Late 1970s/early 80s Madonna: The smells of NYC, raped on a rooftop, and inspired by Frida Kahlo
“The tall buildings and the massive scale of New York took my breath away. I felt alive. But I was also freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit everywhere, especially in the entryway of my third-floor walk-up.”
Early 1970s Debbie Harry: Playboy bunnies, serial killers, and being spit upon
A girl’s worst nightmare? “It was the early Seventies, maybe ’72. I was trying to get across town to a party. It was two or three o’clock in the morning and I was staggering around on huge platform shoes….”
All the FANYC Stories
Yukie Ohta, a 46-year-old New York–based archivist, is an old-school fan of SoHo, having grown up there in the 1970s. Now she has a created a mobile mini-museum to preserve her memories of the early days of Soho.
Have you noticed that NYC is changing—and you’re not sure it’s for the better? If so, read about the #SaveNYC grassroots, crowd-sourced, DIY movement to protect and preserve the diversity and uniqueness of the urban fabric in New York City.
This poem describes my first apartment on Union Square. I always had to live near a vacant lot or ruined building. Couldn’t stand that finished feeling. Rent? A prayer I prayed each month.
My super told me that she found what remained of the electric oven/toaster in the courtyard but the tenant refused to admit he had thrown it out the window. All I could think was how awful it would be to go out with friends and come back three to four hours later and your life is upside down. To this day I will not buy a toaster oven…
This may be cheating a bit, since these stories were not submitted to this site but rather to The New York Times 4 years ago, but here some doozies of first (and worst) apartment stories. To be enjoyed with a side dollop of schadenfreude. Tell Us About Your Worst New...
With a sense of dread I followed Jo and Randy up the block to a beat-up old car parked beside stinking garbage bags. I prayed we weren’t being taken to some dire fate—murder, or slavery. But no. We drove eight blocks south and…
Early 1980s in The Village: From sleeping in a closet to having a walk-in closet—at a stupidly cheap rent
Getting a roommate was a practical decision for my landlord—why not make some money out of the unused space? It was a perfect solution for me, too. I was new to NY and had no social life, so living with an elderly woman didn’t cramp my style.
The apartment was so rundown that the floorboards had spread apart and you could clearly see into the apartment below through the wide cracks. They could literally see up my skirt when I walked around above them.
Nothing is easy in NYC—and getting an apartment is really not easy, as I found out when I moved from my beach place in California to downtown New York. I had one day to find my place—a day of lowering my expectations and mentally downsizing.
We moved into the apartment in early June of what was one of the hottest summer’s in New York history. And we didn’t have an air conditioner. When we had people over that summer, to take a break we’d walk across the street to the Food Emporium to stand in the frozen food aisle. After a visit from…
The young couple who sublet me the tiny, dark apartment cautioned me, “Don’t draw attention to yourself. The landlord can’t know that we left!” The wife even left her furniture in the place, and so I discreetly moved in my own stuff in small bags and suitcases, making many trips. And then…
The walls were as thin as the saltines on which I spread Potted Meat Food Product for dinner. I was privy to every sound of one neighbor’s bed squeaking and creaking in response to his nocturnal movements. His incoherent mumblings almost made sense to me some nights. Another neighbor was an opera singer. He was a horrible opera singer.
We went away one weekend. I don’t remember where we went but I do remember we left the windows open so our apartment wouldn’t be too stifling when we got back. And I’ll never forget the sight we saw when we returned…
The mice, oh, those mice. They were true New Yorkers with a dry sense of humor, showing up at the most inopportune times. I lost more girlfriends that way.
Madonna’s story: “The tall buildings and the massive scale of New York took my breath away. I felt alive. But I was also freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit everywhere, especially in the entryway of my third-floor walk-up.”
While some of the 2013 mayoral candidates’ names may already be fading into history, these New Yorkers’ first apartment memories fit right in with the other stories found on this site, including the shock of seeing what their places look like today.
A man came running up to us screaming, “Did you see the person who just drove off in that station wagon? My car was just stolen!” This was an eye-opening experience, and as I started to pay more attention to my new neighborhood, I realized that ten blocks made a big difference in 1976, and I was not in “Kansas” anymore.
At Greenwich Village’s Café Wha?, an endless list of young ’60s singers and comedians got early chances to hone their talents. Check out the interesting story of Manny Roth, the “Duke of Macdougal Street“ and impresario behind the club.
My first apartment was so small I had to step outside to change my mind. The year was 1968. The apartment was on Sullivan Street, just above Little Italy, with a live poultry market around the corner.
My first NYC apartment was on Steinway Street—party central of Astoria, Queens. I have very fond memories of my bachelor days there, but there are a lot of strange memories, too.