A mystery man is apparently living in his RV in a parking spot on Riverside Drive between 73rd and 74th streets, and it’s creeping some neighbors out. Gretchen Berger, who lives around the corner from the RV, says that locals have gone to the police precinct to complain, but were told that they could do nothing about it.

“Never spoke to our local RV’er, as I’ve never seen him, though others have. Although it’s a fairly small RV — a Pathfinder about the size of a box truck — it’s quite an eyesore, a real rust-bucket with out-of-state plates. For several years, it was parked on West End Ave. between 73rd & 74th St., but about 6 months ago, it turned up on Riverside Dr., where it still resides.

It also kind of creeps people out that someone is living in a parking space. Many of us in the area have complained about it’s presence to the 20th Precinct, but apparently it’s legal, as long as it obeys alternate side parking regs, as it’s not considered a commercial vehicle, in which case would be illegal. Perhaps now that it’s on Riverside Drive, fewer residents will notice and complain.

I only hope that more of these RVs don’t show up in our streets or the city will become a trailer park, not to mention that it’s hard enough to find a parking spot as it is. Jimmy McMillan is right, ‘The rent is too damn high.'”

In a recent visit to the RV, no one appeared to be home. We knocked on the door but got no answer. This scruffy stranger could of course own a local apartment and just park his RV there. Maybe he just visits it every once in a while (RV guy, send us an email!).

While RVs are usually associated with more wide-open spaces, they have begun to catch on as housing options in New York because of the insane cost of real estate. A recent article in the LA Times said that several RVs have popped up throughout the five boroughs.

“As the most expensive city in the country gets even pricier…New Yorkers are taking drastic steps to survive the most brutal real estate market in the United States. They are ditching sky-high rents and buying secondhand recreational vehicles.”

For a variety of reasons, though, it’s not the easiest way of life:

“Getting electricity takes some effort. Heating during the winter can get costly. Mail may need to be delivered to relatives’ places or post office boxes. There’s also the issue of how to hook up sewage lines.”

Stay warm, RV guy!

NEWS | 20 comments | permalink
    1. Kaz says:

      People creeps out from the idea that someone does not live in a doorman bldg and complained to the police? Wow. People that afraid from life style that different they own really creep me out

    2. Ken says:

      Can I buy an RV, park it in front of my building and then rent it out by the week on AirBnB as long as I move it every Monday and Thursday? Maybe I can even charge a premium on weeks alternate side is suspended.

    3. EL says:

      What about the fact that this vehicle has an Indiana license plate? And it’s been parked in NYC for much more than a year! That’s got to be illegal. Scruffy guy can’t be entitled to that plate, can he?

    4. no name says:

      Such intolerance for someone hard on his luck who will be freezing his ass off over the winter…..and the first concern for ‘some’ west siders is that it is an eyesore and taking up parking space….wow!

    5. Pat says:

      My first floor apartment looks right out on his bachelor pad and I have to admit I’m less creeped out than jealous and fascinated by his free rent. However over the last year and half of photographing the elusive creature (yes, he’s been here much longer than 6 months), I’ve determined that he doesn’t in fact live in the RV but only visits it for street cleaning and then returns to what is most likely a comfy doorman building around the block. And for those of you curious about who this guy is, I’d describe him as a jolly guy wearing a yamaka, shorts & tube socks.

    6. Harriet says:

      I’ve met the man…he is a rabbi, who is a teacher in New York. Talked to him, but never got his name, although we did exchange a very nice email after I gave him a gift (see below) He is NOT living in the vehicle. He uses it for trips out of town.
      I have always referred to it as the “Matzoh-Mobile” as it has a dish towel printed to look like a Matzoh hanging in the window as a curtain. Last year I left him a gift, a pot holder printed to look like a matzoh, which I had lying around. I left him my email address and he wrote me a very polite thank-you note. I agree that it looks ugly, but I suspect it’s totally legal.

    7. BILL says:


      • Water 4 the Pool says:

        This vehicle has been around for a few years in the neighborhood. Doesn’t bother me one bit. Glad to hear that a few commenters have seen or met the owner and state that he is not the seedy, scruffy loner this article tries to paint him as.

    8. Megan says:

      There is one on CPW between 100th-107th it’s spray painted gold. There is also another one hanging around 106th that has a bunch of stickers and stuffed animals. Creepppppyy maybe it’s Walter White

    9. TG says:

      Wow, these are some terrible neighbors. Complained to the police? About that?

    10. nycnyc says:

      There’s been one on 97th btw CPW and Columbus for several months now. Moves back and forth for ASP, but otherwise doesn’t move

    11. Amy says:

      We also call it the Matzoh Mobile (!) and have seen it in the neighborhood since we moved here – about 4 years ago. We have been curious about it & glad to find out about it’s owner. I’d say that part of living in NYC is dealing with the “scruffy-ness” of it. It’s things like this that make the city fun & different. (And I’m not going to even get into the near vigilante tone of the writer…)

    12. Henry says:

      @Amy: I think if you mentally separate the writing written by the author from the quotes from others quoted in the article, you would be less alarmed by the writer’s tone (albeit you can reasonably remain alarmed at those quoted). Does that make any sense?

    13. Blaine says:

      I’m so pleased to see in the comments that not everyone in the neighborhood is part of the uptight gentry. There is a rich subculture of van-dwellers in our neighborhood, just as there is a rich culture of live-aboards at the 79th street boat basin. I would venture that both varieties of alt dwellers are infinitely more interesting than most of my apartment-dwelling neighbors. Sadly, both of these alternative lifestyles are under threat from the disgust of the encroaching gentry. If I ever bump into our local van dweller coming or going, I’ll be sure to give him a thumbs up!

    14. David says:

      This RV has been parking up and down Riverside Dr. since 2009. Showed up around the time NBC was shooting a series. I think it was Kings. At first, everyone thought it was one of the production trailers. Until the production left, without the RV. He’s been working working the Riverside Dr, and side streets between 72nd and 80th for years. Although it’s not illegal to sleep in the vehicle and obey parking regulations, but the big question is what is he doing with his waste…? He has to pump out his waste at some point, but the RV is never gone from the ‘hood that long. He might be pumping into sewer, which is against the law.

    15. Noreaster says:

      On a not unrelated note, is it fair that people who clearly live in the neighborhood have their cars registered out of state? I venture the answer is no. I wish the relevant laws were actually enforced.

    16. Knitasha says:

      Why is a small RV parked on the street more obnoxious than a hulking Escalade that takes up about the same amount of space?

    17. HK says:

      Leaving a mobile home on the city streets more than 24hrs is illegal. He needs to obey the laws.