It often seems as if the jackhammer is the soundtrack to New York, as construction is a constant in this city. Given the frenetic pace of development in the five boroughs, it feels almost unbelievable that there are abandoned sites all over New York, left to go to seed as the steel skeletons of ever higher, newer, glassier structures rise around them. Here are eight of the most interesting abandoned sites in NYC, from the site of the city’s first airport to a defunct freight line.
Houdini image: Wikimedia Commons.
The 6,008-square-foot four-story townhouse at 278 West 113th Street that once belonged to master escape artist Harry Houdini has sold for $3.6 million–a full $1 million below its original ask–according to Mansion Global. 6sqft reported last June that the former home of the illusionist, magician and one of the most talked-about celebrities of the early 20th century and his wife, Bess, had hit the market for $4.6 million. Houdini–born Erich Weiss, the son of a rabbi from Budapest, lived at the Harlem home for 22 years until his death in 1926.
An incredible Georgian estate in Ridgefield, Connecticut is up for auction at an asking price of $4.75 million. The 10-bedroom mansion at 162 Old West Mountain Road, also known as Sunset Hall, was owned 100 years ago by Harry Houdini’s brother, Dr. Leopold Weiss, and it’s said that the magician practiced his underwater escapes in the pool. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sits on nearly seven acres of land with sweeping views of the Long Island Sound and Catskill Mountains. As the New York Post learned, it also has quite the celebrity pedigree. It was originally built in 1912 for U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain James Stokes and was subsequently owned by the Brooklyn beer baron Samuel Rubel and famed actor Robert Vaughn; and after WWII, it was considered for an official site of the United Nations.
Join the Society of Magicians on Halloween for a séance at Harry Houdini’s former Upper East Side home, Sun, October 30, 2016
Last week, a commemorative plaque was installed on the facade of the former Upper East Side home of Harry Houdini at 244 East 79th Street, marking the 90th anniversary of his death and celebrating National Magic Week. To coincide with this, the Society of American Magicians will meet tomorrow for a séance at the building’s Sojourn restaurant in hopes of contacting the great illusionist. As the Wall Street Journal notes, when he and his family moved into the top-floor studio of the boardinghouse in 1887, a young Houdini practiced his tricks and escapes in the space that now holds the eatery.