I live in what is unquestionably a beautiful building: a three-storey century-old brownstone with spacious fireplace-having apartments and hardwood floors. Transom windows overlook the doorframes Original skylights admit soft light into the stairwells.
The basement is another story: a fluorescent warren of claustrophobic hallways with tiny basement suites, stained and stinking sections of carpet, bare rooms with discarded wooden planks and radiators. Our basement is cramped, terrifying and dank, but above all it is democratic. Everyone in our building has to descend to the basement from time to time, either to do laundry or to retrieve something from storage. Our basement is inescapable. And there's a door with cards posted to it, no matter what time of year you pass by.