In One Queens Building, the Third Apartment Is the Charm (for Now)

Written by Desmond

December 20, 2021

Isaac Goldberg was working on the 2014 re-election campaign of Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of Huntington, N.Y., when he decided to have a party in his Astoria, Queens, apartment. He sent out a mass invite to everyone working on campaigns for Democrats on Long Island.

Anna Doré didn’t know Mr. Goldberg, but she was helping out with another campaign, heard about the party and decided to go. Ms. Doré, who works in public relations, has spent only five months of the last seven years working in politics. But that short window of time just happened to coincide with Mr. Goldberg’s party. “It was very much kismet,” she said.

It was also 90 degrees when she arrived, and most of the partygoers were circled around the air-conditioning unit, nursing Jell-O shots to keep cool. Campaign posters, an American flag and a 1996 Yankees championship poster adorned the walls. “The décor was definitely in need of some love and affection,” Ms. Doré said.

Surrounded by a mix of memorabilia, election talk and spiked refreshment, she and Mr. Goldberg found each other. One spark led to another and, seven years later, they are married and living in the same building where they met.

“We joke that Anna came to a party at my apartment and hasn’t left since,” Mr. Goldberg said. The joke is only partially true: While the couple has stayed in the building, they are living in their third apartment there — all on the same floor.

It was just a few months into their relationship when Ms. Doré moved in with Mr. Goldberg. She had been living on the Upper East Side, but fate forced her hand when a 4 a.m. fire broke out in her building. “Isaac raced over and came to the rescue,” she said, “even though we were just newly dating.”

She stayed with him that night, and the next day her building was condemned. Sharing the one-bedroom with Mr. Goldberg quickly evolved from a short-term fix to a long-term commitment.

“I didn’t want to be burned into living together,” Ms. Doré said. “But it worked out.”

Eventually, she did lament that the circumstances of the fire robbed them of a moment when they could, more deliberately, arrive at the decision to move in together. The night after she mentioned that to him, she came home from work to find that Mr. Goldberg had a dozen roses waiting for her. “There was a note with them,” she said. “He wrote, ‘I’ve lived alone and I’ve lived with you, and I never want to live alone again. Will you move in with me?’ To which I said, ‘Well done.’”

They were happy together, but it was a small one-bedroom — and there was still that Yankees poster. Then they got word that their neighbors across the hall were moving out of a two-bedroom apartment.

“I think by the time they found a place,” Mr. Goldberg said, “we basically had our couches in their apartment.”

The bigger place had a eat-in kitchen and an extra bedroom to turn into a home office for Mr. Goldberg, who still works as a political consultant — and the move required little work. “The doorways line up perfectly,” Ms. Doré said. “So you could just push our stuff directly across the hallway.”

In 2019, after the couple married at the Queens Museum, they envisioned themselves remaining in the second apartment for years to come. But then, Covid.

With both of them working from home, Ms. Doré set up a makeshift office in the bedroom. “I was sharing a wall with Isaac in his office,” she said. “As a political consultant, Isaac tends to talk on the phone all day.”

Investing in noise-canceling headphones helped “preserve our sanity,” she said, but it soon became clear that they needed a more permanent fix.

They thought the day had finally come when they would move into another building. Over a couple of months, they looked at 10 apartments in 10 buildings, sticking to Astoria for their search.

They are, by Mr. Goldberg’s admission, “Astoria obsessed.” For more than two years, Ms. Doré ran a locally focused Instagram account, WeHeartAstoria.

“I started to love the neighborhood through that lens,” she said. “We knew we didn’t want to leave.”

For his part, Mr. Goldberg is attracted to Astoria’s livability and working-class feel: “There’s the joke that the two hardest things to find in Astoria are doormen and dishwashers.”

$2,600 | Astoria, Queens

Occupation: Ms. Doré is senior director of communications at Rothy’s, a fashion company; Mr. Goldberg is a Democratic campaign consultant at BerlinRosen.

On Doing What You Love: Mr. Goldberg started his career in politics as an intern for the 2008 Obama campaign: “I’ve always loved politics,” he said, “and I’ve always felt blessed that my hobby and profession overlap.” Ms. Doré enjoys working in public relations, she said, because “it’s storytelling, at its core.”

The Proposal: Mr. Goldberg proposed to Ms. Doré at Elias Corner for Fish, a favorite neighborhood restaurant. “It’s classic no-frills,” he said. “They don’t even have menus. The waiter comes over and tells you which fish they have in the case. I proposed in the middle of the restaurant, and everyone clapped.”

During their apartment search, they ran into a neighbor from their building at a bodega. “We saw Mike,” Ms. Doré said, “and he told us, ‘Heads up, we’re moving to Long Island.’”

They were invited to have a look at the apartment and didn’t waste any time stopping by. “That night, we knocked on the door while the kids were eating dinner,” Ms. Doré said, laughing. “And we’re, like, ‘Yeah, we live here now.’”

It was another two-bedroom apartment, but about 200 square feet larger, with a dining room and a foyer. “We were thinking to ourselves, ‘Are we really going to be in a third apartment in the same building?’” Ms. Doré said. “The answer turned out to be a very clear ‘yes.’”

Both moves have been possible not only because of good relationships with their neighbors, but also because of the landlord’s accessibility and the informal atmosphere in the building: Letters regarding modest rent increases carry an apologetic tone, and announcements to tenants are posted in the hallways, handwritten by the super.

“It makes it possible to approach them and say, ‘Hey, look, we’ve been model tenants, minus a few raucous parties — can we move down the hall?’” Ms. Doré said.

By now, they have been in the third apartment for a year. With more space to decorate together, Mr. Goldberg has managed to retain a few mementos in his office. “It’s critical,” he said, “that the 1996 Yankees championship poster is still displayed prominently.”

Ms. Doré has her own work space now, in the living room. “I’m not in the bedroom anymore,” she said, “which is great for my sanity. And my Zoom background.”

She said her mother noted — as did Mr. Goldberg’s mother — that the apartment might be big enough for children. “I think both moms are cautiously optimistic in that department,” she said. “No plans yet, but it could happen in this apartment.”

That is, unless the neighbor across the hall moves out.

“He’s been here since the ’70s,” Ms. Doré said. “He’s an old rocker who teaches guitar lessons and is perpetually threatening to run off to Florida. He has this insane three-bedroom we’ve been eyeing for years.”

She paused briefly, then added: “I guess you could say we don’t know how the story ends.”

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