In the early 1910s, Manhattan city planners launched a project to expand Seventh Avenue and build a new subway line that ran through the West Village. This involved tearing down more than 250 edifices in the area, including a five-story apartment building known as the Voorhis.
It was owned by a landlord named David Hess, who tried and failed to keep his property from falling victim to the city’s eminent domain claim. The Voorhis was demolished around 1913, and the plot became part of the road above the underground railway—all except for about 500 square inches.
That tiny triangle escaped unscathed, and Hess’s family fought hard to hang onto it (Hess himself had passed away). This time, they won. In 1922, the Hess estate carried out an act that would become one of the most memorable moments in the history of spite. They tiled the triangle with a message that read: “Property of the Hess estate which has never been dedicated for public purpose.”
The same year, Village Cigars set up shop in the retail space at 110 Seventh Avenue South, sandwiched between two entrances to the Christopher Street subway station. The so-called “spite triangle” sat directly outside Village Cigars’s door, and the Hess estate ended up selling it to the property owners for $1000 in 1938.
Soon, it’ll be sold again. Village Cigars’s current landlord, Jonathan Posner, is looking to sell the building to focus on his other properties in the area. As Posner told Real Estate Weekly, “this building should be in the hands of a user and/or someone who can re-love it and perhaps is enamored with the idea of owning one of the most famous corners in Manhattan.”
Though Posner is still early in the process of finding a buyer, Real Estate Weekly estimates the listing price will be around $5.5 million. We’re hoping the new owner will appreciate history (and pettiness) enough to leave Hess’s legendary triangle as is.
[h/t Real Estate Weekly]