From left: Lever House and its courtyardOccupy Wall Street protesters are only about 3,500 days away from being able to claim Zuccotti Park as their own under “adverse possession.” According to the New York Times, for that reason, the popular Lever House office tower’s courtyard at 390 Park Avenue will be closed by owners RFR Realty this Sunday.
“Adverse possession” is an ancient concept that essentially allows someone who uses another person’s property for a long period of time to claim possession if the rightful owner never challenges it. The concept was more widely practiced with farm land. Today, the claim can only be made on property that goes unchallenged for at least 10 years.
As a result, since 1953 private spaces that welcome the public, including the Lever House courtyard, Rockefeller Plaza, Shubert Alley and College Walk at Columbia University, close for one day every year and have someone present sign an affidavit proving ownership closed the space — thereby asserting its ownership against adverse possession. RFR Realty is closing the Lever House courtyard from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
To be sure, these spaces are technically slightly different from Zuccotti Park, which is a privately owned public space, as opposed to a purely private space that implicitly allows visitors. [NYT]