The Hess Triangle: West Village, NYC

Yithian

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#1
I've just read an article on one of the overseas BBC pages that seems perversely inaccessible to those within the UK, but for those with other means it is here:

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20190314-new-yorks-cheeky-symbol-of-defiance

Fortunately, Wikipedia has an article and some photographs:

Hess triangle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hess triangle is a triangular tile mosaic set in a sidewalk in New York City's West Village neighborhood at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street. The plaque reads "Property of the Hess Estate which has never been dedicated for public purposes." The plaque is an isosceles triangle, with a 25 1⁄2-inch (65 cm) base and 27 1⁄2-inch (70 cm) legs (sides).

The plaque is the result of a dispute between the city government and the estate of David Hess, a landlord from Philadelphia who owned the Voorhis, a five-story apartment building. In the early 1910s, the city claimed eminent domain to expropriate and demolish 253 buildings in the area in order to widen Seventh Avenue and expand the IRT subway. By 1913, however, the Hess family had exhausted all legal options. According to Ross Duff Wyttock, writing in the Hartford Courant in 1928, Hess's heirs discovered that, when the city seized the Voorhis, the survey had missed this small corner of Plot 55 and they set up a notice of possession. The city asked the family to donate the diminutive property to the public, but they chose to holdout and installed the present, defiant mosaic on July 27, 1922.

In 1938 the property, reported to be the smallest plot in New York City, was sold to the adjacent Village Cigars store for US$1,000 (equivalent to $17,799 in 2018), or approximately $2 per square inch (Another source lists the sales price as US$100 (equivalent to $1,780 in 2018). The new owners left the plaque in place and, as of 2019, it remains.

1920px-Christopher_Street_1_-_SW_stairs.jpg Hess_triangle.jpg
 

Victory

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#2
Extraordinary story.
And hideously expensive!

I am trying to think if there is a London equivalent...I do not know of one.
There is Ely Place in Holborn, formerly an exclave belonging to the Bishops of Ely, but that belongs to the crown now, though it has it's own beadles who watch over it.
It is an urban myth that the City of London Police are not allowed to enter it.

https://flickeringlamps.com/2016/05...ondon-that-used-to-be-part-of-cambridgeshire/
 

maximus otter

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#3
This leads the Fortean on all sorts of interesting tangents: l immediately think of a shopping arcade in the town where l first walked a beat. lt was, and as far as l know remains, private property. To emphasise that it’s a permissive path, the owners erect locked barriers across its entrances on Christmas Day every year. lf they didn’t, then twenty years’ unrestricted public access would lead to the presumption in law that it had become a public highway under s.31 Highways Act 1980.

Regarding that same town, when we patrolled the countryside around it, we described ourselves as being “out in the Liberty”.

Then we’re off to Beating the Bounds...

maximus otter
 

Victory

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#4
This leads the Fortean on all sorts of interesting tangents: l immediately think of a shopping arcade in the town where l first walked a beat. lt was, and as far as l know remains, private property. To emphasise that it’s a permissive path, the owners erect locked barriers across its entrances on Christmas Day every year. lf they didn’t, then twenty years’ unrestricted public access would lead to the presumption in law that it had become a public highway under s.31 Highways Act 1980.


maximus otter
Interesting article here about about "privately owned space with regulated public access"

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/...do-public-space-pops-london-investigation-map
 

Dick Turpin

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#5
I am trying to think if there is a London equivalent...I do not know of one.
There is Ely Place in Holborn, formerly an exclave belonging to the Bishops of Ely, but that belongs to the crown now, though it has it's own beadles who watch over it.
It is an urban myth that the City of London Police are not allowed to enter it.

https://flickeringlamps.com/2016/05...ondon-that-used-to-be-part-of-cambridgeshire/[/QUOTE]


Yes, and a splendid little pub in a tiny alleyway off the court called Ye Olde Mitre.

Although disputed, legend has it that as a child, QE1’st used to play in the rear garden of the pub.

The downside is, it’s believed to be the hardest pub London to find (if you don’t know the area or are a tourist) it’s owned by Fullers, so expensive and it’s always packed to the bloody rafters.
 

Victory

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#7
Looking at the satellite view on Google Maps, it doesn't seem to have a garden.
Years ago the site where the pub now stands was in the proximity of the garden of Sir Christopher Hatton's House...(hence "Hatton Garden", the jewellery and diamond trading area which the pub is a half minute walk from)
Very likely Elizabeth I visited there.

The pub's website claims that Elizabeth I danced round the cherry tree which stands there now.

https://www.yeoldemitreholborn.co.uk/about
 
Last edited:

ChasFink

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#8
I've been to the neighborhood of Village Cigars many times - although not recently - and don't remember the plaque. Then again, my memory is rather faulty these days.

I am reminded of a small plot of land between the Mirage and Treasure Island casino/hotels in Las Vegas. The two hotels were owned by the same company at one point, and the land owner refused to sell at a reasonable price, so - even though there's nothing practical that can be done with it - it remains (last I heard) private property in the middle of hotel landscaping and parking garages.
 

Mythopoeika

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#9
Years ago the site where the pub now stands was in the proximity of the garden of Sir Christopher Hatton's House...(hence "Hatton Garden", the jewellery and diamond trading area which the pub is a half minute walk from)
Very likely Elizabeth I visited there.

The pub's website claims that Elizabeth I danced round the cherry tree which stands there now.

https://www.yeoldemitreholborn.co.uk/about
Looking at the 360 view on the website, there is no tree there. However, the 'About' text describes it as 'supporting the front', so I suspect it's now part of the woodwork.
 
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