Skydell's enthusiasm was indeed mysterious. The sixteen-story building he wanted to buy, on Avenue B facing Tompkins Square Park, was surrounded by burned-out buildings that crawled with pushers and junkies. It was boarded up, ripped out, and flooded...Early in the seventies, the city had put up the Christodora up for auction and nobody bid.
The building was eventually sold in 1975 for $62,500. (Last I saw, two-bedroom units there -- roughly 1,100 square feet -- average $1.6 million or so. Of course, they're rarely available.)
The article talks about the influx of chain stores, art galleries and chic cafes. "And real-estate values are exploding" as a result. Said one longtime resident on the changes: "I've lived in my rent-controlled apartment for years and pay $115 a month. I live on the Lower East Side. The young kids who just moved in upstairs and pay $700 a month for the same space -- they live in the East Village."
There are so many interesting passages in the article by Craig Unger that I'd end up excerpting the whole thing. So it's below. You can click on each image to read it. Meanwhile, what do you think would be the headline for this story today?