New Yorkers increasingly living above where they work

CIty denizens breaking trend of living away from the businesses they own

The Blue Man group and Astor Place Theater (Getty, Google Maps)
The Blue Man group and Astor Place Theater (Getty, Google Maps)

Say one thing: the commute is easier.

A new generation of New Yorkers is embracing the once-common practice of living above the business they also own, the New York Times reported.

“For centuries, in rural and urban settings it was the common thing around the world for people to live and work in the same place,” Howard Davis, a professor at the University of Oregon and the author of the book “Living Over the Store: Architecture and Local Urban Life,” told the Times.

The Industrial Revolution led to a major shift where people separated where they worked from where they lived as a means of showing financial and social status.

Those who lived above where they worked typically were immigrants in urban settings, such as Manhattan and Brooklyn, who did not have the means to live elsewhere.
But even store owners by the 1950s began living elsewhere and traveling back into the city to run their businesses, the Times reported.

The trend, however, has reversed, at least a little, with owners and co-owners of a bar, a restaurant, bakeries, a bookstore, a coffee bar and nightclub, and a theater, among other things, choosing to live above where they work.

“People only want to escape when they have work lives they don’t enjoy,” Daniel Nardicio, who lives above his coffee shop in the city, said to the Times.

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Paul Longo, co-owner of a bar in Queens, chose to live above his establishment because he believed his landlord would have a hard time renting out the apartment due to the business’ long hours and the din.

The Fables own the five-story Hell’s Kitchen building, which serves as their home and also houses the Poseidon Greek Bakery, which was founded by the family in 1923.

One of the founding members of the Blue Man Group, Chris Wink, owns and lives above the Astor Place Theater, the off-Broadway venue where the company has operated out of since the early 1990s.

Wink, who owns a duplex in the building, left the group in 2017 and has created a psychedelic art and funhouse called Wink World. His apartment, the Times reported, serves as a creative lab for the venture.

While most people said they preferred to live above their businesses, Wink said he wouldn’t mind a change of pace.

“It warms my heart to see a line of people out on the street who are excited to see Blue Man Group, but I’m increasingly able to look at it as an outsider,” Wink told the Times. “I do think that I would like to live somewhere else.”

— Ted Glanzer