Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pomander Walk + Shinran Statue

If you find yourself looking for something to see on the Upper West Side, here are three sites worth visiting.
First is Pomander Walk, centered between 94/95th Streets, plus Broadway and West End. This 27-unit apartment complex was built in 1921, in miniature of Queen Anne mansions, and named after the 1910 Louis Parker romantic comedy of the same title.

Very different from what surrounds the area, this slice of Manhattan was supposed to be a standard high-rise hotel, but when nightclub owner Thomas J. Healy couldn't get the permits, he decided to build these quaint homes designed by the New York architecture firm King and Campbell. They were to house a handful of the rich, until he could set up his grand inn.

Luckily for us, Healy never could get that charter, so we can see today what former-resident and novelist Darryl Pinckney called "an insertion of incredible whimsy" into New York City.
While you do have to be a resident to enter the grounds, one can view much of Pomander Walk via either gate, on 94th or 95th Street.
Though landmark status was rejected in 1966, Pomander Walk was finally registered in 1982 when tenants formed a committee to block further development.
Up next, and only a few blocks away is what many call the "Atomic Buddha", the Shinran statue.

Found out front of the New York Buddhist Church, at 332 Riverside Drive, the 15ft (4.5m) bronze statue of Buddhist monk Shinran Shonin (founder of the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism, 1173 - 1263) once stood at a temple in Hiroshima, Japan.
Only a mile-and-a-half (2.5km) from the August 6th blast zone, this beautiful piece of sculptured metal was one of the few things left standing after detonation of the atomic bomb.

In September of 1955, an anonymous Japanese businessman had the Buddhist society ship the statue to New York City as a symbol of lasting world peace. It has stood there since, with the addition of a marble plaque, with full story, added in May of 1985.
Last stop is about a mile north, and, admittedly, only for fans of that tv show about nothing, Seinfeld: Tom's Restaurant.

While called Monk's Café on the show, the exterior (located at 2880 Broadway) was used as a stand-in for the fictional cafeteria on Jerry Seinfeld's sitcom. The interior looks nothing like that on the show, but for true fans, it's a cool sight to see just from the outside.
The restaurant has been owned and operated by the same Greek family since it opened in the 1940s. Before Seinfeld, the restaurant had already inspired Suzanne Vega's 1981 song "Tom's Diner", and was Senator John McCain's favorite place to grab a bite when he visited his daughter at Columbia University.