LOCATED between West 94th and 95th Streets west of Broadway, Pomander Walk is the only Manhattan thoroughfare named for a stage play. The play – itself named for a London alley – ran briefly in 1910 and starred one Dorothy Parker. This Parker was not the later doyenne of the Algonquin Round Table, though the actress and the writer were contemporaries.
The alley and its row of twenty-seven small town houses were constructed in 1922 and have pretty much stayed unchanged since then. In 1920, nightclub proprietor Thomas Healy acquired the property and built 27 Tudor-style buildings on each side. Healy must have been a fan of the play. He meant to tear down the buildings after a few years and construct a hotel, but this reminder of an earlier age has survived various challenges over the years. Humphrey Bogart and Lillian Gish were once residents.
This is one of those exclusive NYC enclaves I haven’t been able to crack. Years ago, I was able to get into Grove Court in Greenwich Village because I happened to be there (on a blind date, no less) when a resident arrived purely by chance with a key to the gate. That didn’t happen today at Pomander Walk.
Some Pomander Walk residences preserve peculiarities from when they were first constructed, like exterior dumbwaiters. Although all originally were rentals, all Pomander Walk apartments now sell for high Manhattan prices on the lower end. Pomander Walk is open only to residents, but it can be seen from the gate facing West 94th.
Georgetown in Washington, DC also has a Pomander Walk, probably named for this one. It’s not gated, and it’s quite picturesque.
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