Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

In a city as big as New York, it’s easy to miss a lot of the little things. In her new book, TINY New York, Bronx native Suzi Siegel highlights some of the tiniest places and things in the Big Apple, from the smallest Yankee to the most miniature museum. Siegel notes that within these tiny places is where you find the real story of the city and in her book, she lets those stories be told by the New Yorkers who own and work inside of them. Siegel’s little book is packed with tiny treasures. Here is a list of 10 of our favorites:

1. Smallest Neighborhood: Ramblersville

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

Measuring just a half square mile, Ramblersville in southwestern Queens is New York City’s smallest neighborhood. The town was a nineteenth century fishing village of fishermen’s shacks that eventually became a summer getaway spot, at one point gaining the nickname “Little Venice.” According to Catherine M. Doxsey, a long time resident who tells her story in Siegel’s book, the name Ramblersville comes from the fact that houses in the neighborhood all face different directions. Doxsey bought a house in the neighborhood in 1954 and has lived there ever since. Despite the negative view some outsiders have of the town and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, Doxsey has no plans to leave the resilient town that she has been so fond of over the past years.

2. Smallest Privately Owned Island: Rat Island

Rat Island is not only the smallest, but the only privately owned island in New York City. Sitting in City Island Harbor in the Bronx, at high tide this tiny piece of land is one acre large. At low tide the island gains another acre and a half. Today the island is owned by Alex Schibli, a native of Switzerland who fell in love with New York City and its waters in the 1960s. It is rumored to have gotten its name from the belief that convicts escaping a nearby prison would use the island as a resting stop on their swim towards freedom. No one lives on the island and there are no structures, but there is a statue of William Tell. Tying his roots to his New York island, Schibli commissioned the statue of the fourteenth century Swiss liberation fighter from a Swiss artist. Though Schibli’s family and friends said he was crazy for buying the island, but he doesn’t think it’s any crazier than buying a boat, and says “lots of people have boats, but I have an island.”

3. Smallest Library: Cathedral Library

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

Off the E, M, and 6 lines at the 51st street subway station you will find an underground branch of the New York Public Library. The Cathedral Library measures 2,130 square feet. Library manager Susan Aufrichtig says that even though the space is “tiny and underground, we’re offering the world to people here.” Even though the site is small, Cathedral Library offers everything its larger counterparts do including a book discussion groups. Participants just need to make sure they finish on time, so they don’t get locked in when the subway station closes for the weekend.

4. Smallest Library Book: The Sun by Harry Crosby

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

Among the many amazing works that comprise the New York Public Library’s Rare Books collection you will find about 2,000 miniature books, the smallest among them measuring a mere one inch by three quarters of an inch. The Sun, by Harry Crosby,is so small you need a magnifying glass to read it. The book is one of only one hundred copies that were printed in 1929. The library’s Curator of Rare books Michael Inman explains that miniature books were printed then, as they are now, as novelty items.

5. Smallest Strip Club: Pumps Exotic Dancing

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

Owner Andy Sig opened the 1,200-square-foot Pumps Bar in 1997. The space is so small that the stage is behind the bar, but that winds up working well for business. Sig had to fight for his club during Mayor Giulianni’s push get rid off adult entertainment establishments in the city, most notably in Times Square. Over the decades Pumps has persevered amongst the changing times, clientele, and dancers. “We wear our hearts on our sleeve, and we’re very open people,” Sig says about himself and his wife who bartends at the club every weekend. According Sig, he and his wife, who used to be a dancer at the club, are one of the many couples who have fallen in love there.

Discover the rest of the smallest places in the city in TINY New York!

6. Smallest Record Shop: House of Oldies

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

The same “No CDs, no tapes, just records” sign that Bob Abramson put in the front window of his store twenty years ago is still there today. Abramson takes pride in customers coming into his 245-square-foot store and saying it looks just like a record store from the 60s, because that is exactly what it is. In the late 1960s Abramson bought the store from the original owner and hasn’t made any changes to it, except to beef up and improve the quality of the stock. The small West Village space holds nearly one hundred thousand records.

7. Smallest Dry Cleaner: First Professional Dry Cleaners

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

At 230 square feet, Carlos Vasquez’s First Professional Cleaners in the Upper East Side earns the title of New York City’s smallest dry cleaners. Vasquez, who grew up in Alphabet City, has been in the business since he graduated high school. For Vasquez, it’s quality over quantity, or size. Rather than opening more stores or a bigger location, he focuses on working with his family to provide the best service to the community with the space they have. In 2001 after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Vasquez offered free dry cleaning for work interview outfits, and has kept the policy ever since.

8. Smallest Locksmith: Greenwich Locksmiths

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

This Greenwich Village locksmith, measuring only 125 square feet, is the smallest free standing building in New York City. Owner Philip Mortillaro makes metal sculptures and covered his store with 10,000 keys to “bring some art and individuality back to the village.” Mortillaro was born and bred in New York City and has been in the locksmith trade since he was fourteen. He bought his shop for $20,000 cash nearly fifty years ago and was recently offered $2 million for the building by Chase so they could build an ATM. Mortillaro says he has no plans to sell.

9. Smallest Dinosaur Fossil: Hypacrosaurus Altispinus

Photograph from American Museum of Natural History courtesy of Suzi Siegel

Housed at the American Museum of Natural History, this tiny dinosaur is only twenty inches long, three inches wide and eight inches tall. This tiny dino was only a year old and would have grown up to twenty five feet long. Dr. Mark Norell, the curator and division chair of paleontology at the museum, notes that “finding young dinosaur bones used to be extremely rare” and are more difficult to preserve because their bones are very delicate. However, more have been found recently in North and Central America.

10. Smallest Subway Stop Distance: Q Train

Photograph Courtesy of Suzi Siegel

The two closest subway stations in New York City, Cortelyou and Beverly Road, are just one block apart in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Runner Adam Devine saw this short distance as the perfect opportunity to create a challenge. He decided to see if he could depart the subway at Cortelyou and run to Beverly Road in time to get back on. He ran the distance in 81 seconds, but the subway train made it in 67.

To see the rest of Siegel’s tiny finds, order your copy of TINY New York!

Next, check out 7 of NYC’s Smallest Restaurants and The 10 Smallest Parks in Manhattan

2 thoughts on “10 of the Smallest Things in NYC, from the New Book TINY New York

  1. Absolutely fascinating,I have been receiving your interesting emails for over a year and pass them on to friends that also enjoy tm.Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving All

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