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For the last 25 years, I’ve lived in Tudor City, an apartment complex in Midtown East, located from 40th to 42nd Streets between First and Third Avenues. Tudor City is a series neo-Gothic buildings -- the first skyscrapers in the world.
I rent, but it's a mix of owners and renters. I love the neighborhood. It’s built on a granite cliff, so it's like a little village set above the rest of New York.
It’s also across the street from the United Nations building. Most of the time, the U.N. makes a pretty good neighbor, but there are a few drawbacks.
On the positive side, my neighbors are a very international crowd. Many diplomats and U.N. workers have pied-a-terres in the area. There are people from all over the world living around me. I practice French with a family on my floor, as well as with the owner of my favorite coffee shop downstairs. I have a lot of “sometimes” neighbors; many of them are gone for months at a time. It keeps the neighborhood quiet.
I do have trouble parking in my neighborhood – so much of the street parking is reserved for diplomats. It seems unfair sometimes, especially if I have a carload full of stuff and can’t find a place to stop and unload. But I got a garage for day-to-day parking. It’s more expensive -- about $500 a month -- but less of a hassle.
It’s exciting to be so close to such an important place, with world leaders coming and going. It does get hectic when there are big meetings; the traffic and added security can be overwhelming. But after 25 years, I’ve gotten used to it and I try to plan my vacations when I know a lot of diplomats will be in town for a General Assembly. Fortunately, the U.N. website lets me know about these meetings well in advance.
There are also occasionally protests across the street. They can be loud, but they’ve never moved in for more than two months!
The U.N. building has been under construction for a few years, but we are shielded from the site because there are no windows facing east in Tudor City. When the complex was built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, slaughterhouses and a power plant lined the East River, so the architect decided no one needed a view of that.
Ralph Bunche Park, which overlooks First Avenue from 42nd Street, attracts a lot of tourists, who climb the stairs to get a better photograph of the U.N. We end up with more than a few slow-moving guests on the narrow sidewalks of our complex. Once they are in Tudor City, I think they are really surprised: there’s nothing else in New York quite like it.