living a well tended life... at any age

nyc-etc: hidden gems {explore}

While I do love to eat and shop, no “hidden gems” series would be complete without a few places to explore. Particularly in a dense, crowded and stimulus-overloaded city like New York, a tucked-away oasis seems even more magical.

hidden spots in nyc

I’ve written about a few right here – the room full of dirt in Soho, the hidden beach filled with thousands of glass bottles, and “pocket” parks such as Paley Park and McGraw Hill Park.

And here are a few more!

Pomander Walk
This has to rank as one of my favorite secret spots in New York.

pomander walk

Most New Yorkers and savvy tourists know about Washington Mews in the Village, and Sylvan Terrace in Washington Heights. But Pomander Walk seems to be a bit more under the radar.

Pomander Walk is a tiny street running from 94th to 95th Streets, between Broadway and West End Avenue. New York nightclub operator Thomas Healy acquired the lease for the street in 1920 and commissioned a design of homes that would replicate the stage set of a London play called (yes) “Pomander Walk”. The street is lined on both sides with two-story Tudor-style homes, and does indeed look exactly like a (supremely charming) stage set. Read this New York Times article for more.

Sniffen Court
On the east side of town sits Sniffen Court.

sniffen court

Located on the south side of 36th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues, these pretty much perfectly preserved carriage houses date back to the 1850’s. I loved this Scouting NY article, which is full of history and fun facts – such as The Doors’ “Strange Days” album cover being shot there.

Villa Charlotte Bronte

villa charlotte bronte

Yes, this is in New York. In the Bronx, to be exact.

Basically under my nose, on the route I take to and from the city multiple times a month, it was only a few years ago that I decided to get off the road and seek it out. Built in 1926 by lawyer/developer John McKevey, Villa Charlotte Bronte is one of the most beautiful and unusual dwellings in New York. From Curbed NY:

“Designed in the style of an Italian villa, the buildings contain 17 co-operative apartments, each connected by walkways, staircases and stone arches; there are also architectural flourishes such as protruding bays, balconies, and casement windows. The exterior is made from stucco, featuring brick and stone ornamentation and multi-colored tiled roofs. Each apartment is unique, with each one having a different floor-plan as well as varying views of the Hudson. The complex also contains charming gardens as well as lush vegetation scaling a portion of the building.

Each apartment has its own exterior entrance…..To get to one apartment, you have to go down two flights toward the Hudson, then turn right and go up two flights to the front door. Another front door is behind a small arched grotto. A third is at the end of a thin, high-flying concrete walkway with a skinny iron railing, cantilevered out over a long and nasty drop to the railroad tracks below”. (click here to read the entire article)

Dream House
On the third floor of an inconspicuous apartment building in Tribeca, an art and music installation has been ongoing since 1993. It is the collaboration of visual artist Marian Zazeela and her partner and husband, experimental musician La Monte Young. And it is a most unique experience. After making a suggested donation, removing your shoes and shutting off your phone, you enter a completely white room (walls, carpet, floor cushions) that is colored pink and purple with the artist’s lights. Even the windows are covered by translucent pink screens. And in each corner is a giant speaker, emanating with Young’s music.

mela foundation dream house

image credit

From the website:

“These [speakers] are vibrating with the 32 frequencies of Young’s composition, and though the music itself stays constant no matter how long is spent inside the House, the sound’s relationship to its listeners can change drastically with the slightest movements.

The only time the music remains stable is when the listener is completely still: the low drones culminate in a dense jackhammer cloud as they cross over each other, forming complex rhythms. However, just slight changes in posture completely alter the sound field. Different higher pitches appear as you move your head; by rocking slowly back and forth, you can create a hypnotic two-note melody as the high tones shift and spin dizzyingly. Towards the center of the main room, the drones are thickest and lowest, while around the perimeter of the room the sound tends to be airier, dominated by chattery high-end whine.”

mela foundation dream house

image credit

I was with Chelsea, who wasn’t into it, but I found it to be a strangely soothing and mellow experience. Which, I suppose, is the point. This Thrillist article is a great read; I’d love to know if you’ve been (or if you go!).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little series! Feel free to add anything I may have missed – do you have any hidden gems where you live?

More links:
Beyond-The-Grid Manhattan
13 of the Best Pocket Parks in NYC
Hidden New York: The Best Secret Places in NYC

And all the rest of my favorite haunts!

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