man's feet dangling above a window outside a building

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

by Jack Finney

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How many floors does the hotel have in Jack Finney's "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket"?

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The text of "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" does not say how many floors there were in the building where Tom and his wife lived. It does say, however, that this building is an apartment house and not a hotel. There were many residential hotels in Manhattan at the time the story was published in 1956, but the Benekes had an apartment. Here, for example, is a direct statement:

There was nothing in the apartment long enough to reach that paper.

Here is another:

He heard the sound, felt the blow, felt himself falling forward, and his hand closed on the living-room curtains...

So they have a living-room, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom. We know that their apartment is on the eleventh floor.

Now, balanced easily and firmly, he stood on the ledge outside in the slight, chill breeze, eleven stories above the street, staring into his own lighted apartment, odd and different-seeming now.

There are numerous indications that this is an old building made of bricks. For instance:

His forehead was pressed directly into the corner against the cold bricks

Such a building could not be very tall. The outer brick walls support the structure. High-rise buildings have internal steel skeletons. Anyway, the really tall buildings of Manhattan are almost all office buildings or condominiums. It is likely that the Benekes' building was only twelve or fifteen stories tall at most. Manhattan land has gotten so expensive that no one would put up such a small building in that location today. There are fewer and fewer residential hotels and apartments available in Manhattan, although they used to be plentiful. O. Henry, Nathanael West, Dashiell Hammett, and Cornell Woolrich, among other writers, all lived in residential hotels in Manhattan. John Cheever must have been living in a Manhattan apartment building when he wrote "The Enormous Radio," but like so many other Manhattanites he moved out to the suburbs to escape high rents, crime, noise, congestion, air pollution, and all the other problems created by too many people living in too little space.

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