273 Water Street
Location: 273 Water Street
The third-oldest building in Manhattan, if you don’t count Fraunces Tavern. (The New York Times doesn’t.) There is less logic in survival than anyone can ever be comfortable with. It’s not a wonder why this building still stands—it’s a wonder God didn’t rain fire and brimstone upon it. Accounts of Kit Burn’s Rat Pit tell us that throughout the 1860s, this is where men fought men, dogs fought dogs, dogs fought rats, men with heavy boots stomped on rats, and men bit the heads off of rats. For fun. And money!
Oh wait, actually, God (or some asshole arsonist) did set it on fire, more than once in fact, but long after its career of evil. After a bad one in 1976, it was little more a shell (you can see light coming through the roof here) for years until it recieved a multi-million dollar restoration into an apartment house. Fun trivia that amuses no-one but me: the architect behind the restoration also designed the United Nations’ logo and the Q-Tip box.