‘Lease, Perpetually’: The Worth of Residing in New York Metropolis


My mom, Sandra Rodriguez, moved into 602 West 132nd Avenue in 1986. A good friend advised her in regards to the house throughout the road from the then Alexander Doll Firm. The hire was $311 a month. She was working at a garment manufacturing unit and pregnant together with her first daughter. She thought that the two-bedroom, one-bath, could be an excellent place to develop her household.

Via the years, she raised her three youngsters in that small house. Christmases, birthdays, graduations, holy hours, all got here and went for my household in our cramped however loving dwelling. When my mom’s prolonged household arrived from the Dominican Republic, all of them took turns staying with us till they have been on their ft sufficient to wander additional on their very own. The kids would usually share a bunk mattress with one of many company.

Nonetheless studying to maneuver within the metropolis and confronted with a language barrier, my aunts and uncles discovered that small house was a life raft. And we had different household: our neighbors, a few of which have been welcoming household from overseas, similar to we have been.

Discover the correct constructing and have the correct luck and a 600-square-foot house could be a lifelong residence, a spot to lift a household, entertain and shed the burden of an extended commute. The house turns into dwelling base for a string of generations.

Earlier than Celia Aguilera was born, her dad and mom, Brigida Aguilera, a seamstress, and Juan Aguilera, bookbinder on the Franklin Mint, ran into one another on their strategy to work at Columbus Circle and fell in love. It was serendipity, Ms. Aguilera stated, as a result of the couple had recognized one another after they lived within the Dominican Republic and immigrated to New York in 1960.

About 5 years later, Mr. Aguilera heard of a vacant house that was obtainable on West seventeenth Avenue in Chelsea. The house was in poor situation, but it surely was reasonably priced, $56.32 a month. They moved into the railroad two-bedroom house within the winter of 1965. Two months after they moved in, Ms. Aguilera, who now works in psychiatry, was born. “When my mom handed away, I bought the house,” Ms. Aguilera stated. Her mom died in 2010 after a lifetime in Chelsea. Her father died in 1986 of renal failure. “A few of us keep due to custom. We’ve been right here all this time. I really feel like my house is sort of a runway for my household.”As Chelsea has modified decade after decade, the Aguileras have been a fixture. The Aguileras have celebrated, cried, held and nursed one another again to well being, of their dwelling.


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