The Land: Monuments to Stubbornness

In 1963, Macy's Department Store decided to build a branch in Queens, N.Y., began to buy up all the property on a prime five-acre site. As quickly as anyone could say money, everyone had sold out — except for Mary Sondek, an elderly mother of six, who lived in a two-story gingerbread house on a 170-ft. by 50-ft. corner plot. Assuming that she was simply waiting until the price was right, Macy's went ahead with plans for a circular stadium-sized store whose perimeter would cut a small corner off the far end of the widow's backyard. Not even $200,000 could...

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