in Seattle, likened to the home in the film Up, returned to the news, with The New York Times reporting that the 600 square foot house, now surrounded by commercial buildings, was in default. Holdout houses are nothing new, but they form an emphatic visual reminder of this age-old development battle. Here, we’ve rounded up five of what we believe are some of the most impressive holdouts around the world.

5. The Million Dollar Corner: Macy’s Shopping Bag at 34th Street

1908. Photo from Library of Congress.

The 5-story corner property at 34th Street and Broadway is now mostly hidden behind an oversized Macy’s bag, but it was once known as the “Million Dollar Corner.” In 1911, it was the highest ever paid for a plot of land. At just 1,200 square feet, the irregular plot of land came out to $868 per square foot.

It’s an architectural holdout that forced Macy’s to build around rather than over it. But it wasn’t so much that the building owner refused to move, as he was holding the corner unit hostage hoping to force Macy’s to give up its earlier location on 6th Avenue and 14th Street. Macy’s called the bluff, so the owner demolished the building and replaced it with a 5-story building on which Macy’s started advertising on in 1945. Even today, it’s still owned by a separate entity from Macy’s, the Rockaway Company.

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One thought on “5 Architectural Holdout Houses Around the World That Stood in the Way of Development

  1. I’ll give you one more, but the owner sold out at the last minute.
    When the London Guarantee Insurance Company built its headquarters at the corner of Pine St [now Michigan Ave.] & Wacker Drive in Chicago, one woman owned a single family house just south of the southwest corner. Originally, the entire street was single family homes.
    She refused to sell to the insurance company, so they built the building with a notch around her house.
    Finally she agreed to sell while it was under construction, so they extended the the first five floors where the house was, but then the notch continues up to the 22nd floor at the top.

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