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Since its premiere in 1969, " Sesame Street" -- both the PBS kids' show and the fictional block on which it is set -- has been a place where city dwellers of different incomes and races could co-habitate harmoniously. Their brownstone houses weren't luxury accommodations back in those early days -- this was an old-fashioned New York City neighborhood, and everyone was welcome.
No wonder there was a public outcry last week, when it was announced that all new episodes of "Sesame Street" would be broadcast first on HBO, the premium cable TV service. Only those who can afford it are welcome now, naysayers gripe.
Of course, the same can be said today of the various New York neighborhoods thought to have inspired the creators of the show. Where is Sesame Street, and what would it cost to live there? The short answer would make Oscar the Grouch even grouchier: It would cost a whole heck of a lot.
Nobody knows the exact block on which Sesame Street was modeled, though there are some educated guesses, including parts of East Harlem, the Upper West Side, Alphabet City (specifically 123 Avenue B), and Astoria, Queens. (Note: No blocks in those neighborhoods would have only 85 residents, which is the number the Count gave on one late-night TV show.)
Here's what a Sesame Street -- style home would cost in each of those neighborhoods.
Address: 56 E 130th Street
This brownstone "just needs cosmetic polishing," says the listing, and is ripe for redevelopment, with condo plans from the owner already underway. It's a legal four-family building; though, if you really want, you can have a 25-foot-wide, 60-foot-deep mansion. Right now it has four three-bedroom apartments -- you can fit a lot of Muppets in there!
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Upper West Side
Address: 41 West 70th Street
We're not sure you're going to find a more beautifully renovated brownstone on the island of Manhattan. It has beamed ceilings, open kitchen, huge iron-framed windows, modern staircase, a lovingly landscaped garden, and a fancified version of a Sesame Street stoop.
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Address: 249 E Houston St
Though this is on the south side of Houston Street, and thus technically on the Lower East Side, this 19-foot-wide brownstone can be configured as either a "boutique condominium" or a "trophy mansion," according to the listing. "In AS IS condition, the parlor floor can rent for $3,000/month, the third floor can rent for $3,000/month and the fourth floor with access to roof can rent for $4,000/month." Yeah, pretty sure Gordon and Susan wouldn't be living there.
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Address: 4509 20th Road
The kinds of brownstones seen on "Sesame Street" are rare in Astoria, but at least this guy has a stoop. Also: It's one of the nicest homes available right now. It's a two-family, seven-bedroom, three-bathroom house. Here's another perk: a driveway! But, hmm … there were hardly ever any cars on Sesame Street.
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The truth is, the show itself couldn't afford a home in any of these nabes, either. Hence the partnership with HBO, which "will allow the financially challenged Sesame Workshop to significantly increase its production of 'Sesame Street' episodes and other new programming," writes The New York Times. Nine months after appearing only on HBO, the new episodes will be available for free on PBS, as usual. Alas, no affordable housing comes with the deal.