Thursday, June 28, 2018

I Am a Rent-Stabilized Tenant

East Village resident Susan Schiffman documents the apartments of rent-stabilized tenants living in the East Village for her Instagram account, I Am a Rent Stabilized Tenant. She will share some of the photos here for this ongoing EVG feature.

Photos and text by Susan Schiffman

Tenant: Judy, since 1978

Why did you move to the East Village?

To be near to my dad. I was finishing college and I needed a place to live in 1978. My dad lived on Fifth Street and First Avenue. I wanted to live near to him. This was the first apartment that I ever looked at. We came into this apartment. I walked to the front and I walked to the back. It was May and the trees were in bloom out back. It was like a country apartment. There were things still left in the apartment. It was $150.

I got the apartment cleaned up. I wanted two things before I moved in. I wanted a dog and I wanted a telephone. The telephone was put in and I was supposed to move in the next day. I walked down the block. I was leaving to go to where I was staying and there was somebody at Theater 80 who said “does anybody want this dog?” And there was Johnny. I brought him back into the house and left planning to move in the next day.

My father was a parole officer at the time. He came in to look at the apartment. He said “oh my g-d? What is this dog?” He pulled out his gun. He almost shot the dog. He was not a very big animal lover. My father got his wits back about him.

How did you find your apartment?

We went to a broker. He was over on Sixth Street. They were Ukrainian brokers. The owner of this building was a Ukrainian man. He just passed away at 95 years old or so, this past September. He had the same birthday as I do. He has three daughters who took over ownership of the building.

What do you love about your apartment?

One of the things I love about my apartment is the cross ventilation, especially at this time of year. For many years I didn't have an air conditioning. The comfort of this apartment and the elegance and the old fashioned-ness and modern-ness at the same time. And the amount of ease that it allows me to work with it. I can have as many things as I need to have in it. It offers me enough space.

I really love the moldings and the fact that the bathroom is now in the apartment. The bathroom actually doesn’t belong to the apartment. The molding that is around the bathroom gives a very strong suggestion that the bathroom initially was accessed from the hallway and at a later time a doorway was opened up into the apartment so that it could be used in the apartment. Which changes a lot about the apartment.

My neighbor next door needs to use her bathroom outside her apartment and she lives differently than I do, it creates a different kind of set up. I like the fact that I have a built-in hutch. I would have liked to have a closet — that was taken out.

[The apartment] has served me well. In the 20 apartments, there are about five tenants who have been here as long as I have. A number have been here a fair amount of time like 10 or 15 years. The building just next door to the west has people turning over all the time. It gives a very different character to the building. Ours is very neighborhoody.

If you're interested in inviting Susan in to photograph your apartment for an upcoming post, then you may contact her via this email.


Anonymous said...

wow this apartment is beautiful! i love her story too! thanks for another great installment!

Anonymous said...

How beautiful to live with simplicity and soul.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful home!

Scuba Diva said...

The bathroom-in-the-hallway setup she describes sounds like this building is a pre-law (pre-1860) tenement. Actually, the place I lived in on St. Mark's was an old law tenement, with four apartments per floor; two apartments had bathtubs, but I had a shower stall in the kitchen, suggesting that the bathtubs might have originally been shared.

I had a water closet—as I do in this apartment—and when I first moved here there was still a pull-chain toilet. My place on St. Mark's was an old-law tenement, and the toilets were probably originally accessed from the outside hall; there were clearly some modifications done to my apartment that weren't visible on later, smoother Shitrock® renovations of neighboring apartments. There was also a painted-over mezzuzah mounted on the door jamb.

If you go to the Tenement Museum on Orchard street, you can learn that that building, built in the 1860s, originally had "school sinks" in the outdoors courtyard—a.k.a. outhouses—as it was built previous to the housing law that would require indoor plumbing. This is why so many tenements on Orchard Street were boarded up and even bricked up because they were against code—until it became lucrative to renovate them.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Susan! for your rich photographic skills documenting my home & for being a friend in our neighborly community for many years. The next to last last picture gives me a whole new view of this old house, Thanks again!
May the health, creativity & East Village love continue! Judy

MTS said...

This place looks almost identical to the one-bedroom stabilized apartment I lived in on E 11th St btwn A and B from '78 to '96. Tub in the kitchen. Same lay-out. Same big sink. I even had a pull-chain toilet in a cubicle out in the hall that I had to keep padlocked so the druggies didn't use it. Kind of a drag when I had to pee in the middle of the night, but I was young and willing to deal with the inconvenience. Fond memories and wild fun times despite the junkies, crackheads, hold-ups, muggings, break-ins, riots, and marauding skinheads. ha...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful apartment! It has great warmth & personality!

I have a friend who has tub-in-kitchen (next to sink, as shown here), and with the toilet in a separate room at the other end of the apartment. The toilet HAD a pull-chain for a long time, but now has been "upgraded" to a tank toilet.

iamarentstabilizedtenant said...

Dear Scuba Diva, thank you for this info! Susan

iamarentstabilizedtenant said...

Dear Judy, thank you. thank you for sharing your story with me! I have good memories of seeing you with your dog Johnny in the neighborhood. Susan

Anonymous said...

Lovely apartment. Interesting back story.