Then & Now

Then & Now: Despite massive amounts of noise, I still love my rent-stabilized UES apartment

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When I moved into my apartment on 68th Street between Second and Third Avenues, I considered it to be one of the luckiest breaks of my life.

I have a one bedroom, just about 1,000 square feet, with a great layout.  And the luckiest part: every one of those square feet is rent stabilized.

I've lived here for almost 20 years and I still love my place but there have been some pretty big challenges lately to my little piece of  paradise. 

First, there’s the inevitable Second Avenue subway construction noise and traffic mess. But second, and even more disruptive for me, is the monster re-surfacing project going on at my building that generates huge amounts of noise every day of the week.  

Our building is one of the hundreds in the city built in the 1950s and 60s out of white glazed brick. Back then architects and builders thought that the glazing would be a perfect way to protect a building from water damage, that water would just run off the glaze. Not quite. 

It turns out that the glaze actually traps water behind the bricks and prevents it from evaporating. Oops. Our white brick building, like others like it in the city, is actually falling apart.

That means that workers have to remove the original brick with hand-held hammer drills and then resurface it all with something I've been told is a bit like stucco.  

I work at home, or at least try to, and here's what it's like on a typical day: At 8 am the sound of the mini-jackhammers start up on the building surface. It's deafening. 

The workers are going floor by floor and since this is a 600 unit building, word is that it's going to take three years for the job to be finished.

Just when the jackhammer sounds stop at 4 o'clock  is when the blasting for the “will-it-ever-be-finished?” Second Avenue subway starts. What does that sound like? First there's the warning sound — a bit like a 100 shofars blasting all at once — and then a huge BOOM. That can go on until 7 pm. 

Sometimes it is impossible for me to do my work during the day.  Talking on the phone ranges from difficult to next to impossible. 

But, one reason I love living here is our management company. This is a Rudin building and management staff  are doing everything they can to make our situation tolerable.  

For those of us who work at home, they have set up two rooms far from where the workers are drilling with desks, tables and chairs and outlets for computers.

Some of the Rudin family grew up in this building and they still treat it like it's their home.  

So, here I am with a great and affordable apartment in a well-managed, if crumbling, building. It's noisy and it will be noisy for quite a long time. But, this is where I wanted to be 20 years ago and it's where I want to stay.


Then & Now explores how time illuminates the pros and cons of an apartment--and how what draws people to a place isn't necessarily what keeps them there.  Have a story to share? Let us know--we'd love to hear!


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