Questions for New Yorkers

My MC has a 1-bedroom apartment at the Parkchester Apartments at 2000 East Tremont Avenue, in the Bronx.

She’s a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, at 15 E. 84th St., New York.

I know that, leaving from home, she can take the train from the Lexington Avenue station to get to work. However, what steps does she have to take to get there?

And would there be any difference in her route on the trip back?

What police precinct would cover the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World?

How hard a time would she have getting a taxi in front of THAT police station? Would the taxi driver be willing to take her home?

And finally, is there anything that doesn’t fit with a 45-year-old single female Serbian immigrant, naturalized American professor living in the Parkchester Apartments? It LOOKS like a nice place. Am I going to get her killed by forces other than the ones she has drawn down on herself by discovering that damned vase?

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

14 comments… add one
  • Holly Lisle Jun 5, 2009 @ 8:10

    Bren—Am most definitely hiring spies. (For folks who don’t get the reference, it’s one of the techniques for getting your work right that I teach in How To Think Sideways. 😀 )

    At some point before I finish the book, we’re going to have to make the trip to NYC so I can actually touch things and get the sounds and smells. Take the train. Ride the taxi. See the buildings I’m borrowing. I’ve wanted to go to NYC for years anyway. Setting this book there (besides it being the perfect locale) is my way of forcing myself to make the trip.

  • Bren Jun 5, 2009 @ 1:41

    Holly are you hiring spies again? Sun Tzu would be proud 🙂

  • Rick Jun 4, 2009 @ 19:18

    Ember beat me to it – I’ve *lived* in NYC for years and still don’t know these things. Hopstop has saved my life on more than one occassion.

  • Ember Jun 4, 2009 @ 18:06

    You might also want to look at http://hopstop.com/ if by some chance you need an estimate of the time between two NYC locations.

  • PolarBear Jun 4, 2009 @ 15:12

    Park Slope is a very popular area of Brooklyn, and it sounds like you have good, current sources.

    If you want to put her in a quote-unquote “nice” area of the Bronx, there’s always the place I used to live — Riverdale. It’s right off the 1/9 line (runs the length of Broadway) with easy access directly to downtown Manhattan. Lots of Pre-War buildings which have hardwood floors, sunken living rooms and indoor plumbing (which makes it a luxury building). I’m being sarcastic about the indoor plumbing, of course.

    There are two easy subway stops, parks, and Manhattan College (which isn’t in Manhattan), scenes of which you can see in the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” While I was living there, people getting off the subway late at night would sometimes get knifed on weekend nights. I frequently heard what I swore were gunshots (not dumpsters) at 2am, but I could never match them up with anything reported as happening. That is where I learned hearing helicopters hovering overhead meant a police manhunt was on for someone who’d just done something heinous (dragging a kid into the woods in the park and molesting him and shooting the clerk at motel were two).

    It was also the closest I’ve come to small town living — I saw the same people every day on the same street. I just never bothered to get any of their names. Now that I’m living in a small town, I still say the neighborhood experience in NYC is still very small town.

  • FrugalNYC Jun 4, 2009 @ 14:14

    There are some good affordable areas in Queens such as LIC, Astoria, Woodside or Sunnyside that can get you into Midtown in about 15 minutes on their respective trains.

    From what I hear, the area you mention isn’t too great and I would stay away. Though you may hear differently, especially for those already living in the area.

    Do a bit of research and check out all the options. Queens is the most diverse borough, if that helps at all.

  • Liz C Jun 4, 2009 @ 13:46

    Too funny — I was going to mention Park Slope! I’ve never been, but my 25 yo daughter and two roomies shared an apartment three for about $2700. She loves the area. She had to move away but wants to get back there.

  • Alison S Jun 4, 2009 @ 13:23

    Holly,
    I can’t help with New York, but if you need Serbian vocabulary, I have some very good friends who are completely trilingual – native Serbs who speak English and Swedish as well – who I am sure would be happy to help you.

  • Chuck Jones Jun 4, 2009 @ 13:07

    As a faculty member at ISAW, which is a division of NYU your character would probably be trying to get university subsidised housing downtown or on Roosevelt Island: http://www.nyu.edu/faculty.housing/
    Morningside Heights would be another attractive location for an academic. If she’s just moving to NY, a sublet of a faculty apartment at Columbia or NYU would be a common way to set up initially.

    Cabs are very easy to catch near ISAW going uptown on Madison or downtown on Fifth.

  • Kate Jun 4, 2009 @ 13:00

    a fellow Park Sloper! I actually moved out about a year ago, but it was a great neighborhood – I loved it 🙂

  • Linda Jun 4, 2009 @ 12:57

    I live in Park Slope and work at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. If you want to call please do. 212-992-7800

  • Kate Jun 4, 2009 @ 12:48

    She could afford to rent a floor of a brownstone down in Park Slope in Brooklyn… She’d have to switch to the 4/5 line and the commute would be a little painful, but it’s a beautiful, safe neighborhood…

    Renting a brownstone these days probably costs around 2k a month, maybe slightly more, depending on the owner of the building. Frequently the owner lives on the first floor and garden level, then rents out the top two floors…

    Someone who knows Queens might be able to suggest something in that area – there are some nice neighborhoods, but I never spent much time in Queens.

    The Bronx are hard to work with… the neighborhood isn’t the greatest unless you take one of the metro lines out, or live near the tail end of the CTA lines… Pelham is affordable and on the 6 line, so she could do that…

    If you want her to be on one of the metro lines, have her switch from the metro line to the CTA at 125th street… Of course, I knew a few people who weren’t terribly comfortable with that coming home late at night. There are definitely affordable apartments and even rental houses out on the train lines though…

    That’s a pretty long rant… I’ll stop the suggestions now!

  • Holly Lisle Jun 4, 2009 @ 11:21

    Thanks, Ivy. And rats! I figured the prices on those places were just too good to be true. (Less than what I’m paying per month.)

    Okay. So now I have a new issue. I cringe to say this, but I need help apartment-hunting for a fictional character. The advantage is that we need not concern ourselves with availability. The limitations are that she has to stay within the real-world budget of a non-tenured professor working for tenure in a school that is just starting up. I’m figuring $2500/month max.

    I’d like for her to be able to take the train to work—it fits with my plot. I’ll need cab availability for some things. She’s not averse to riding buses during daylight hours. And she has to have basic necessities (a good place for pizza and coffee, a neighborhood grocery, a couple of decent eateries that won’t kill her budget) within bag-carrying walking distance. An older building is fine, plain and simple is very good. It would suit her. Walkups are fine—she’s in good shape. She has a one-bedroom place with a closet by the foyer, big windows that open onto a street below (with or without balcony would be fine). I’m willing to bend the building to fit my needs, but I need a decent location.

    And you’ve earne a thanks in the acknowledgments for your previous post. I really appreciate it.

  • Ivy Reisner Jun 4, 2009 @ 10:01

    She’s want the 86th street stop on the 6 line. She might switch to a 4 or 5. Lexington Ave is in Manhattan. She’d get on at Tremont Ave in the Bronx and ride straight. A subway map is at http://www.mta.info/nyct/maps/submap.htm

    The Precinct you want is the Central Park Precinct. Their website is http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/precincts/precinct_022.shtml

    This is a low income, high drug use area in the central south Bronx. Personally, I wouldn’t want to live there.

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