Every structure has a story, an external one and an internal one. The external story is the history of the building — who built it, when and why. The internal story traces the lives of the people who lived in the building. “The Man with the Sawed-Off Leg and Other Tales of a New York City Block” is about both, but mostly the people — an eclectic, fascinating and occasionally just ordinary bunch who lived in the buildings at 330-337 Riverside Drive over the past century.
They lived, starting in the very first years of the 20th century, in a now-landmarked row of townhouses along Riverside Drive from 105th to 106th streets in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood. A criminal gang used one of the buildings as a hideout, and MWSOL chronicles a 1934 armored car robbery they committed called the Rubel heist — the theft of $427,000 from a van making a stop at the Rubel Ice company in Bath Beach, Brooklyn. You will find tidbits about the townhouse residents — their voices, pictures and video — on this Web site. I deeply value any contributions about the Seven Beauties, as I call these buildings, in the comments section from readers.