Many, many cranes are hard at work these days in that neck of the woods; apparently, real estate developers are firmly of the opinion that people will pay even more than the usual Manhattan rates to live in an apartment or condo near the High Line. They may be right; nobody's yet found the ceiling on what New Yorkers will pay for anything.
This is the story we heard Saturday on the street. Of course, none of it is confirmed.
So. There's this guy who bought a penthouse atop a nice new condo tower on 18th Street, half a block north of Rittenhouse Square. His unit includes a nice big terrace that wraps around at least two sides of the building; his views must include virtually all of downtown Philadelphia and beyond. Expansive, and no doubt expensive.
But not good enough. He didn't like his windows, we're told. He wanted to replace them with better windows and, apparently, more windows. He wanted lots and lots of really, really big windows. Three long trailer trucks full of windows.
Problem was, the new windows wouldn't fit in the elevator to get them up to his penthouse.
He needed a crane, and not just any crane. To operate in the cramped confines of a narrow city street laid out in the days of William Penn, the crane had to lift glass straight up for hundreds of feet and then rotate without bumping into any of the buildings thereabouts and deposit the glass gently on the penthouse terrace. Vehicular traffic could be blocked during this process, but not pedestrian traffic; nearby businesses wanted to keep their doors open the entire time.
There were only three cranes on the east coast, we were told, that could handle this sort of job. One of them was hauled to Rittenhouse Square on Saturday morning. In pieces.
Another crane was needed to help put the big crane together. In case you were wondering, the pieces are held together with big cotter pins.
Police officers were needed to direct traffic around the closed-off block. City buses were rerouted and sometimes delayed, forced into attempting painstaking tight turns onto streets not really suitable for them.
Two large crews of workmen were on duty all day, a crew of heavy equipment guys and a crew of glaziers from Local 262.
So there's the cost of the new windows, and of a rare, expensive crane that had to be assembled by a second crane, plus three tractor trailers to haul in the windows, various vehicles to haul the parts of the cranes, two crews at union wages, lots of expensive permits to block a street and redirect traffic and park all the trucks all day . . .
And then later, after all the new windows are up on the penthouse terrace, there will be the expense of removing the old windows, redoing the walls to accommodate the new windows, installing them . . .
We were told $250,000. Does that sound right to you?
The top of One Liberty Place, way above the setting sun, as viewed from about 500 feet up in Two Liberty Place, a block away.
The spire of One Liberty Place is said to top out 945 feet above the ground.
Nice looking skyline, is it not? The city is Albany, New York, which may or may not be a nice place to live or even a nice place to visit; I've never been there and yet . . . here I am squawking about it.
It's actually one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Western Hemisphere, founded in the early seventeenth century as Beverwijk, a Dutch village outside the gates of Fort Orange. Beverwijk was renamed Albany when the English took over in the mid-century, and in 1686, the city was officially incorporated under a charter that is said to be one of America's oldest governing documents still in effect.
Albany was also the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal and for many years produced beer that was shipped westward on the canal to all the thirsty pioneers out in the hinterlands.
The painting below shows Albany's North Pearl Street in approximately 1800.