A Touch of Old England in TEANECK

From: The Record, March 14, 1978

On most days, Teaneck is its usual bustling self. Pedestrians move along Cedar Lane, some inspecting the attractive shops and stores, others walking more urgently toward their destinations. Automobiles are numerous, especially on nearby Route 4. But there are two sections of town where movement all but disappears, where the sounds of Main Street are filtered away and replaced by singing birds and occasional shouts from playing children. These children frolic along cozy, winding streets, punctuated with Islands of evergreens, birch trees, and in spring, magnificent azaleas and fragrant magnolias. These spots of greenery, reminiscent of the English countryside, are located In the town's north-west section. The larger of these two spots is known as "The Strand," To the east lies the other section, "Pershing Circle:' a 60-foot wide spot of planting in the center of 27 acres of land. What makes these sections of Teaneck so unique is that the streets depart from the usual grid system and are laid out in circular patterns which create two small distinctive communities not unlike tiny English villages.

In both designs, the street layouts are unusual and the building lots are slightly pie-shaped. This combines to present unanticipated vistas full of strange angles and surprising glimpses of backyards and gardens, creating feelings of informality, friendliness, freedom. The lack of sidewalks and the placement of homes fosters greater contact among neighbors; in effect, communal backyards. A number of the homes even display the peaked roofs and black and white detailing characteristic of 16th century England.

Not many residents seem to know the reasons behind the origin of their attractive neighborhood. But it was in 1925 that a private developer filed plans for Pershing Circle.  Two years later. a second real estate firm applied for approval of The Strand, known then as West Englewood Manor.  The original idea behind creating these plots of curving streets and islands of greenery was to offer more salable lots, pieces of land with a different, more attractive design. In 1932 a public library was even proposed but, for reasons unknown, was never built, " .

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Pershing Circle was constructed. The Strand was fully developed in the period following World War II.  At that time, the average size for lots in these cozy neighborhoods was 100 feet wide by 150 feet deep.

Despite their unusual layout. the neighborhoods present no unusual or chronic problems except one - a wrong turn can place you on a disconcerting, roundabout course. But the stately homes, winding roads and plentiful greenery certainly make it a pleasant place in which to be lost.

 

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