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Tenements and Air Rights: A Cautionary Tale

Veronica ML

Veronica ML

In Welsh, it’s called Hiraeth. There is no English equivalent. It’s a nostalgia one feels, a homesickness for a place that doesn’t exist anymore. For me, it’s how I feel when I visit my old neighborhood, New York’s Lower East Side. I haven’t lived in Manhattan for over 20 years, but I have been back and forth enough to adjust to and even appreciate changes. On the West Side, The High Line is change at its best. I’m even excited about the recently approved Lowline, an underground park-like experience that repurposes an abandoned trolley terminal at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. My anxiety over what feels like an Etch-a-Sketch erasure of an historic community wasn’t triggered by things happening below the pavement. My sense of loss really kicked in when I read that Katz’s Delicatessen had sold its air rights.