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‘Rent, forever’: The price of living in New York City

My mother, Sandra Rodriguez, moved to 602 West 132nd Street in 1986. A friend said about the apartment across the street from the then Alexander Doll company. The rent was $ 311 per month. She was working in a garments factory and was pregnant with her first daughter. She thought a two-bedroom, one-bath home would be a great place to raise her family.

Over the years, she raised her three children in that small apartment. Christmas, birthdays, graduations, holy times, everything came for my family in our cramped but loving home. When my mother’s extended family arrived from the Dominican Republic, they were all with us until they were on their feet to wander on their own. Kids usually share a bed with one of the guests.

Still learning proficiency in the city and facing a language barrier, my aunt and uncle found the tiny apartment a life raft. And we have other family: our neighbors, some of whom were welcoming family from abroad like us.

Find the right building and have the right luck, and the 600-square-foot apartment can be a lifelong residence, a place to raise a family, entertain and relieve the burden of a long journey. The apartment becomes a string home base for generations.

Before Celia Aguilera was born, her parents, seamstress Brigida Aguilera and Juan Aguilera, a bookbinder at the Franklin Mint, fell in love with each other on the way to work at Columbus Circle. It was serene, as the couple lived in the Dominican Republic and knew each other when they emigrated to New York in 1960, Aguilera said.

About five years later, Mr. Aguilera asked about the vacant apartment available at 363 West 17th Street in Chelsea. The apartment was in poor condition, but it was $ 56.32 a month at an affordable rate. They moved to the railroad two-bedroom apartment in the winter of 1965. Two months after she moved, Ms. Now, who works in psychiatry Aguilera was born. “When my mother died, I got an apartment,” Mrs. Aguilera said. Her mother died in 2010 after a lifetime in Chelsea. Her father died in 1986 from kidney failure. “Some of us stay because of tradition. We have been here all day. I think my apartment is like a runway for my family. Aguileras was a fixture as Chelsea changed from decade to decade. The Aguileras celebrated in their home, weeping, holding and returning to health.

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