NYC's smallest private plot of land isn't much bigger than a pizza slice

Tiny apartments are all the rage lately, but tiny real estate has always been a historically hilarious tradition. Case in point: Hess's Triangle, the smallest piece of private property in New York City. It's not too much bigger than the city's largest slice of pizza.

The story behind the 500 square inches of land is as entertaining as it is inspirational. Around 1910, New York City started buying up property in what is now the West Village in order to extend the old IRT subway line further downtown. David Hess, however, refused to sell his five-story apartment building at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue. But citing eminent domain law, the city took it anyways, leaving Hess with just a tiny triangle of land to call his own. Hess was not happy.


As if to add insult to injury, the New York City government then asked Hess to donate the land so that it could be used for a public sidewalk. Hess—now, presumably completely pissed—again refused and took the city to court. Not only did Hess win the case, he also decided to immortalize the battle by installing a tile mosaic on July 27, 1922 that read: "Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated For Public Purposes."

The Hess Estate no longer owns the triangle, however. In 1938, the land was sold to the now iconic Village Cigars corner shop for $1,000. That was a hefty sum then, and after adjusting for inflation, that sum would equal about $16,200 today. Useless as it may have been, the little pizza-shaped parcel of land looks like it was a good terrible investment, though. On average, any other 500-square-inch (roughly 3.5-square-feet) piece of land in the West Village is only worth $7,750. [Atlas Obscura]


Images via Flickr / Walley Gobetz / Jason Eppink

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