In the early nineties, and maybe before, painter Joe Coleman lived in an LES railroad apartment. He paid $234.
In 1993, his landlord raised the rent and priced him out.
Botton moved in. She paid $722.
In 2003, she met her husband.
In 2004, she moved into his rent-controlled loft on Avenue B. Together, they paid $1,350.
The landlord started charging them cash on top of rent. Total, they paid $2,100.
A year later, the landlord raised the rent to $3,600. They tried to fight it. They lost.
After they moved out of the loft, Michel Gondry moved in. (He moved out when he bought a brownstone in Brooklyn for “a little over a billion bucks“)
The last Botton heard, the railroad that once rented for $234 was going for $2,100.
The last ad she saw for the loft put rent at $6,000. “Rumor has it,” she writes, “that Matt Dillon used to live there.”
Botton and her husband moved upstate. They now have 1700-square-foot house, a quarter acre of land, and many old t-shirts. Their monthly payment—including mortgage, interest, taxes, and insurance—is $1,600. It’s theirs.