west chelsea 1992-1996

This is where I lived in NYC between 1992 and 1996. Here‘s another view. Swanky, huh? We had doormen, in-house washers and dryers, a swimming pool (which I never did get around to using), a garden and a great rooftop view. Susan Sontag was my upstairs neighbor, for crying out loud.

I totally lucked into living there: a friend had found an impossibly cheap sublet in the complex, and her roommate was just moving out. I never paid more than $750 a month for my share of the rent – and for the last year of my residence, my roommate spent most of her time in Atlanta and stayed in our apartment just a few days each month. This means I virtually had my own place in Manhattan for a whole year. Nowadays a. London Terrace apartment rents for almost $4,000 a month.

Occasionally out-of-town friends would stay over. Only once did I ever put up a band – an experience that was such a disaster that I never did it again. (The Mad Planets stored their gear there, however, when we all went to the Indie-Rock Flea Market in DC one summer.)

I knew how lucky I was at the time, and that I’d never find such a deal in the NYC area again. After spending so many years driving and taking the PATH into the city, it was so incredible to stay out late and just walk home afterward, all the way appreciating the comforting calmness of the West Side above 14th Street. West Chelsea was still relatively uncharted in 1992. There was still a bit of urban grittiness once you crossed 10th Avenue or went even one or two blocks north. There was no Chelsea Piers or Chelsea Market. The neighborhood was not yet an art mecca when I moved there, nor had the gay population really started migrating to the 20s. Almost anytime I wanted to see shows, go to bars, eat out, shop or meet friends, I inevitably had to leave the neighborhood and trek south. I became quite familiar with the C/E subway line and the M23 crosstown bus. By the time I left Chelsea had developed its own cachet, but it still felt off the beaten path. I grew to appreciate London Terrace’s relative solitude and peacefulness.

I’m looking forward to stopping by when I’m in town. Maybe I can even convince the doorman to let me up on the roof for old times’ sake.

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