Pomander Walk

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Pomander Walk

Pomander Walk is a micro-neighborhood in the Manhattan section of New York City, located on the Upper West Side between Broadway (New York) and West End Avenue. The "Walk" itself, consisting of sixteen buildings, runs through the middle of the block between 94th Street and 95th Street, with gates at each end. Pomander Walk is a complex that also includes four buildings facing Ninety-fourth St., and another seven facing Ninety-fifth St. running down to West End. Each building originally had one apartment on each floor. In recent years, some buildings have been renovated to serve as single-family homes.

Pomander Walk was built in 1921 by nightclub impresario Thomas J. Healy who planned to build a major hotel on the site. According to city historian Christopher Gray, when Healy was unable to get financing for a hotel, he built the houses that stand on the site today, apparently to provide a temporary cash-flow while he waited to raze them and build a hotel.[1] It was designed by the New York architecture firm King and Campbell.[2] Pomander Walk is a mapped street and a legal address, however, it is so small that many delivery services have difficulty locating it. Therefore, residents have posted the ersatz street address of 265 West 94th Street on the iron gate at the end of the walk. No actual building matches the address.[3]

The neighborhood is named for Pomander Walk—a romantic comedy by Louis N. Parker set on a small imaginary street in Georgian London—that opened in New York in 1910.[1] [4] The place as built bears a only tenuous relationship to the scene described in the play as "a retired crescent of five very small, old-fashioned houses near Chiswick, on the river-bank. ... They are exactly alike: miniature copies of Queen Anne mansions". New York City's Pomander Walk is Tudoresque, a style that enjoyed a vogue in America in the years following World War I.

Past residents, whose addresses can be documented by reverse telephone directories, include Paulette Goddard and Rosalind Russell.

Pomander Walk is startlingly different in style and out of scale with the tall buildings that surround it; Darryl Pinckney called it, "an insertion of incredible whimsy" into the Upper West Side.[5]

Pomander Walk became a New York City Landmark in 1982.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Pomander Walk, on the Upper West Side: A Tiny Street Where Interim Became Permanent", Jan. 16, 2000, New York Times, [1]
  2. A history of housing in New York City: dwelling type and social change in the American metropolis, Richard Plunz, Columbia University Press, 1990, p. 149.
  3. "Searching for New York’s Hidden Places", New York Times, Nov. 25, 2007, [2]
  4. "New York to have a 'Pomander Walk': Street of Little Houses, Lawns, Flowers and Fountains in Shadow of Broadway. Project Thom as Healy's Site at 95th Street, and 28 Two Story Dwellings to Be Ready in September". New York Times, April 19, 1921,.
  5. The company they kept: writers on unforgettable friendships, Robert B. Silvers, Barbara Epstein, New York Review of Books, 2006, p. 135.

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