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I live at 25 West 68th Street. It's an old apartment building. But it's got one of the best elevators in New York City. There are mirrors all around. You can see yourself from every angle. There's a soft, cushioned bench to sit on if you're too tired to stand. (1.3)
The elevator in the Hatchers' apartment is particularly cool and fancy. This is the reader's introduction to life in the big city. You can see that Peter loves where he lives.
My father said he invited Mr. and Mrs. Yarby to stay with us. My mother wanted to know why they couldn't stay at a hotel like most people who come to New York. […] He thought they'd be more comfortable staying with us. My mother said that was about the silliest thing she'd ever heard. (2.2)
You've got to hand it to Peter's mom—she has a good point. Their apartment is a bit crowded for houseguests, especially ones that are such snobs and need so many amenities and peace and quiet. Plus, Fudge lives there and Peter's mom knows what could happen.
But she fixed up Fudge's bedroom for our guests. She put fancy sheets and a brand-new blanket on the hide-a-bed. That's a sofa that opens up into a bed at night. It's in Fudge's room because that used to be our den. (2.3)
We get a feel here for how small their apartment is. When Fudge came along, they converted the den into a bedroom for him.
Right after lunch my mother opened up the dinner table. We don't have a separate dining room. When we have company for dinner we eat in one end of the living room. When Mom finished setting setting the table she put a silver bowl filled with flowers right in the middle. (2.10)
Here's another description of how small their apartment is. But with some ingenuity, Mrs. Hatcher manages to get everything in order—so that it's cozy, comfortable and clean—in time for Mr. and Mrs. Yarbys' visit.
They were leaving for a hotel as soon as breakfast was over.
My father said he understood. That the apartment was too small for so many people. My mother didn't say anything. (2.104-105)
Mr. and Mrs. Yarby don't even last a full 24 hours in the Hatchers' apartment. It's obvious that they're used to a certain degree of luxury and aren't accustomed to kids at all. Mrs. Hatcher knows that it wasn't the size of the apartment that was the real problem. Peter's Dad is just being diplomatic about it.
We live near Central Park. On nice days I like to play there after school. (4.1)
What a lucky kid. Peter and his friends have one of the biggest and best parks in the world to use as their after-school playground. The park even has a zoo. They take full advantage of Central Park, and spend nice days out there playing secret agent. When you live in an apartment, it's great to have outdoor spaces to hang out.
In the fall the leaves turn darker and drop off the trees. Sometimes there are big leaf piles on the ground. It's fun to jump around in them. I never saw bright red, yellow, and orange leaves until the day my father took us for a drive in the country. The reason the leaves don't turn bright colors in New York is the air pollution. (4.10)
Here's a side of New York City that we wouldn't usually think about, but Peter's really familiar with the effects of air pollution. The book was published in 1972, before many laws were passed to protect the environment. Cities are cleaner now and maybe Central Park trees now have bright fall colors.
Then the doorbell rang. It was Mrs. Rudder. She lives in the apartment right under us. She wanted to know what was going on. She said it sounded like her ceiling was about to crash in on her any second. (5.65)
One thing about living in an apartment building is that that other people can hear what the Hatchers are up to. That's certainly the case when Fudge has his birthday party and all the kids start jumping around like maniacs. Some apartment buildings have rules about noise, like you have to have carpeting or cushioned floors to decrease the noise for your neighbors.
We decided to make my apartment the meeting place because I'm the only one of the three of us who's got his own bedroom. (7.1)
Because space is limited when you live in an apartment, Peter is lucky to have his own bedroom. Not all apartments in New York are small; it's just super-expensive to live there so most people make do with less space.
"That's why I need a lock on my door," I said.
"I don't like locks on doors. We're a family. We don't need to lock each other out." (7.76-77)
Mrs. Hatcher's opinion about the chain lock is great in theory, but not so great with a little brother who loves to ruin your possessions.
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