Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have an inexplicable interest, obsession perhaps, with old buildings. Places with history. I live in one, I work in one. I send handwritten letters to people who used to live in them, after snooping around to find them on the internet.
Guilty as charged. I want to hear stories.
After a very tiring day yesterday, I reclined for a moment on our new studio sofa as the light was fading. I spend so much time there rushing around, engrossed in projects. That's what a workspace is for, after all. But I watched dusk fall over my little room, my thoughts turned toward the small group of people, of which I am now a part, who have seen the light fade just so.
When I first saw the studio, I knew right away that I would be happy working there. All the details were in place: moldings painted over dozens of times, always in white, heavy windows with original glass, the scent of old wood. I began to research the history of the building, something I do quite often these days. I can easily become fascinated with a building while waiting for the bus, or walking to the bookstore, as I did in the case of 219-221 Bowery. I'm still getting over that one. As I sifted through what little information was available about my studio building at 71 West Broadway, I came across a particularly touching story. It turns out that it is much easier to imagine a bit of what went on in your building before you (at least, in the more recent sense), when one of the previous tenants is a documentary filmmaker.
I discovered the filmmaker's own account of life at 71 West Broadway on the day of, and in the days following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center two blocks away. You can watch it here.
No one lives in the building now, perhaps due to a combination of the cost of legalizing residential loft conversions, and the changed landscape of the neighborhood following the attacks. But this part of the building's history has been often in my thoughts since watching the film, and it is my hope that further research may reward me with a few more stories, at least.