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    Pocket Neighborhoods

    by Ross Chapin

    Architect Ross Chapin defines a "pocket neighborhood" as a "cohesive cluster of homes gathered around some kind of common ground within a larger surrounding neighborhood" — achieving a small scale at which meaningful neighborly relationships are fostered. Here he discusses a 19th-century precedent for the pocket neighborhood, along with three modern examples. —Editor

    Workingmen's Cottages of Warren Place

    Alfred Tredway White, the son of a wealthy New York importer, built affordable housing for over a thousand working families in Brooklyn in the late 19th century.

    While making house calls to newly settled immigrants in his church district, White experienced firsthand the terrible living conditions of the urban poor. His efforts with housing reform created fireproof brick buildings with sunlit rooms and private toilets (what luxury!), always surrounding a shared green or park.

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    The Workingmen's Cottages of Warren Place, built in 1878, were a cluster of 26 row houses facing a garden mews and flanked by eight end houses.

    Spanning between two parallel streets at mid-block, the formal garden is a semipublic space buffering the private entrances from the street. A second entrance is provided at the rear along a common, undivided walkway in the back. Each row house is just 11 feet (3.4 meters) wide, about 30 feet (nine meters) deep, and three stories tall.   >>>

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    This article is excerpted from Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World by Ross Chapin, copyright © 2011, with permission of the publisher, The Taunton Press.

     

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    Behind each row of townhouses at the Warren Place Workingmen's Cottages, a cobblestone alley — originally for use by delivery carts — has been converted into a shared private garden space.
    Photo: Ross Chapin Extra Large Image

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    SUBSCRIPTION SAMPLE

    The six-room, three-story Warren Place Workingmen's Cottages were built in two rows, on either side of a pedestrian alley. Nine-room, four-story homes, such as the one shown here, anchor the ends of the rows and face the adjacent streets.
    Photo: Ross Chapin Extra Large Image

     

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