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The Secret City


New York is a voyeur’s paradise. Why else, apart from pigeon-watching, would so many high-rise dwellers keep binoculars in their bedrooms?

But not everything can be seen from the 45th floor, or from the sidewalk. So we went on a hunt for a few of the city’s more intriguing hidden spaces. What we found was a living room under the stars, complete with a rooftop fireplace; an art power couple’s private museum; a basketball court tucked inside a 1903 Stanford White townhouse; a heated outdoor lap pool (whose lucky owners can swim amid snowflakes); a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t private study; and a bowling alley in the basement of the Frick.

This was, in part, an investigation into residences that reveal little of themselves to the street. Like Halston’s old place on East 63rd Street, with its alluring dark-glass façade. We were curious to see what its current owner has done with the Paul Rudolph–designed masterpiece, site of so many caviar-and-cocaine dinner parties.

But it was also an opportunity to indulge in more blatant voyeurism. And so to satisfy those who are especially curious about the private lives of public people, we nosed our way inside Donna Karan’s “secret garden,” Mario Batali’s fridge, Ronald Lauder’s office, Candace Bushnell’s shoe closet, Dr. Pat Wexler’s medicine cabinet, and Martha Stewart’s brand-new gym—built in an old goat barn when she was in jail and off-limits to her during home confinement. She is now free to enjoy it, and so, in this issue, are you.


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