"At the point where Christopher Street meets Seventh Avenue South, in front of the entrance to the modest-but-iconic Village Cigars store, there’s a small mosaic triangle set into the sidewalk. It reads, "Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes." It commemorates one man's stubborn real estate standoff against city officials.
Back in the 1910s, a great swath was being cut diagonally across the Village, to extend and widen Seventh Avenue below Greenwich Avenue and to allow the IRT subway to move farther downtown. Using the power of eminent domain, the city decisively condemned and demolished 300 pieces of property, including a five-story residential building called the Voorhis Apartment, owned by a Mr. David Hess.
Somehow, when all was said and done, Mr. Hess was left owning a small triangle of land. To add insult to injury, the city wanted him to "donate" the parcel, which would be incorporated into a new sidewalk. Hess refused. He defied municipal bullying and went to court to assert his rights. By the time the case was settled, "The D. H. Hess Estate of Philadelphia" was the obstinate owner of approximately 500 square inches of useless surface area. "