Rental pick of the week

Live incognito in an East Village building once home to famously convicted Soviet spies

By Jennifer White Karp  |
May 1, 2018 - 12:00PM

It may not be the exact apartment, but it's still a piece of history, not to mention in the heart of the East Village.

Bond New York

There’s nothing to mark this building as historically significant, but 103 Avenue A, where this week’s rental pick is located, is part of a dark chapter of our country’s history.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, U.S. citizens convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and executed during the height of Cold War tensions, lived here in the 1940s. After decades of debate about the case, there's a consensus that Julius was in fact a spy, but Ethel's culpability is still debated, and evidence of prosecutorial misconduct has emerged.

Even back when the Rosenbergs lived in the building, it was a plain sort of space. According to Ethel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths, their apartment "had no color, no pictures on the wall, nothing to personalize the surroundings, except for mess and clutter.”

Apartment #3D is also no-frills. A two bedroom, the apartment is listed for $3,450 a month, with no broker's fee. The rent is below what Rent Jungle says is the $3,807 average for the neighborhood, which may have something to do with its views of a brick wall. But the place has a few things going for it, including a recent renovation, high ceilings, and hardwood floors. 


The apartment looks well-lit and bright in photos.


The galley kitchen is narrow, but has a neat built-in cabinet.


One of the bedrooms has curtained double doors.


And two closets.


The other looks a bit tight, but it also has a small closet.


You might have to towel off sideways in the bathroom, but it looks serviceable.

The building has an elevator and allows cats, but not dogs. It is a block from Tompkins Square Park, four blocks from the Russian and Turkish baths and close to a huge number of bars and restaurants. The F and M trains are seven blocks away on Second Avenue.




Jennifer White Karp

Managing Editor

Jennifer steers Brick Underground’s editorial coverage of New York City residential real estate and writes articles on market trends and strategies for buyers, sellers, and renters. Jennifer’s 15-year career in New York City real estate journalism includes stints as a writer and editor at The Real Deal and its spinoff publication, Luxury Listings NYC.

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