One of the things I most adore about New York is that it's got such a deep and vibrant history. Since it was founded, this city has been an interesting place, and a difficult place, and (for some) a hugely privileged place, and a place with quite possibly an inflated idea of its own importance. New York is good at holding onto its history. Some cities (AHEM Auckland*) tear it down every chance they get. New York exalts in it. The New York Times has a column every weekend called Streetscapes, in which they share the history of a place in the city - and often the photos, even the oldest, don't differ all that much from what is currently there. Apparently the landmark committee can be a bit of a nightmare for those who own**, when it comes to things like facades and roof repair and even (apparently - I don't personally know anyone who has been affected by this) internal renovations and modifications, but I, at least, appreciate their vigilance.
You can tell a protected historic block by the street sign. Usually they're green, but sometimes you'll come across something that looks like this:
And if you're me, when that happens you get a burst of excitement, and a sudden desire to detour out of your way. I still do this, even after nearly six months on the Upper West Side, which is positively littered with them. Maybe if I lived on a protected block I'd just chill out about the whole thing, but I don't, because I'm pretty sure you pay a premium to live on said blocks. That's a premium on top of the UWS premium, by the way, which is related to the park premium, and the river premium, and is also on top of the Manhattan premium, which is stacked up on top of the New York City premium, which rests on the East Coast premium. (This is either a good example of why New York has an inflated sense of its own importance, or it's the reason why New York has an inflated sense of its own importance. Or maybe it's an example of how everyone in New York's actually a little thick, and they should go set up a new New York in Tennessee, or whatever).
But I digress. Taking a detour down an historic block is free - no additional cost at all - and is so very worth it, even though if you take photos people might look at you as if you're casing the joint (pro tip: dress nicely and look wealthy).
Some of the most beautiful places in this city reside innocently down blocks that most people wouldn't even consider wandering down - and those people are missing a lot. I consider myself insanely lucky to have the chance to soak this all up, each and every day. Maybe not as 'lucky'*** as the people who live inside these houses - but maybe luckier, in a way, because I never have to worry about facades, and I get to enjoy them regardless.
*Have they stopped that yet, Aucklanders?
**It is foolish to buy in New York! Foolish****!
***I'm one of those 'you mostly make your own luck' types, so you know...lucky's probably not the right word.
****Yes, I'm a bit envious.