business as unusual ii

Two days ago I wrote about how the real estate market’s impact on life at our office building mirrors its impact across America. There’s a second, more intriguing phenomenon going on here at the office. It has to do with mental health. Not mine.

This three-story office building was originally constructed in the late 1950s by Dun & Bradstreet, not as an office building at all, but to house three floors of massive mainframe computers.

When I first opened my resume office here 18 years ago, D&B and the computers were gone, replaced by – I counted them – seventeen small businesses: a jeweler, a tailor, a women’s dress shop, a printing business, an accountant, a New York State legislator’s office, an Allstate Insurance office, a finance company, a pager store and a couple of private offices.

Most of these enterprises are gone now. Retired, put out of business by national chains, or simply moved. But there’s been an emerging professional genre, mental health providers, to fill their spaces. The building now houses: three psychiatrists, a psychotherapist, a family therapist, and a certified social worker. Then there is a second tier of “people helping people” businesses: a chiropractor, two disability consultants, an occupational therapist, and an ophthalmologist.  

So this building has evolved from housing massive information-processing equipment, to walk-in sales and service businesses, to today’s more than 50% appointment-only personal, social and mental health services for individuals.

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