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Thread: NYC Property Line Demarcation - Revocable Right to Pass

  1. #1
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default NYC Property Line Demarcation - Revocable Right to Pass

    Following up on the discussion at the One Bryant Park / Bank of America Tower thread regarding the Property Line Markers that are seen imbedded in the sidewalk pavement there I decided to investigate.

    During a walk around downtown, I found a number of markers, most all made of brass, that show the property line at various buildings. Many went beyond simply marking the line. They often point out that the right to pass / permission to cross is "Revocable at Will."

    The first one I found was at 140 Broadway (Skidmore Owings Merrill; 1967), a building that takes up the entire block and is well set back from the property line. The first marker I found is at the corner of Liberty and Nassau Street (the marker is the barely visible little square at bottom center):



    The message is clear:



    The amount of space where the right to pass is "revocable" is huge:



    The entire property is encircled by these little plaques; there's another at mid-block along Nassau:



    And one more at the corner of Nassau / Cedar:





    Another batch along Cedar Street, at the outside edge of the planters:





    Maybe somebody grabbed a souvenir upon being down-sized:



    Or possibly it went with Harry:



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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    All along the Broadway frontage of the property there are the same notices:





    They actually cut grooves into the granite to show the exact edge:



    The building entry is way far off:



    The cut in the granite lines up with the edge of other properties on the east side of Broadway:





    I found the next marker a couple of blocks south, at 1 Wall Street, originally the Irving Trust Company Building (Ralph Thomas Walker; 1931) where a 36-story set-back addition was constructed on the southern part of the block in 1965 at 80 Broadway. Where the two parts of the building meet a band of brass that parallels Broadway has been set into the pavement to demarcate the property:



    There used to be a brass marker at the corner of Broadway / Exchange Place, where a set of stairs moves down the south side of the building, but that area is currently under construction. Moving down Exchange Place to New Street an old marker is found on the corner:





    Fairly new gates here on New Street are another sign that one should tread carefully:



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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Walking south on New Street the next marker is found at the corner of New / Beaver,





    The building there (25 Beaver Street, home to the NYS Office of Court Administration and DHCR, among others) has a slight cut out at that intersection, necessitating the demarcation:



    I found the next marker at bit to the SE, at the corner of Broad / South William, the IT&T Building (Buchman & Kahn; 1928) where the corner entry at 61 Broad* (with the great mosaics above the doorway) is setback and a triangular slice of the property has been given over to another chunk of "revocable" public sidewalk (the marker is that itty bit piece of brass at bottom center):







    A bit of history from NY Songlines about 61 Broad at South William:

    Corner: In 1741, this corner was the location of a general store owned by Robert and Rebecca Hogg. A burglary there on February 28 of that year set off a panic, with authorities seeing the crime as part of a "Great Negro Plot" to burn down the town. Thirty-four people, mostly enslaved Africans, were hanged or burnt at the stake before the hysteria was over.
    My next scouting site was the former Goldman Sachs building at 85 Broad Street, thinking that it would definitely have some markers, but none were found.

    But catty-corner across Broad at the little 1963 building at 100 Broad Street I found some of the linear markers in the sidewalk out front (but no plaques):



    There's a little piece of sidewalk delineated by an imbedded strip of stainless steel:



    It matches up the property lines to the north across Bridge Street:





    This site has some notable history going way back:



    The Middle Dutch Church:

    1633 church

    First church building built on what is now Pearl Street (New York City) in New Amsterdam, facing the East River to replace loft services. It was a simple timber structure with a gambrel roof and no spire.
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    I then ventured across Water Street to check out the behemoths that make up the gang of New York Plaza buildings.

    At One New York Plaza I found no plaques, but almost the entire curve of the property line along Water Street from Whitehall to Broad is demarcated by a long strip of stainless steel embedded into the sidewalk beyond the foot of the stairways:







    The metal strip just stops before it gets to the corner of Broad (you can barely see the end of it at the far right below). Here they seem to think that the bunker of the plaza will tell the story of who controls what:



    Across Broad Street at Four New York Plaza, no markers of any sort were found; the bunker mode for delineating property rights rules the day here:





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    Feel free to add any NYC property markers you might come across.

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    In 2008 Lost City had a blog post about a property marker seen at 909 Third Avenue in the mid-50s. He noted this Letter to the Editor from the NY Times:

    Bronze Boundary Markers Provide Legal Protection
    October 25, 1998

    To the Editor:

    The F.Y.I. column puts an inappropriate anti-corporate spin on the ''explanation'' for the little bronze pavement markers that announce: ''Property line. Permission to cross revocable at will.'' (''The Private Sector,'' Sept. 27)

    The real reason for those markers, which you characterize as ''snide,'' has nothing to do with the preservation of ''corporate calm'' or the exclusion of vagrants and criminals, as you assert. Putting the world on notice that crossing is by revocable permission is a simple necessity to insure that the ancient doctrine of adverse possession doesn't rob the landowner of his land.

    Under a legal principle we inherited from pre-Revolutionary English law, open use of land without permission and against the interests of the landowner can gain the user actual ownership of the land after 10 years. By placing the little bronze markers where pedestrians walk, the owners of the private property adjoining the sidewalks confirm that they don't intend to cede that land to the public.

    ANDREW ALPERN

    Chelsea

    AMNY Urbanite also had a 2008 post about a marker seen out front of the Haier Building on 36th between Broadway and Sixth (formerly a grand home to the now-defunct Greenwich Savings Bank):

    ... read more for an explanation behind these plaques, which are designed to prevent "adverse possession" of a property by someone who does not own it.
    Adverse Possession: Mind Your Property

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