Autumn coming to New York is also a reminder to us that Open House New York has arrived, which is a weekend in New York City where public spaces that are usually closed off to the general public, as well as private spaces like notable apartments and office spaces with interesting architectural elements, open up for viewing. When we’ve been here and haven’t been occupied with other activities, we’ve always made a point of seeing a few sites. This year, one of the sites we visited was the Westbeth Artists’ Housing in the West Village, which has been providing subsidized housing for artists since the early 1970s (and, as my research revealed, was also a site where the Manhattan Project was worked on during World War II). As of 2011, the highest amount of rent any one tenant was paying was $1,700/month, and for many decades, a wait list has existed for artists to get admitted into the building.
In a city as expensive as New York, it is comforting to know that housing opportunities like this exist to allow for creativity and the arts to continue. Westbeth is known to be the largest federally subsidized collection of apartment buildings in the entire country. And as an added bonus, family who live here are allowed to pass their apartments down to their children and future generations.
I occasionally wonder what my life would have been like if I had taken the less “practical” route. But this housing opportunity allows the children of artists to take the chances that I was too scared of ever taking.