Blogging NYT: Mystery on Fifth Avenue

Blogging NYT: Mystery on Fifth Avenue

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Carrie McBride
Jul 30, 2008

Is the biggest mystery in your house that funky smell in the attic when it rains? When the Klinsky family moved into their 4,200 sq. foot apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York father, Steven, thought it'd be fun to hide a poem he had written for his wife and kids in one of the walls ("put in a bottle and hidden away as if it were a time capsule"). To say their architect, Eric Clough, ran with the idea would be a vast understatement. He created a Da Vinci-like maze of ciphers, codes and puzzles setting the family on a lengthy scavenger hunt around their apartment.

Mr. Clough, unbeknowst to the family, called upon 40 colleagues and friends to create this elaborate mystery for the Klinsky family which only began to be unraveled a year after the family moved in after a piece of their custom-made bed, one of the clues, snapped off and they called Mr. Clough to complain. Soon after, a poem from Mr. Clough arrived setting the hunt, which involved hidden panels, a magnetic cube, a cipher, riddles, and secret writing, in motion.

It took the family two weeks to work through all the puzzles and reveal the hidden poem. They've since moved, but took pleasure in leaving the mystery behind for another family to solve. "You move into a place and you have your life there, and your memories, and it's all temporary," says mom, Maureen Sherry, "Especially with apartments, which have such a fixed footprint. I like the idea of putting something behind a wall to wink at the next inhabitant and to wish them the good life hopefully that you have had there."

Read the full story and view a slideshow of the clues hidden in the Klinsky's apartment here.

While about a thousand times less elaborate, when our parents covered our living room walls with grasspaper a few decades ago they let our sisters and us write on the walls before covering them up. The house remains in the family and the grasspaper remains on the walls, but we sometimes think about another family with children finding our drawings and writings on the walls someday. Have you found or left hidden objects or messages in any homes you've lived in?

(Photos by Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times.)

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