I’d read about this piece of land, decided I would never make a special trip to see it and never did. Then, I was in the Village retracing routes I walked while a student at NYU, along 8th Street which in the 70s buzzed like a beehive — people everywhere, just everywhere. The old Waverley Theater (named in Hair—remember Frank Mills?) was abuzz, the street was chock-a-block with record stores, shoe stores, Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Recording Studios was a going concern and over at Sheridan Square where the Stonewall Riot had occurred things were no different.
Well, that’s where I found myself and I remembered to look for that small triangle-shaped piece of property.
Don’t make a special trip but if you are in the neighbourhood, maybe at Stonewall, which is just across the street, or the AIDS memorial, it’s worth a peek just so you can say you’ve seen it. Here’s the story:
In the early 20th century, a swath was cut across the Village to extend the IRT subway farther downtown. Under eminent domain, the city condemned and demolished 300 properties, including a five-story building, The Voorhis Apartment, owned by Mr. Hess.
Mr Hess was left owning only this small triangle of land. He defied municipal bullying and in court asserted his rights by retaining ownership of the approximately 500 square inches of unusable land. He made the most of it: on July 27, 1922, workers used black and yellow tile to create the mosaic in place today.