On Our Eulogy for Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage


How sad we are to learn (this from The Times) that “the New York City Council cleared the way this afternoon for a 17-acre campus expansion by Columbia University, the largest in its history.” How sorry we are for Nick Sprayregen and his family, the owners of Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage, the largest private-property owners in the area who have fought this expansion so valiantly, and now will be forced to accept millions and millions of dollars from Columbia in exchange for their buildings as part of a carefully negotiated settlement in advance of an eminent domain action.

The loss is incomprehensible! To think of West Harlem without Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage is not so different than midtown without the Empire State Building! We like to remember how often we (like so many others) have emerged from the dank tunnels of the Number-One subway line headed toward the elevated platform at 125th Street, only to have our spirits lifted by the bright-orange facade of a pre-war manufacturing facility so lovingly converted into a Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage facility. And how depressing will it be to look down on an urban campus filled with students and researchers, knowing that each one of them has ripped out a tiny little piece of your heart? Does City Council have no regard for the impact of your departure on the local community? Each of your buildings must employ at least two janitors and an equal number of receptionists!

Sadly, the road ahead does indeed appear bleak for you, Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage. But take heart, your loss will not be entirely in vain: we in Washington Heights have long been engaged in the same fight against Columbia Medical’s designs on our neighborhood, which will no doubt deprive us of the bodegas, pharmacies and “phone-booth” stores that like golden threads have so long beautified and enriched the tapestry of life on Broadway and Amsterdam. (Exhibit A: the new Starbucks at 168th Street, which replaced a beloved “ladies undergarment” store.) Uptown developers and similarly minded profiteers, be warned: this ghetto is not for sale! A beacon of bright-orange hope, the eternal spirit of Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage lives on forever!


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