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When Laura moved to an Astoria two bedroom with a roommate, she couldn’t believe her luck—at first. It’s affordable for her, in a great location, and has huge closets. But as with most things that seem too good to be true, it is. Her apartment looks out over the parking lot of Astoria World Manor—and it turns out that living next to an event space is anything but a celebration for Laura. Here’s her tale.
I'm originally from Central New Jersey, but I've been in New York City since 2008. A few years ago, I was living in an apartment in Astoria near Broadway and Crescent and needed to move. My friend was looking for a share that was more affordable. We joined forces, but our apartment search was daunting. We saw quite a few duds. So, when we finally saw a two-bedroom apartment on Astoria Boulevard with a great layout, and best of all, huge closets, we jumped on it.
The biggest bedroom (mine) is in the back of the building and faces the parking lot for the Astoria World Manor, an event space that looks like a place time forgot. I suspect looks the same as it did when it was built in the 1950s. When we took a tour with our real agent, he said, "Look, it's a parking lot! It'll be quiet!" Yes, I thought, parking lots are quiet. Little did I know...
[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Living Next to” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to have an iconic or unusual New York City neighbor. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]
It's hard to say the exact moment I realized my neighbor would be an issue, since I've been living there since 2012. But I quickly learned that folks leaving weddings, quinceañeras, and other parties fueled by alcohol are not quiet. I've listened to arguments, cries of joy, endless honking—I still have no idea why people need to honk at each other in a parking lot—and celebratory chanting.
Sometimes the staff will hang out in the parking lot afterward, blasting music and yelling. I'm not sure what it is about that particular parking lot that makes people forget that they are surrounded by residential buildings.
The worst noise, though, is the catering hall’s snowplow. For some reason it comes out at 2 or 3 a.m. when it snows and the grinding sound on the pavement is excruciating. I've left phone messages documenting the sounds, begging to have the plow wait until at least 6 a.m. I’ve even tried calling 311, to no avail.
In addition to all that noise, the place just seems to attract drama. One of the strangest things I've witnessed actually has nothing to do with the parking lot. My friend texted me asking if I was ok because she said a car had crashed into the World Manor! I ran downstairs to see and it was really a sight. I assume the car was trying to make a U-turn that turned into a K-turn and forgot to put the car in reverse.
In general, I don't mind the noise that much, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s the parties on Sundays and weekdays that stretch until 2 a.m. that really get my goat. I listen to podcasts or meditation apps to help me fall asleep in general. Once asleep, I can usually get used to or block out noise, as long as it doesn’t last that long. However, the snowplow will usually wake me out of a sound sleep and keep me awake until the workers are done plowing. (Fortunately, we haven’t really seen snow this winter.) While I haven’t missed work because of the late-night noise, I have gone to work exhausted many times.
My roommate isn’t affected as much as me because his bedroom windows face the front of the building, which is generally quiet. I have never complained to my own building management because I didn’t think they’d have any pull with the event space and haven’t had a discussion about it with neighbors; I’m unsure who else has a bedroom that faces the lot. I have not called 911, however, a neighbor has; it just recently popped up on my Facebook memories that I was thankful one of them called the cops one night when the workers were out late partying.
I try looking on the bright side: At least they don't have events every day and it doesn’t snow that often! The only upside is that a lot of television shows use the Manor and its parking lot for filming, so I've been able to spy on cast members from “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” over the years.
I don’t have plans on moving out any time soon because the price and location really can’t be beat in Astoria—I actually just renewed by lease. My neighbors are great and there’s even a bodega with a friendly owner downstairs. On the other side of the street is a storefront that has changed many times over the years – most recently it was a massage parlor and now has a psychic! I also live two doors down from the wonderful BZ Grill. My feeling is that Astoria Boulevard is a weird street with a lot of personality—and World Manor is just the most-lively.
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