New York's smallest piece of private land - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

New York's smallest piece of private land

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The Hess Triangle is a tiny piece of private property in Greenwich Village. Manhattan historian Joyce Gold explained the origins of the property: After World War I, New York City seized a beautiful residence and tore it down so it could extend Seventh Avenue and the west side subway below it.

The city left the building's owner, David Hess, only a tiny scrap of property so small it requested he donate the triangle to make way for a sidewalk. Hess refused, took the city to court, and won.

He tiled a permanent message on his 500 square inches: "PROPERTY OF THE HESS ESTATE WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN DEDICATED FOR PUBLIC PURPOSES."

More than 90 years later, now the property of the equally old cigar shop before which it lies, the cracked and fading mosaic bears the weight of countless feet oblivious to its history every day.

Its message of defiance and more than a little stubbornness outlasted any of the humans who fought for or against this scrap of not-sidewalk so long ago.

"In New York if a piece of property is used by the public every day it becomes city property," Gold said. "Like with a street at Rockefeller Center, I believe they close this off for one day every year."

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