One of the major selling points of my mom’s Upper West Side apartment is the view of the Hudson; if you press your cheek against the glass and stand on your tippy toes, you can see the river!” But even better is the view from the other side of the apartment, which overlooks one of my favorite secret spots in Manhattan: Pomander Walk.
On the 94th Street block from Broadway to West End is a black gate. Beyond it is a staircase, blocking the rest from view. But from above, you can see that there are two rows of bright Tudor-style townhouses, separated by a little private road: a tiny, self-contained cartoon village. It’s amazing.
It turns out the little street was inspired by a 1910 Broadway romantic-comedy of the same name. The playwright, Louis K. Parker, described the scene by writing that “You might have thought the houses were meant to be inhabited by very small dukes, so stately were they in their tiny way.”
Ten years after the play ended its Broadway run, a restaurateur and club owner named Thomas Healy commissioned the firm of King & Campbell to build a set of townhomes and apartments based on the play. The project was meant to bring in enough money for Healy to build a hotel on the property, but he died in 1927 before he could demolish Pomander Walk.
In 1982, the complex was named a New York landmark, and soon after went co-op. Today, the townhouses sell for around $2 million, but the tiny studios for usually less than $400,000.
Pomander Walk, Wikipedia
Streetscapes/Pomander Walk, on the Upper West Side; A Tiny Street Where Interim Became Permanent, New York Times
Pomander Walk, The Broadway League
New York to Have a “Pomander Walk”, New York Times
Hidden Spots of the Upper West Side, I Love the Upper West Side
A Short History of Secret UWS Street Pomander Walk , Curbed NY
A Secret World on the Upper West Side: A Trip Down Pomander Walk, Scouting NY
Designation Report, Riverside-West End Historic District Extension II