14. Greenwich Village was Home to the Smallest Plot of Land in NYC

On the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue is a triangular mosaic tile that reads,”Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.” Measuring in at 500 square inches, the Hess Triangle was the smallest plot of land in New York City. The land belonged to David Hess, a Philadelphia landlord who owned a five-story apartment building called the Voorhis. Hess building. In the expansion of the IRT subway line and the extension of 7th Avenue, the Hess Building was one of 300 demolished through 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 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.

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2 Responses
  1. Kiwiwrwriter Reply

    I remember the Women’s House of Detention, from growing up in the Village…the women inside would yell down to their pals on the street, often in colorful metaphors, which shocked parents with little kids.

    The townhouse that blew up in 1971 was on the next block down from my grade school, PS 41. On the day that happened, we were sitting in second grade, doing a lesson, when we heard a “boom” that shook the building. Smoke came slowly down 11th Street, darkening it, and soon we heard zillions of sirens racing to the scene of the crime. When my mother picked me up, the whole area was cordoned off by cops.

    A few days later, a police detective came into our class, dressed in a trenchcoat, wearing a Gene Hackman porkpie hat, which he removed, to ask us if we had seen a naked woman running down 11th Street after the blast. She was sought in connection with the incident. Us being wise-ass second-graders growing up in the Village, we had a lot of answers. Mrs. Blume was shocked by our response.

    The detective thanked us for our time and stumped out of the class, muttering about “freaking smart-ass kids.”

    The good old days.

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