Beyond The Grid Manhattan Pomander Walk

New York Times

Where the ’Hood Is Half-Timbered
June 17, 2012

For a few fortunate people living in Manhattan, home lies on one of a handful of short streets that run for just a block, or two or three at the most. The streets’ histories are invariably rich — some were born as driveways for large gated estates — and their charms quickly reveal themselves to both residents and visitors.

IT has been more than two decades since Natalie Weiss attended college, and more than a decade since she became a real estate broker. But on Pomander Walk, the patch of old England between West 94th and 95th Streets west of Broadway, where she was raised, residents still call her Little Natalie.

The affectionate name reflects a salient quality of Pomander Walk — the closeness its residents tend to feel toward one another. In the case of Ms. Weiss, whose mother still lives in the house to which she moved in the late 1960s, this closeness continues, so much so that when she became engaged, there was no question of where her wedding would take place. “You’re getting married here,” announced her friend Verna Pierce, whom she had known her entire life.

“And it was the most beautiful wedding,” Ms. Weiss said. “I didn’t need a florist. Everyone brought a dish, and the food was better than if it had been catered.” Stanley Clickstein and Priscilla Hurtung, her longtime downstairs neighbors, provided the cake.

The street, lined on each side with eight attached Tudor-style houses, looks just as it did when it was built in 1921 by a developer seeking to replicate the sets from “Pomander Walk,” a romantic comedy that had opened in New York in 1910. Passers-by peering through the locked wrought-iron gates might think they are seeing single-family cottages. But the two-story half-timbered structures, trimmed with bright shutters and fronted by postage-stamp gardens, each contain two apartments. The complex, originally rentals, went co-op in 1984.

Since becoming a broker with Nest Seekers International, Ms. Weiss has sold eight apartments on the walk, where a two-bedroom unit would now go for the mid-$700,000s. And no doubt her vivid memories of growing up there helped make those sales. “Everyone was like surrogate parents,” she said. “And every day when you came home, you felt as if you’d left the city.”

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Natalie Weiss Natalie Weiss