Secret Lives Tours: Pomander Walk and Lotus Garden
Thursday September 6, 2012 2 p.m.
The Secret Lives Tours highlight some of the most original and rarely-seen spaces in New York. The series takes attendees inside unique and spectacular landmarked spaces in the city, both big and small, to learn about their history and preservation.
The small and quaint structures that sit on the block known as Pomander Walk were built in 1921 as place holders for a commercial enterprise that was to be built for the entrepreneur and businessman Thomas Healy. The “Tudor-esque” village was designed by the architectural firm of King and Campbell who were instructed to design a neighborhood that mimicked the scenery used in the Broadway performance of Lewis Parker’s, Pomander Walk. The commercial structures that would have demolished Pomander Walk were never constructed and the neighborhood was designated a Landmark in 1982. ‘The effect obtained,” said an article in the magazine Architecture & Building in 1922, ”is as though a portion of the olden times was transported to the heart of the modern world.” Architect Dan Allen, whose firm Cutsogeorge Tooman and Allen Architects is responsible for the restoration of the block, will talk about the project. (Attendees will not go inside private residences.)
Two blocks away on West 97th Street, perched 20 feet off the ground on a garage rooftop sits the Lotus Garden. This site was once the home of the Riverside and Riviera movie theatres that were demolished in the 1960’s. The lot sat vacant for some time and eventually, the community took over the space, replacing it with what became known as the Broadway Gardens. As real-estate developers contemplated over what to build on the vacant lot, the neighborhood realized that their serene garden would be lost once plans for the site were approved. The community along with several city officials organized a group demanding that Broadway Garden be preserved. The outreach from the community prompted a negotiation between the developers and the residents, leading to the decision to place a garden on the rooftop of the garage which now sits on this site. Lotus Garden is cared for by a number of volunteers and community gardeners who will be guiding us on this special tour.
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