I have lived in my 350 sq. ft. walk-up studio in the East Village since 1990. The rent is an affordable $937 month.
What I loved about it when i first saw it was that it felt right as soon as I walked in. It was only the third apartment I looked at in the East Village, but the outside doors were secure, the mailboxes were intact and shiny, and most of all the apartment was clean and had no funky bathroom or tub in the kitchen like so many other affordable units.
What I disliked most was that I was afraid of living alone in such a dangerous neighborhood. The area was fairly seedy and inhabited by drug dealers. But the apartment itself was perfect for a person who had always had roommates and didn't have a lot of stuff, and it was great to be able to afford a place on my own.
Over the years, I have added furniture so the apartment is now cozier and I make sure to keep clutter at bay. I wish I had the money to make it feel more homey and decorate it better. If I could change a few things, I would paint the kitchen cabinets white to brighten the room up, but my landlord won't allow it. I wish I also had an extra room for privacy when guests stay.
These days, I really value the convenience to my work and transportation, and the ever-emerging fantastic cocktail bars. But the neighborhood has really changed. Now with all the foot traffic day and night, I wish for those quiet days when bridge and tunnel crowds and tourists stayed away; it was much more peaceful.
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.