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Eloise, Harriet the Spy and Stuart Little all find themselves in a New York City setting Eloise, Harriet the Spy and Stuart Little all find themselves in a New York City setting
It is well known that Eloise lived in The Plaza, and many classic children's books — think Harriet the Spy,Stuart Little, and the Fudge books — are set in New York City. But many were published before the Manhattan real estate market skyrocketed. In this day and age of record-setting prices, how much would those fictional characters have to pay to live in their homes today? Who would have seen the most appreciation, Eloise or Lyle Crocodile?

Much detective work (à la Harriet) reveals the residences of a boy-mouse and a anthropomorphized girl dog span various neighborhoods including the Upper East Side, Gramercy Park, and Park Slope. What follows is a survey of seven iconic children's books set in New York City and the current valuations of their fictional homes.

Eloise (The Plaza)

Eloise's room at The Plaza, the sherry netherland Eloise's room at The Plaza (l); The Sherry Netherland (r)
The title character of the Eloise books lived on the top floor of The Plaza. The only indication of which apartment she lived in is from one illustration, where the view from her window shows the top of a building that looks very similar to the Sherry Netherland’s distinctive minaret. That would mean Eloise’s apartment had an east view over Fifth Avenue.

There are currently 26 apartments for sale in The Plaza with prices ranging from $999,000 to $16,950,000. We're going to assume that a 20th and 21st-floor penthouse priced at $14.5 million is definitely not Eloise’s - if she had access to that insanely amazing penthouse terrace overlooking Central Park, she would have gotten up to much more dangerous shenanigans.

Since Eloise had nannies, tutors and obviously a huge staff, we will assume her unit would have to be large to accommodate everyone. Therefore, we guess it would be comparable to a 6+ bedroom combination unit, which is currently listed for $16,490,000. Recent closings in the building come to an average price of $3,097 per square foot.

 
 
 
 
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Stuart Little (Gramercy Park)

Stuart Little arriving at his soon-to-be Gramercy Park Home Stuart Little arriving at his soon-to-be Gramercy Park Home
Although E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, never lived on the exclusive keyed Gramercy Park, he clearly loved it. He and a friend once jumped the park fence and he wrote a poem about it called “Gramercy Park,” which was published by his employer, The New Yorker, in the 1920s.

In 1945, E.B. White set his story about a human boy born as a tiny, gray mouse who lived in a stately townhouse on Gramercy Park. The only clues the text gives about where the house are White’s lines, “The home of the Little family was a pleasant place near a park in New York City. In the mornings, the sun streamed in through the east windows, and all the Littles were up early as a general rule.”
 
 
 
 
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The real clues to the home’s location come from Garth Williams’ illustrations. Arlene Harrison, the Gramercy Park Block Association President, a.k.a the “Mayor of Gramercy Park,” and board member Sean Thomas Brady agree the Littles’ house must be 4 Gramercy Park West, a Greek Revival townhouse.

Mr. Brady expanded, “The building at the end of the street is clearly inspired by 60 Gramercy Park North. If you eliminate the stairs down from the porch (maybe because it would make the building seem too unapproachable for a mouse), then the building does look a bit like 4. The one clear element of artistic license are the shadows. If we are looking north they should be on the far side of the objects, because the sun would be behind us, but the artist switched it by about 90 degrees.”
 
 
 
 
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Not only did a small boy-mouse live at 4 Gramercy Park West but so did James Harper, the former mayor of New York City and founder of the renowned publisher Harper & Son (now subsumed into HarperCollins). (Incidentally, Harper & Son published Stuart Little.) 4 Gramercy Park West spent many years as a multi-family rental; however, public records indicate that the building sold for $23,094,094 in June 2017, and permits were subsequently filed to renovate it into a single-family home. It would likely be valued around here today.

Many claim the Littles lived at 22 Gramercy Park South but there is no evidence of this in the actual text and it does not match the illustrations. There are no current availabilities at 22 Gramercy Park South as of this writing, and closed sales in the building come to an average price of $2,119 per square foot.
 
 
 
 
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Harriet the Spy (Yorkville)

Harriet the Spy
Harriet M. Welsch is a precocious Upper East Side 11-year-old who spends most Harriet the Spy wandering through her neighborhood (anchored around Carl Schurz Park) recording her friends’ and neighbors’ every move until they find out what she’s doing and all hell breaks loose.

The author, Louise Fitzhugh, lived on East 85th Street when she wrote the book so she clearly wrote what she knew. Harriet and her family, including beloved nanny Ole Golly and a family cook, live on “East Eighty-seventh Street in Manhattan.” Fitzhugh continues, “Harriet loved her room. It was small and cozy and the bathroom was a little one which looked out over the park across the street.” That would place Harriet’s house at 558 East 87th Street, which is now on the market for $5,975,000.
 
 
 
 
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The Queen Anne style townhouse is part of the Henderson Place Historic District and described by the historic district as, “a tiny architectural gem tucked amidst the burgeoning city.” Only 24 of the original 32 homes originally built for “persons of moderate means” still stand lining the corner of East Avenue and East 87th Street. The homes all have arched entryways, terra cotta plaques, tiny square-paned windows, bays and oriel windows (windows that project out on upper levels).
While Harriet's house's red brick looks much as it did when Ms. Fitzhugh wrote the book, it has undergone a full gut renovation to include new plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems, as well as incorporated digital devices. The living room features a wood-burning fireplace and windows overlooking Carl Schurz Park, and the dining room has a set of bay windows and a restored dumbwaiter (much like the one Harriet used on her spy route). All the bedrooms enjoy treetop views, and the kitchen opens up to a small private patio.
 
 
 
 
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Lyle Crocodile (Yorkville)

Lyle Crocodile, Lyle Crocodile in tub, Lyle Crocodile illustration
Amazingly enough, the one thing Harriet the spy missed in all of her careful observations was that a crocodile lived a mere few blocks away. Bernard Waber’s The House on East 88th Street is a children’s book about the Primm family who move into a elegant Upper East Side townhouse only to find that is already occupied by a crocodile. Clearly, this was quite a surprise and the Primm family was terrified for a few pages, only to discover that the crocodile was, in fact, incredibly nice, talented and eager to help. “He had won his way into their hearts and into their new home.”

The Primm family home is a three-story house has a wrought iron gate in front, a grand staircase that sweeps up to the second floor (with a uniformed maid waiting at the top), stately living and dining rooms, multiple fireplaces, and many bedrooms.
Lyle Crocodile's Townhouse
Lyle Crocodile's Townhouse
In Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (one of the many follow-up books in the Lyle series), there is an illustration of Lyle standing outside his house and the townhouse next door is 234 East 88th Street. That places Lyle and the Primms' house at 235 East 88th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

The building was built in 1920 and currently has 17 units. Assuming it was still a single-family home and in good condition, a small handful of Yorkville townhouses with recent renovations is currently on the market with prices ranging from $5,975,000 to $8,650,000 (per CityRealty listings). If the Primms still lived at East 88th Street, and it was in similar condition to those listed, we would put it around $8 million.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Central Park West)

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing book
Early in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, narrator Peter Hatcher tells the reader, “I live at 25 West 68th Street. It’s an old apartment building. But it’s got one of the best elevators in New York.” While Judy Blume took some creative liberties with the size of the building (the Hatchers’ apartment is mentioned as being on the 12th floor, but the building only has nine in real life), she got many of the details in the story right: The building dates back to 1925, and its address makes it conceivable that kids in the building would play in Central Park after school.
25-West-68th-Street-01 Apartment interior via Corcoran
25 East 68th Street is currently a 75-unit rental building with apartments that have clearly been spruced up since Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was originally published in 1972. There are currently two availabilities on the market, a pair of two-bedrooms starting at $6,800/month. There is no mention of a staff equivalent of Henry the elevator operator, but there is a doorman and live-in superintendent.
Based on Peter’s descriptions of his home, his family likely lives in a three-bedroom apartment. He mentions that his little brother Fudge’s room used to be the family’s den. However, based on the lack of a formal dining room, their apartment couldn’t be classified as a classic six. While it’s never established whether the family owns or rents, we can say for certain that they’re doing well: CityRealty data shows that three-bedroom apartments in Central Park West are closing at a median price of $4,900,000 for condos and $3,136,250 for co-ops.

Knuffle Bunny (Park Slope)

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
In typical Mo Willems style, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale is hysterical. It is a story of an overconfident Park Slope dad who takes his child with him to the laundromat and doesn’t notice when his daughter, Trixie, misplaces her most favorite bunny stuffed animal. Unlike the other books, this story blends illustrations with actual photographs, which made finding the real home much easier.
Image via GoogleMaps

Trixie and her parents live at 599 10th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, one block from Prospect Park. The building is a two unit, multi-family home built in 1901 and it last sold in January 2002 for $879,000. The book was published in 2004, so the valuation today would likely be somewhere between $3 million and $4 million.


Lisa in New York (Tudor City)

Lisa in New York Book
Written by Anne Gutman and illustrated by her husband Georg Hallensleben (who both reside in Paris), Lisa in New York is a fun romp around New York City with a humanized girl dog, Lisa, who is visiting her Uncle Harrison in the big city.

After a cursory look at the two illustrations, Clifford E. Katz, founder and president of Manhattan-based Mobius Realty Holdings LLC, offered the following observations of their locale, “‎The skyline is a classic Midtown visual trope, with left-to-right representing being South-to-North. The cluster of midrise buildings punctuated by 2-3 notably higher skyscrapers, supports this inference. If the implied orientation is indeed south-to-north, it also follows that the implied point-of-view is likely from Midtown East, somewhere between Murray Hill to Turtle Bay. One can then presuming intuit that the tallest building is likely the Empire State [34th and 5th]. All reasonable, as Midtown West historically was not an affluent residential district. Finally, the window fenestration appears to be prewar [noted by divided lights], perhaps intending to represent a building in an architectural vernacular reminiscent of Tudor City.”

Indeed, at 25 Tudor City Place, a high-floor one-bedroom has strikingly similar views as Uncle’s Harrison’s, and the unit's casement windows look remarkably like the ones in the illustrations. It is listed for $625,000.

With the distinguished cravat-wearing uncle and the Warhol prints on the wall, we can presume this is a nice apartment. Since there is no mention of Lisa having to sleep on a couch while visiting him, then the apartment must have at least two bedrooms. According to CityRealty data, closed sales of two-bedroom co-ops in Turtle Bay come to a median price of $840,000.
Lisa's view which is strikingly similar to the view seen off this two-bedroom at 25 Tudor City Place

In summary...

Stuart Little, the smallest character of all the books surveyed, lived in the most expensive house in the city.
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Contributing Writer Michelle Sinclair Colman Michelle writes children's books and also writes articles about architecture, design and real estate. Those two passions came together in Michelle's first children's book, "Urban Babies Wear Black." Michelle has a Master's degree in Sociology from the University of Minnesota and a Master's degree in the Cities Program from the London School of Economics.