On Gay Street, Another Piece of NYC’s History Is Coming Down
Since 1976, Denise Marsa, a singer-songwriter, has lived in her tidy studio around the corner, in the building Ms. Martin once owned at 18 Christopher Street. (She can still remember the original rent: $174.24.). She tried to help Ms. Martin in her final years, urging her to make a will, but her landlord “lived in a fairy tale,” she said.
Today, Ms. Marsa, 68, is the last residential tenant in the building, her cheerful apartment, with its kitchen tucked into a closet, an object lesson in small-space living and the promise of studio life as a launching pad. She, too, has rendered her home in song, as Comden and Green once did, in a number featured in “The Pass,” her one-woman show about making it in the big city, which she performed at United Solo, a theater festival in Manhattan, in the fall of 2021. (The storefronts below her are full; John Derian, the purveyor of his own brand of charming decay, took over the spot occupied by Mr. McGhee four years ago.)
Back at the rally organized by Mr. Berman, the mood was festive, despite everything. The growl of a bulldozer interrupted the protesters. Its driver, a private contractor, said he was there to do work under the road in front of 14 Gay Street. When questioned, he said he did not know who had hired him, and beat a retreat. Across the street, Joan Goldberg, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens, was holding a quasi-open house at 13 Gay Street, a modest Greek Revival built around 1840 and owned by Margaret Kunstler, the widow of the civil rights lawyer William Kunstler, who died in 1995 and was known for representing some controversial clients. (The house is on the market for $6.9 million.)
“It was a wonderful street to live on,” Ms. Kunstler said. “We had big Halloweens. Sometimes we would shut down the street for birthday parties. The house was open; there were constant comings and goings.”