My walks in Manhattan seem to have a late start. Work and household responsibilities come first but then the ride into the city is always anticipated. I look forward to that walk around the neighborhood. My walk took from 218th Street to 207th Street from 10th Avenue to Inwood Hill Park. Today I started my trip in the late afternoon and started to walk on the other side of Broadway at 218th Street, home to the Columbia Athletic Complex.
As a Cornell Alumnus, I have spent many a day at the Stadium watching the on again off again rivalry between the two schools. In the last six years, I have attended three away games at the Columbia Stadium and I believe we have an even record with them. I have to admit that Cornell’s football record has not been great in the past few years but we as Alumni can still dream of that unbeaten season.
As I walked through the complex watching the Columbia team do its warm up, I have to tell you one thing, Even though our teams sit at the bottom of the Ivy League each year (we’ll get better), over the past three years I have noticed more cheering Cornell Alumni at the games, which our team seems to appreciate. It is funny to go to an away game and there are more people on the Cornell side of the stadium then the home team.
Columbia C at Marble Hill
Walking around the complex brings back many great memories of warm afternoons and the Alumni parade to the Cornell Club. Don’t miss the Lion statue in the middle of the complex. It really is quite a site. Grab an ice cream cone at the ice cream truck that is always parked at the entrance to Inwood Hill Park. His soft serve ice cream is $3.00 plus the chocolate topping, a dollar less than downtown.
On the edge of 218th Street, past of the Columbia Boathouse is the Muscota Marsh (See my reviews on VisitingaMuseum@Worpress.com and TripAdvisor) that overlooks the big ‘C’ on the cliffs in the foreground. This beautiful and relaxing little park can be reached by walking down the hill from the sports complex. It is the only fresh water marsh in the City of New York.
The Muscota Marsh is a one-acre public park adjacent to Inwood Hill Park and located on the shore of the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, which is a section of the Harlem River. Opened in 2014, the marsh has both a freshwater marsh and a salt marsh. Besides attracting plant and animal life, these wetlands are intended to help filter rainwater runoff and this helps to improve the water quality of the river. (Wikipedia).
The benches overlook both the Bronx and cliff views of New Jersey and a small piece of land that juts out from Inwood Hill Park that has a picturesque view in the foreground. It makes a nice walk to stroll amongst the benches and look at the plantings or just sit on a bench on a sunny afternoon and just enjoy the views. It is quiet and relaxing.
Once you leave the marsh, you enter Inwood Hill Park, which offers its own beauty, strolling along the paths and walking through the lawns and woods. You will pass Indian Road Playground at 570 West 218th Street, a small park that is popular with the neighborhood kids. I went to the point of the park that juts into the river and watched a group of teenage boys fishing in the river. Traditions don’t die hard in this city as my grandfather did the same thing in the East River in the early 1900’s.
As you stroll down the path from this spot in the park and continue along the path, you will come across Shorakkopoch Rock, a boulder marking the site where Peter Minuet bought the island of Manhattan from the native Reckgawawang Indians for about 60 guilders of trinkets and beads in 1626 (See VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor). The boulder marks the spot of a giant 280 year old 165 foot tulip tree once stood until it died in 1932. Legend has it that this is the spot of one of the greatest real estate investments took place. It is such an important part of Manhattan history that most tourists miss.
Strolling back to the neighborhood, I walked down 218th Street and admired the homes that line the beginning of Park Terrace and the south side of 217th Street. These gothic looking homes have beautiful features and gardens to admire in the front. Their well-landscaped yards showcase the best in colorful flowers and shrubs that attract both small birds and butterflies. These homes remind us of a time when the neighborhood had a real residential feel to it. This part of Inwood reminds me a lot of Beacon Hill in Boston, with its sloping streets, well tended courtyards and prewar apartment buildings. Its a nice stroll just to pass the buildings and be taken back to a different time in the city.
In the middle of the neighborhood sits Isham Park at Isham Street & Seaman Avenue. This was once part of the Isham family estate that the Isham family had donated to the City during the early part of the 20th Century. It was home to the Isham Mansion of William Bradley Isham. The mansion was torn down in 1940 due to disrepair. Bounded by Seaman Avenue and Broadway, this offers the neighborhood a quieter alternative to the bustling Inwood Hill Park next to it. What a lot of people don’t know is that Park Terrance leading into Isham was the original entrance to the Isham estate.
On this quiet afternoon, residents were reading, playing ball and catching up with their neighbors. It had a real family feel to it. Right off the park sits the Bruce Reynolds Memorial Gardens at 11 Park Avenue. These beautiful, well-landscaped paths were dedicated to Bruce Reynolds, a local resident and a former member of the N.Y. Parks Department and a Port Authority Police Officer who died on 9/11.
Bruce Reynold’s Park in bloom.
Mr. Reynolds had been a big part of the neighborhood clean up of the park and got local youths to help set it up when the gang problem in the neighborhood got to be too much. After time spent in the Parks Department as a ranger, he moved on to become a Port Authority Police Officer (NYParks Department).
These gardens are a legacy of his hard work to maintain this local neighborhood garden. It is a quiet place to sit and relax. The flowers were in full bloom when I visited and the gardens were loaded with bees, butterflies and birds moving along the flowering beds. I also want to note that the members of the community have Saturday potlucks and there are concerts open to the public in the warmer months. It is a pleasant park to sit and relax in.
My walk continued down 207th Street after covering all the roads from 218th Street to 207th Street from Inwood Park to Broadway. I was quite the hike up and down the hills. The neighborhood is surrounded by elegant pre-war housing especially around Park Terrance with its pocket gardens between the buildings. A nice place for the residents to get together and mingle while walking their dogs. 207th Street is mostly residential from the park to Broadway and then gets very commercial from Broadway to the entrance to the University Heights Bridge.
On a bustling summer day, people are out socializing, selling their wares on the sidewalk and there are fantastic street vendors selling everything from shaved ice with syrup, rainbow ices, fresh orange and fruit juice and pastelito’s fried right in front of you. All along this shopping street are reasonably priced stores selling clothing, cell phones and housewares. Here and there you can see some changes in the neighborhood with new restaurants catering to both old and new residents, but for the most part 207th Street is the equivalent to Mott Street in Chinatown except this street caters to the neighborhood’s strong Dominican community.
There are so many great options to eat on the street. D’Lillian Bakery at 526 207th Street has nice baked products and good doughnuts for a $1.00. There are terrific pastelito’s at a small cart on the corner of Sherman and 207th Street that fry theirs right in front of you and you have a choice of chicken, beef, egg and pork for a $1.00. This is one of the best deals and they are sizzling hot. Recommendation: buy two chicken and one beef and a coke with the guy next to them. It is a great walking lunch while exploring both sides of the shopping district. Finish the meal off with a rainbow ice, three scoops for $1.00 at a vendor on the other side of Sherman Avenue. Be prepared to speak your broken Spanish if you are not fluent.
I ended my day at the corner of 207th and 10th Avenue having covered this whole part of Inwood. This is a beautiful, diverse and active neighborhood where everyone seems to get along and look out for one another. Even the vendors look you over as you enter the Number One subway back downtown. I don’t know if they are looking for business or making sure you’re not creating funny business. It’s part of the neighborhood that I wish more tourists would see especially in supporting our Dominican residents.
Places to visit:
Baker Athletic Complex
Robert K. Kraft Field/Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
533 218th Street
New York, NY 10034
Ishham Street & Seaman Avenue 10034
Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden
11 Park Terrace
New York, NY 10034
From Dyckman Street to the Tip of Manhattan
Shorakkopoch Rock & the Native American Indian Caves & Indian Road Playground
New York, NY 10034
575 West 218th Street
New York, NY 10034
The length of 207th Street
“Little Dominica” for shopping
Places to Eat:
D’ Lillian Bakery
526 207th Street
New York, NY 10034