By Malcolm Carter

Gazing at water — an ocean, a lake, a river has its manifold virtues.

Views of water may suggest variations of tranquility, power, beauty, faith and myriad other shades of human emotion. Even rain, whether an evening shower or a threatening thunderstorm, has the same potential as a trickling stream or a roaring ocean.

I get it: There is nothing like walking on a sandy beach, negotiating the banks of a canal or sitting comfortably in the arms of a chair or a loved one and contemplating the currents nearby.

Being enveloped by a watery vision is one thing. Seeing it from a Manhattan apartment building, quite another.

I don’t quite understand why a sliver of a river view from an apartment building avenues away from the Hudson or the East River is worth a premium. Or what is so compelling about seeing New Jersey in the near distance.

I don’t even appreciate why an unobstructed view of those waterways, sullied as they are by surrounding man-made structures or buildings in the distance, is so desirable. A side view is something I find even less comprehensible.

That’s just me, I know.

I suppose one reason for the elevated prices that properties with water views command has something to do with status. Probably, it is not quite a chicken-and-egg question, but the likelihood that unimpeded views always were in demand seems to have conveyed added value for partial ones.

If you could afford unobstructed exposures over water, you proved your higher status over urban dwellers who had to live with claustrophobic ones. It is as profound a difference as living in a mansion off Fifth Avenue or a three-room railroad flat in the Lower East Side. You were better, or at least wealthier, than the folks who had to make do with less.

To my mind, the situation is analogous to the lord who surveyed his domain from the top of the hill. Higher always has meant richer and, therefore, more powerful.

So be it. It is the way of the world and always will be.

For my money, though, I’ll always choose the substance of more space for what to me is the superficiality of a stunning vista. But, as I said, I get it. I get it. Sort of.

Below are some of the properties that other brokers have listed and that I have seen recently (prices and other details of the listings may have changed since I first saw them):

Malcolm Carter is a real estate broker and columnist for the West Side Rag. A version of this post was first published at Service You Can Trust, Malcolm’s blog.

Photos by Ed Yourdon via flickr.

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