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"New York Magazine" peeks into the lives of others/ourselves

New York Magazine’s latest feature gives readers the full REAR WINDOW treatment

To celebrate its 43rd birthday, New York Magazine ran a nearly cover-spanning story on the one topic that New Yorkers never seem to tire of: their apartments. From tales of the city’s most notorious starving artists to those living comfortably on the other end of economic spectrum, I heartily salute “The New York Apartment: A Biography” for its breadth of scope, surprising anecdotes and collection of historical photographs.

The subject of apartment dwelling truly inexhaustible. With so many people crammed into one little island (and its outlying boroughs), a magazine could devote itself entirely to investigating the homes and living habits of the city’s inhabitants and never run out of material. Albert Maysles’ amazing Harlem digs – namely the fact that he’s got one of those enviable endless pools in his brownstone – is itself worthy of a feature. One of the best short pieces is by New Yorker staff writer and former Paris Review editor-in-chief Philip Gourevitch, who lived in a “dank, bilgy” smelling tugboat on the Hudson in Tribeca when he first moved to New York at the age of 25. To get to the boat he had to “dash across the northbound highway…vault the concrete divider and dash across the southbound lanes, to the foot of the pier through the cut in the chain-link fence, and shout at the gate in the next chain-link atop the next concrete divider…on account of the dogs…two German or Belgian shepherds ” who guarded the other side.

The next time you’re driven to insanity on account of your too-small-for-words bathroom, just think about the bathroom in one New Yorker’s 55-square-foot studio, which was too tiny to accommodate taller guests who “were unable to sit in his bathroom and close the door at the same time.” At least he could be thankful that his bathroom was its own room. Cindy Sherman’s 1982 apartment had a shower in the kitchen and a toilet down the hall. But inspiring feelings of gratitude despite the shortcomings of your current living situation is hardly the point of the story. It’s a fascinating survey of city life told from all sides. They could run one of these every month and I don’t think I’d ever grow weary of learning about how the rest of the city lives.