In a building once made famous by singer Sting, pests that don’t sting have taken over: bed bugs! All 21 units at 401-403 W57th Street, at the corner with 9th Avenue — an intersection memorialized by the British singer-songwriter in his 2016 album, 57th and 9th — have been infested by the dreaded insects, according to a new report from real estate portal Rent Betta.

301-403 W57th Street, reported by city authorities to be 100 per cent infected with bed bugs
The building at 401-403 W57th Street, where all 21 apartments were recorded by the Office of Housing Preservation and Development as having bed bugs. Photo: Mary Jane Livingston

It joins 12 other New York City buildings with 10 apartments or more in which every residence reported a bed bug problem to the Office of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). 

The Hell’s Kitchen building, constructed in 1890, last rented a 462-square foot one bedroom, one bathroom apartment for $3,600 a month, with an average rental price of $3,418 a month for one and two-bedroom units. W42ST reached out to a phone number used by the building owners on official documents for a comment on the incident. The person who answered hung up after we identified ourselves. 

Sting 57th and 9th Bed Bugs
Sting couldn’t have known what was happening behind him on the corner of 57th and 9th when he posed for this album cover. Photo composite.

Bed bugs — small, flat, appleseed-sized pests — have tormented New Yorkers for decades, frequently hitching a ride into apartments on luggage, furniture and clothing, where they multiply and bite their unhappy hosts. Bed bugs also have a reputation for making their presence felt in commercial buildings, having previously been found at (among others) the AMC Empire 25 movie theater in Times Square, Bloomingdales, the Niketown, and most recently, the Meatpacking District Reserve Starbucks Roastery. 

New York landlords are legally required to report any bed bug infestations to the HPD, as well as treat the issue within 30 days of discovery. And if you’re moving into a new place, landlords are legally required to disclose any incidents of bed bugs within the past year. 

Bed Bug List

While (rather unsettlingly) you can’t guarantee that bed bugs won’t stage a hostile takeover in your home, there are a few preventative measures that the Health Department recommends. They advise New Yorkers to:

  • Check used furniture before buying.
  • Get rid of clutter to reduce the number of places bed bugs can live.
  • Vacuum often.
  • If you use public or shared laundry areas, carry your laundry in clean bags. Remove your clothes from the dryer and put them directly in the bags. Fold your clothes at home.
  • Seal any cracks or crevices around your home.
  • Place bed bug traps on the legs of bed frames and furniture.
  • Protect mattresses and box springs with bed bug-resistant covers.
An adult bed bug (Cimex lectularius) with the typical flattened oval shape
Bugs like these have been found at 401-403 W57th Street but are long-term new York pests, moving from apartment to apartment on luggage, furniture and clothing Photo: Piotr Naskrecki / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Perhaps most surprisingly, the bed bug’s other enemy is none other than the cockroach, which, when given the chance, will prey on the pest — a New York City horror story if there ever was one. Good luck out there, West Siders — and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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9 Comments

  1. Please do yourself a favor and buy a bed bug mattress protector.
    I’ve lived in buildings in NYC where I was the only one to not get bugs during during an infestation. I had a mattress protector and no one else did. They aren’t that expensive. Just get one and thank me later.

    1. All the mattress protector does is protect the mattress, does nothing to prevent the bed bugs from nesting in another part of your room nearby.

  2. I lived in this unfortunate building way back in the 1980s. Worst time of my life. We had roaches but no bed bugs, thank goodness.

  3. My husband is exterminator and we from Queens and he put bedbugs cover in every mattress and also when he do bedbugs job he put all his clothes in bags before he came home

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