Friday, September 09, 2005


speed round

#1: On our street, but closer toward the river, and hence more expensive. The owner is a Russian emigree; she tells me she'd always wanted to be a journalist. She is enthusiastic and smiley, she approves of my second-string glasses. The windows are arched and extend to the next-door unit: they seem impressive from the street, but on the inside, it looks like you're staring at half of a face. Appliances are new standard, and the floors are dark hardwood. One of the two closets contains a boiler. B-.

#2: Third floor, over a nail shop. The staircase is horrible, and it smells like garbage. The apartment itself is best imagined as a long, hooked corridor, with a bedroom on one end and a gloomy den on the other. There is almost no closet space -- the occupants have built shelves, but the landlord informs me that these will be taken down. The kitchen is large, but drab. The rent is $200 more than we're currently paying. Again I am reminded that there is very little correspondence between price and quality. D+.

#3. Right across the street from our flat. Looking at the road from the opposite front staircases is like being held upside down. The owner and occupier is a rocker who is friendly and enthusiastic about Jersey City. The first floor apartment he shows me is oddly configured: the living room is keystone-shaped, with two tiny closets set into the shortest wall. The floor is covered with shag carpet, and the kitchen bears the unmistakeable stamp of having accomodated young postcollegiate men. It is dark. A giant transformer is set into the wall of the spare bedroom. C-.

#4. Snug, but interesting. The wood floor is made of uncommonly broad planks. The renovation has preserved much of the place's character: ceiling moldings, arches around the doorways, some wall detail. The kitchen is cozy, meaning that it's hard to imagine it accomodating a food snob. One of the narrowest refrigerators I've ever seen stands beside a small sink. A leak in the bathroom ceiling has been inexpertly painted over. The kitchen door leads out to one of the largest backyards I have ever seen in a city apartment. This would be ours, as well as a share of the washer and dryer, and the basement storage space. B.

#5. When I ring the bell, a grouchy old man comes to the door. He is not here to show the apartment, he tells me, he is trying to sleep. Gulp. I'm rescued by the landlord, who privately apologizes for his tenant. He leads me to a small top-floor apartment that has been lovingly restored. There's a skylight, track lighting, and exposed brick in the bedroom. It would be ideal for a single person with few possessions; say, a grouchy old man. Beautiful, but really not for us. B-.

#6. We're just north of Van Vorst Park, on a block associated by many Downtowners with hoodlums. I'm fine with hoodlums. The flat is very large, but it's been broken up into six chambers, so it doesn't feel spacious. I'd knock out a wall or two if I could, but tenants aren't allowed to do that, and besides, I wouldn't know where to begin knocking out a wall. The closets are old, but big; the kitchen is a tight yellow alley behind the bathroom. There are north, south, and east-facing windows, and all open out on to greenery. The owner likes us; he wants us to sign an application. We take one. But we're not ready for that yet. B.

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