Category Archives: Exploring Washington Heights in Manhattan

Esmeraldo Bakery in Washington Heights

Esmeraldo Bakery 538 West 181st Street New York, NY 10033

Check out Esmeraldo Bakery on MywalkinManhattan.com when I walked Washington Heights.

Esmeraldo Bakery IV

The baked goods here are really good.

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

Esmeraldo Bakery

538 West 181st Street

New York, NY  10033

(212) 543-2250

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-8:00pm

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Esmeraldo-Bakery/111392448895026

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5098947-Reviews-Esmeraldo_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Esmeraldo Bakery is one of my ‘go-to’ spots when I am up in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan. This Dominican bakery is very popular in the neighborhood and is in the middle of the busy shopping district between Broadway and Audubon Avenue along the 181st Street corridor. It has the nicest selection of baked goods and hot and cold snacks to choose from. The one nice thing I love about the bakery is that almost everything is a dollar or around that.

Esmeraldo Bakery.jpg

The cases are full of delicious doughnuts, turnovers and pastries

I have been the bakery on many occasions and have had a chance to ‘munch’ through a lot of the pastries. The Chocolate and Vanilla topped doughnuts ($1.00) are light, fluffy and have a nice chewy consistency. …

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5 Star Estrella Bakery Corporation 3861 Broadway New York, NY 10032

In honor of Small Business Saturday, I am featuring wonderful reasonable restaurants in New York City. Don’t miss the delicious baked goods and empanadas at this bakery! It’s worth the trip uptown.

5 star estrella bakery

The selection of baked goods at 5 Star Estrella Bakery is extensive.

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

5 Star Estrella Bakery Corporation

3861 Broadway

New York, NY  10032

(212) 795-5000

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4416394-Reviews-5_Estrella_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I have been to 5 Star Estrella Bakery Corporation about ten times since my project, “MywalkinManhattan” has taken me to this part of the city. Washington Heights has all sorts of bodega’s and deli’s on every corner of the neighborhood but this one stands out. Everything here is very reasonable and delicious (See my reviews on TripAdvisor).

I have to admit that the baked goods can be a little hard later in the afternoon but the taste is still wonderful. I have had their vanilla and chocolate doughnuts and they are big, puffy rings with a thick layer of icing ($1.25). In the early morning, they have a soft pillowy consistency and in the afternoon, they can be a little harder but still good.

They have wonderful Pastellitos (similar to empanadas) filled…

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The Hamilton Grange, home of Alexander Hamilton

Day Fifty-Four: Walking ‘NoHA’ North of Harlem, Manhattanville and Hamilton Heights North of 125th Street September 6th-10th, 2016.

It has taken several days to walk NoHA (North of Harlem), what ever that means. The realtors in New York get a great joy out of naming areas of the city so that real estate  prices can go up. NoHA is pretty much everything from 155th Street to 125th Street from river to river (that being broken into Hamilton Heights from 145th Street to 125th Street west of St. Nicolas Park and then below 125th until 110th Street is Morningside Heights) and SoHA is everything from 125th Street to 110th Street.

Then on the West Side it is know as the Upper Upper West Side until you hit 96th Street and on the East Side it is Spanish Harlem (that is slowly changing as well) until you hit 96th Street then you’re in Yorkville. The Upper East Side starts traditionally on 86th Street. Don’t forget Manhattanville right above Morningside Heights and below Hamilton Heights. I still think the arty crowd calls it NoHA

Most of my days were spent on the on the west side of CUNY campus, which stretches from 141st Street to 130th Street. St. Nicholas Park sits next to the campus and stretches from 141st Street to 127th Street and pretty much cuts the West Side from the East Side of Harlem. Again like the rest of my walk, this area is in heavy transition because of the college and the investment both the college and the city have made in this area.

When I started the walk in this neighborhood, CUNY was out for the summer but as school started, the areas parks, restaurants and streets bustled with student activity. Many of the streets, especially Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, were beginning to be lined with new bars, restaurants and shops catering to the students and new locals. There is a big difference between the bodega customer and the bar customer as I found out everyone time I entered one.

CUNY II

The Entrance to the CUNY Campus in Hamilton Heights

My first day walking around was extremely humid and not exactly the best day to walk but I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. The biggest issue with this area is that the side streets on the west side of St. Nicholas Park are very hilly, a reminder again that Manhattan was not flat to begin with when they were laying out the grid.  Walking up and down those hills especially by Riverside Park can take a lot out of you. I was a pool of sweat as I finished walking up and down this part of the neighborhood. The nice part of being so close to campus are the numerous number of bodegas in the area. There is a cool drink and a quick snack always close by.

Over a period of four days I covered a lot of territory in the neighborhood. My walk took me from elegant brownstones to some pretty shady areas that I would avoid like the plague. There are just some parts of these neighborhoods that I am sure that the residents avoid.

Most of the streets west of the CUNY campus are very beautiful especially close to the campus, the streets that line Riverside Park and many of the homes that surround Convent Avenue just north of campus. You will find some of the gorgeous townhouses and apartment buildings line the streets of Convert and Nicholas Place with their sandblasted fronts with potted plants and decorations for the upcoming Halloween season. This once exclusive area is becoming exclusive once again.

halloween in Washington Heights

The Brownstone neighborhoods are so beautiful at Halloween

The nice part about the CUNY campus in the summer is that there are not many students on campus during the summer break. I was able to relax on the campus lawn and the security guards left me alone. They probably thought I was a returning student or a Professor on an afternoon break. I was so sweaty and tired from walking all around the campus, I fell asleep for while in one of the chairs that was out on the patio in the middle of campus. During the quiet summer, it is a nice place to relax.

St. Nicholas Park II

St. Nicolas Park just below the CUNY campus

One of the nicest surprises in the area was the Hamilton Grange, the home of Alexander Hamilton and his family during the summer months. Back then, Harlem was the country side for people living and working in lower Manhattan and many wealthy patrons built country homes in this area. He lived here in the summer months with his wife, Elizabeth (nee Schuyler) and their eight children. After his time in the military, he worked as a lawyer in New York City and working for the federal government.

Hamilton Grange

The Hamilton Grange by the CUNY Campus

After his death in 1804 when dueling with Aaron Burr, Elizabeth and her children stayed in the house. Elizabeth had helped start an orphanage among other interests and stayed in the house well into her 80’s. At age 91, she went to live with one of her daughters in Washington DC and died in 1854 at the age of 97. The house had sat neglected into recent times and it was bought by one of the local churches as part of their property. The house has since been moved three times and is still going through a restoration (Wiki and Hamilton Grange History). The grounds were being worked on my volunteers during the time of my visit.

Elizabeth Schuyler

Elizabeth Schuyler, the widow of Alexander Hamilton

I went in on a weekend where the house was open for tours to the public and I got to tour the first floor at my own pace. The bottom level is a history time-line of Hamilton’s life and accomplishments plus information on the house. There is a short movie to see and if you do not know much about Alexander Hamilton’s life, you will learn it here.

Hamilton Grange III

The entrance area of the Hamilton Grange

The upstairs is the only place you can tour and there are only a few rooms to see. The parlor room, dining room and living room are all done in period furnishings and the hallway has been renovated in period look.

Hamilton Grange IV

The Hamilton Grange office area

The whole tour will take about a half hour. Since the musical ‘Hamilton’ came out, the tours have been four fold at the house so take that into consideration when visiting the Grange. It is located at 414 West 141st Street.

Hamilton Grange II

Hamilton Grange Living Room

The house is located at the very tip of St. Nichols Park right next to the CUNY campus. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of the students sunning themselves in the park while you are there. Be sure to take your time touring the homes along Hamilton Terrace and Convent Avenue. There are some beautiful brownstones to look at around the Grange.

Touring in St. Nichols Park is interesting. The summer students used the hills on the side of campus to sun themselves, read, do homework and converse with their friends and classmates while the neighborhood kids played basketball and hung out. It was a real hodgepodge of people in the park the many afternoons that I was there. Between Jackie Robinson Park and St. Nichols Park, I don’t see the local college students too intimidated by the surrounding neighborhood.

St. Nicholas Park

The St. Nicholas Park hill where students like to hang out

They seem to be spreading out into it. One thing not to miss is the old Croton Aqueduct which has been turned into the Harlem Stage at the Gate House at 150 Convent Avenue at 135th Street. This beautiful building was built between 1884-1890 and is now a theater. This used to regulate the amount of water flowing underground. The little park surrounding it is nice for a break as well.

Croton Aqueduct Building

The Croton Aqueduct building at 150 Convent Avenue

The lower sections of the park and the college give way to a fast gentrifying neighborhood where many seniors hang out on benches outside the park and talk while the summer students entertain their family and friends in many of the new restaurants lining Amsterdam Avenue. On a warm summer night, there are a lot of people conversing in the outdoor cafes. This area is extremely hilly so take plenty of time to walk up and down the hills. Most of this section between Broadway and the river, you will be walking up and down the roads and will get a big work out.

As you west of the campus toward the river, most of the blocks west of Broadway are lined with elegant pre-war apartment buildings whose residents are a cross section of Hispanic families, young Yuppie couples and depending on the block, older couples who like to walk their dogs. These buildings lining Riverside Park like everything else in this part of the city are under scaffolding and some in the process of sandblasting. The closer you get to Riverside Park and to Columbia University, the nicer it gets.

One great stop for a snack is Las Americas Bakery on the corner of 136th Street and Broadway right by the subway station (See review on TripAdvisor). The guava flips, apple turnovers and doughnuts are really good and are only $2.00. Load up on carbs here for your walk and remember the bottled water.

Las Americas Bakery

Las Americas Bakery was at 3362 Broadway (closed 2019)

When you reach 125th Street on this side of Manhattan, it really becomes the tale of two cities as Columbia University starts to dominate this side of the island. The new extension of the campus is being built between 125th Street and 133rd Street, west of Broadway to the river. This is all across from a major housing project. These glossy new buildings give an entirely new look to the area and the irony is that the famous Cotton Club which sits on a island between 125th and 129th on the break in the street grid, sits isolated now with the campus being built around it. There is a Dinosaur Barbecue restaurant next door and a Fairway supermarket up the road. 12th Avenue is lined with new restaurants and bars and the city has renovated this part of the park.

Cotton Club

The Cotton Club is in a obscure spot under the subway

West Harlem Pier Park offers the most spectacular views of New Jersey and the extension of Riverside Park that lies ahead. On a sunny warm day, it is a great place to relax and enjoy the view. Many residents and students alike are biking, sunning themselves, fishing or just sitting enjoying the amazing view on a sunny day. The park has been replanted with paths and places to sit and look at the river. It will be even more utilized once the new college buildings open up.

Harlem Pier Park

Harlem Pier Park is at the end of 125th Street next to the new Columbia campus extension

The area across Broadway is one of the larger housing complexes and seems to be going though it s own renovations. The Manhattanville Houses dominate around from 133rd Street to the 126th and 127th grid that changes above 125th Street. The streets do get a little choppy in this area and skip around due to the projects that dominate in this area. Just do yourself a favor and avoid Old Broadway between 133rd and 131st Street at night. It is a little shady after twilight with too many places to hid.

Manhattan Houses

The Manhattanville Houses sit in a quickly changing area

This side of Amsterdam Avenue is going through its own type of renovation as warehouses are becoming loft and studios and many of the old time businesses along this stretch of 125th, 126th and 127th are starting to change hands and many chain stores are moving in. It so weird to see an IHOP right next to the projects but it is a reasonable restaurant and the neighborhood deserves to have the same comforts as the rest of the city.

The longest part of this part of the walk was the walk back and forth on 125th, 126th and 127th Streets.  Going back and forth from one side of the island to another takes a lot of time and be prepared for not just a walk but a big transition in neighborhood in just a few blocks.

CUNY and Columbia Universities are having their presence known in the blocks between Amsterdam to Fredrick Douglas Boulevard between 131st to 125th Streets. Most of the apartment buildings that I saw at afternoon time had anxious students running out the doors. 126th and 127th Streets between 7th Avenue and Park Avenue are mostly lined with old brownstones which are quickly getting scooped up and renovated. This was one of the nicest surprises as the brownstones are very elegant.  This neighborhood I noticed is a very mixed neighborhood of white and black residents that seem to look out for one another.

As I walked these many blocks, I would see residents conversing with one another and stop to watch me walk by as if to say ‘what are you doing here’? I see that a lot in this area of the city. Most of the homes have been sandblasted and were being decorated for the fall. In between many of the homes, new smaller apartment buildings are being tucked in between and look quite expensive. Here and there, there are brownstones that have not been fixed up yet but give them time as the middle class residents in this part of the neighborhood don’t look like they would stand for it. They won’t stay that way long.

The scariest part of the neighborhood is the area from Lexington Avenue between 131st Street to 125th Street surrounded on all side by the Harlem River. This area is mostly commercial with two bus depots, a health orientated building going up and a dealership. The walking on sidewalks in this area is awkward with not much places to cross. Projects dominate between Park and Lexington Avenues and as I walked the short blocks by the parks, I really stood out with many residents looking me over as I walked up Lexington Avenue, walking over the 3rd Avenue Bridge and looking over the kids playing soccer and football.

Even though there are loads of kids in these parks after school and parents are all over place, I would give you a safe bet to avoid this small corner of the city at any other time of the day. I walked down 128th Street to 7th Avenue and then crossed over to 129th Street to walk through the Saint Nichols Houses to get back to Fredrick Douglas Boulevard.

St. Nicholas Houses

St. Nicholas Houses

It was a very busy evening with people coming home from work and families yelling at one another. The saddest thing I saw was a small group of brownstones sitting across from a school on the project property, sitting empty and falling apart. The poor things looked sad as I don’t know how many people would want to buy a dilapidated brownstone across from a busy school. I rounded the small blocks of 129th, 128th and 127th Streets that lie between Fredrick Douglas Boulevard and the park.

The weird juxtapose of this area is that new hip restaurants are opening in this area right across from the projects and these homes again seem to be dominated by a mix of locals and college students. I cut though the park on a hilly path  on 128th Street to finish walking 128th, 129th and 130th Streets below the campus. Be prepared to be long winded after this part of the walk as you are going up and down hills. This section was my best work out since the streets by Riverside Park. This area gives you the perspective that Manhattan is definitely not flat.  Also, when walking down the stairs on 129th Street by the warehouses, plan to do this during the day. Again not a great area to walk alone at twilight. As I said before, most people left me alone but kept looking me over.

My last stop of the evening was dinner at Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant at 328 Malcolm X Boulevard. This meant walking from the hills of 128th Street down to 126th Street and crossing over to 125th Street. That alone was a long walk.

Sylvia's Soul Food II

Sylvia’s at 328 Malcolm X Boulevard

I was not thrilled by the food as much as  I was by Charles Southern Fried Chicken or Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread. Maybe it was the sheer exhaustion I felt from all the walking or when I was finally able to relax or the pitcher of the overly sweet iced tea but by the time I got my food, I was feeling nauseous. I had ordered the Fried Chicken Dinner which was two pieces of white meat with mac & cheese and candied yams on the side. It just didn’t strike me as being as good as the other restaurants in the area. I remember on of my professors who took us on a tour here years ago saying it had gotten very commercial. I could see why.

Sylvia's Soul Food

The chicken dinners at Sylvia’s are over-rated or I just hit a bad night

Most of the clientele that night was white and mostly touristy looking people who could not get into the very busy Red Rooster down the road. The Fried chicken was crisp on the outside and chewy and dry on the inside. The candied yams and mac & cheese tasted like it had been made in batches and were warmed up. It’s not that it wasn’t good but I expected more from it. The food was average.

What it lacked in the quality of food, it made up in service as the waitress handled the whole room by herself and could not have been more professional and friendly (see review on TripAdvisor). Needless to say that the manager of Sylvia’s was not the happiest with my review. Oh well, it was an experience anyway. I had wanted to try the restaurant for years.

Overall, this area of the city will take you through a real difference in neighborhood sites, from projects to brownstones from historical through commercial. Sometimes right next to one another. Like any place else in the city, it is going though the ‘change’ and won’t stay the same for very long. You can see the transition going on around you.

Just be prepared to walk up and down hills.

 

Places to Visit:

 

St. Nicolas Park

St. Nicholas Avenue and St. Nicholas Terrace

New York, NY  10030

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-nicholas-park

Open: 6:00am-10:00pm

 

West Harlem Piers Park

Marginal Street and East 132nd Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/west-harlem-piers

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-1:00am

 

The Hamilton Grange

414 West 141st Street

New York, NY  10031

(646) 548-2310

http://www.nps.gov/hagr

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday-9:00am-5:00pm/Closed Monday-Tuesday

Fee: Donation

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105813-Reviews-Hamilton_Grange_National_Memorial-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/20

 

Places to Eat:

Las Americas Bakery (now closed)

3362 Broadway

New York, NY  10031

(212) 234-7715

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4986794-Reviews-Las_Americas_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Sylvia’s Soul  Food

328 Malcolm X Boulevard

New York, NY

212-996-0660

Home

Menus

Open: Sunday 11:00am-8:00pm/Monday & Tuesday 11:00am-10:30pm/Wednesday-Saturday 9:00am-10:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426044-Reviews-Sylvia_s_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Invisible Man Sculpture in Riverside Park

Day Forty-Nine: Walking Riverside Drive from 86th Street to 155th Streets July 10, 2016

I went to the Museum of Natural History this morning for a walking tour called “The History of Sharks” that took us through several galleries as the tour guide explained the history of sharks from pre-historic times to present day. How we live with sharks, how their DNA developed over the years and a discussion on the famous attacks on the New Jersey shore in 1916 to the movie ‘Jaws’.

American Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History

The museum runs these special tours for members and it was nice to explore the museum as a small group. Their volunteers do a wonderful job explaining things and the museum, in anticipation of a major rainstorm that never happened, was packed to the gills. I never see it that busy.

After my visit to the museum, I decided to take a walk up Riverside Drive. It was such a beautiful day with no sign of rain coming, I walked the length of Riverside Drive from 86th Street to 155th Street, crossed over 155th Street to St. Nicholas Avenue and walked down the street to 145th Street to get a better look at the brownstones and mansions and then back up to 155th Street and back down the other side of Riverside Drive to 110th Street and across to the subway station the corner of Central Park. This part of the walk took me past many historical sites and statues, past pocket parks and mansions and the beauty of Riverside Park.

First there is nothing like walking around the west side of Manhattan along Riverside Park. It is a truly wonderful park with people jogging, biking, sunbathing and picnicking. Everyone was really enjoying this clear, sunny Summer afternoon. On a quiet Sunday, the park is mostly yours depending on where you are walking.

All along the way uptown, Riverside Park and Drive are lined with many memorials and statues. I was amazed on many were in the area of the drive. My first stop along the way was the Soldiers’ & Sailors’Monument at West 89th Street that was dedicated to the Union Army soldiers and sailors who contributed in the American Civil War. This structure was completed in 1902 and President Theodore Roosevelt presided over the opening. A very impressive structure that I can see most people miss.  Part of the structure is still in disrepair but you can still walk around the pillared structure and gaze at its beauty.

Soldier and Sailor Monument.png

Soldier’s & Sailors Monument

I took a turn and swung into Riverside Park to visit a small playground and a very lively birthday party. I dropped into Hippo Park at 91st Street, a lively little playground with tons of kids running around, climbing on playground structures and actually acting like kids. I see far too many children obsessed with the cell phones not paying attention to what is going on around them. The kids were obviously having fun while the parents handed out food and gossiped amongst themselves.

Hippo Park is part of the Riverside Park Conservatory and run by volunteers in the neighborhood that also provides entertainment during the summer with outdoor concerts and a newly renovated playhouse for parties. Check out their website for details.

Hippo Park

Hippo Park

The next monument that I passed was the Firemen’s Memorial at 100th Street and Riverside Drive. This is a very quiet and relaxing sculpture that is dedicated to the members of the Fire Department who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This sculpture was dedicated in 1913 and has been renovated a few times since. During the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001, this became a vigil site for those morning the loss of so many members of the FDNY. This stop is a must for all fire fighters.

Firemen's Memorial Riverside Park

Firemen’s Memorial

My next stop was at the Franz Sigel Statue at West 106th Street. The majestic statue of a Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War. He encouraged many then German-Americans to fight for the Union. After the war, he became a proud New Yorker. This small park faced Riverside Drive on the other side of the street.

Franz Sigel Statue

Franz Sigel Statue

As I continued the walk up further, the monuments continued with the statue of Samuel Tilden, a former Governor of New York located at West 112th Street. Tilden’s career was illustrious with fights  against the Tweed stronghold in NYC and some saying that he had the Presidential election stolen from him with the Electoral College by Rutherford Hayes. His large estate and book collection helped found the New York Public Library.

Samuel Tilden Statue.jpg

Samuel Tilden Statue

I finally made it to one of my goals for the day, Grant’s Tomb (see the reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), the final resting place of our 18th President Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia. This monument has had a love-hate relationship with the city. The President died of throat cancer in 1885 and his wife recommended that his burial place be in New York City over West Point and Washington DC as President Grant and his wife made this their home for the last years of their life.

Grant's Tomb.png

Grant’s Tomb

The monument was finished in 1897 and the President’s remains were moved here before the dedication. His wife died in 1902 and was buried along side her husband.  In 1958, the National Park Service took the monument over and was given a small budget to oversee it.  In the 70’s and 80’s as the city had declined, this part of the park was a mess and the monument was vandalized to the hilt. It had gotten so bad at one point where the descendants of the family threatened to pull the bodies out of the tomb because of neglect. Since the 90’s, the monument and the park have been restored and it is open to the public for limited times during the week.

The park now is used for picnicking and parties as many were going on as I walked through the park. The tomb itself was closed for the day and was fenced off to the public. Not a good sign for the parks system for such an important piece of the city’s history.

Off to the side of the monument,  inside Riverside Park next to the path, is the Amiable Child Memorial (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com), the resting place to St. Clair Pollock. This touching little monument is dedicated to a child who died in 1797 in the fifth year of his life from a fall from the cliffs somewhere in the current park. It is one of the private graves located on public land. This small stone funeral urn is on a pedestal marking the grave. It is a very touching grave to a small child. I left a coin there as many have in the past.

Tomb of the Amiable Child

Tomb of the Amicable Child

I continued the walk up through the park until I hit Riverbank Park on 145th Street, one of the unique parks I have ever seen. The 28 acre park is built on the top of a water treatment plant that was inspired by parks built on roof tops in Japan. This park has everything. It has a pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, soccer field, baseball field, a cool off fountain and ice skating rink. It has it all and has the neighborhood embraced this park. The place was packed in all venues. It was a truly democratic park as all races play here.

I was most impressed by the number of families having parties and barbecues in the park. There must have been about a dozen birthday parties going on at once. The smells of barbecue meats and vegetables wafted in the air and the sounds of laughter and singing was all over the place. Even on a hot day, nothing stops people from having a good time.

I was most impressed by the Snack Bar located in the park’s main building. For $6.00, I got a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke and for a park snack bar they were really good. The portion size was generous and I can tell you for fact that the fries are excellent. Even if you don’t like sports make a special trip to snack bar and you won’t be disappointed. (See review on TripAdvisor)

After a 45 minute detour of this amazing park, I walked the rest of the way through Riverside Park until I hit Trinity Cemetery again and crossed 155th Street to St. Nichols Avenue again. I wanted to take a better look at the mansions at 150th Street in Sugar Hill. This section of Sugar Hill I did not have time to take a good look at the last time I was walking St. Nichols Avenue.

Sugar Hill neighborhood in Harlem
The Sugar Hill section is located in the Harlem neighborhood.

Sugar Hill Brownstones

The homes and brownstones in this area are just gorgeous and give you a totally different prospective of Harlem. Most of these buildings have been sandblasted and restored or in the process of being done. The mansions on the corner of 150th Street and Edgecomb Avenue hark back to a time when this was a very fashionable avenue and don’t miss the Bailey House that is fully restored.

I took a pit stop and stopped for a quick slice of pizza on 145th Street at Victorio’s Pizza Plus at 348 West 145th Street and one of the best slices of pizza I have ever had for $1.00. The pie had just come out of the oven and it was a thin crust made with fresh mozzarella and it was heavenly. Flavorful sauce and the right amount of cheese that was cooked perfectly at any price the pizza was delicious. This is a must for all the CUNY students. (See TripAdvisor review)

The walk took me back across 155th Street and back down Riverside Drive. The park, even at twilight is busy. There were so many bikers, joggers and walkers that you had to move a lot on the sidewalks. My last structure I saw as I walked down Riverside Drive was the Ralph Ellison art piece “Invisible Man” (the picture above) done by sculpture Elizabeth Catlett at 150th Street. Ms. Catlett was a artist who themes were the struggles of the Black experience with race and feminism. Her work was influences by Primitivism and Cubism (Art.net).

It was dedicated to the novelist work on his book “The Invisible Man” about his experience as a Black man during the Civil Rights Movement in NYC. Ralph Ellison lived in the area before he died in 1994. It really is quite the statue.

Invisible Man

Invisible Man Sculpture Riverside Park

Elizabeth Catlett artist

Elizabeth Catlett, artist

http://www.artnet.com/artists/elizabeth-catlett/

As I passed Grant’s Tomb, there were about three parties going on in the park. I don’t think the President even partied that much in one evening when he lived in the city. I could not believe that the park around the tomb would be this busy at eight at night. There were colorful lights all over the trees and a grill going.

I got to 110th Street around 8:30pm and as I rounded Riverside Drive to 110th Street the neighborhood which had been on the fringe for many years has completely changed. The area by Riverside Park had always been nice but as I walked further down the street this area has been sandblasted and rebuilt. Many parts of uptown that had been ignored for years look more like the Upper East Side.

I even saw people walking into Morningside Park which when I was working in the city in the 90’s was a death trap that you would not walk anywhere near but like the rest of the parks like Tompkins Square in the Lower East Side and Bryant Park behind the main library time has passed and they have been fixed up, cleaned up and the area around them now is priced higher.

Morningside Park

Morningside Park

My last stop of the evening was Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too at 366 West 110 Street. This neighborhood staple has been around for years and in a much gentrifying neighborhood that seems to be getting away from its Harlem roots. I hope owns the building. The food and service were just excellent. The biggest problem I had with the restaurant is that I over thought how hungry I was that night. After a big lunch at 5:00pm and a slice of pizza by the time the food came I was barely hungry.

Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too

MIss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too at 366 West 110th Street

Miss Mamie’s is not to be missed. They had a dinner special that was $19.99 for a salad that was one of the best restaurant salads I had had in years. It was crisp with fresh lettuce and tomatoes with a light dressing, for the entrée was freshly fried chicken that was crisp on the outside and moist on the inside and the chicken had so much flavor to it. I had it with mac and cheese and candied yams, not the most healthy choices but after a five mile walk I figured I had burned off a few calories. It was so much food that I had to take half of it home with me along with the Peach Cobbler dessert that was included in the meal (See the review on TripAdvisor).

Miss Mamie's Spoonbread

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too

The service was friendly with out being overwhelming. I must give off certain vibes in this neighborhood because the waitress asked me if I was a lecturer for Columbia. I laughed at the one and asked why. She said I looked smart. I don’t know what looking smart is but I took it as a compliment. Usually above 110th Street every assumes that I am either a cop or DEA. Amazing what being tall is to people.

I ended the evening totally exhausted and took the subway from the 110th Street and Central Park West. Another sign of changes in the neighborhood is that I saw people jogging into the northern park of Central Park at 9:30pm. Things have really changed up here.

 

Places to Visit:

Hippo Park Conservatory

West 91st and Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10025

(212) 870-3070

https://riversideparknyc.org/groups/hippo-playground/

 

Riverbank Park

679 Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10031

(212) 694-3600

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riverside-park

https://parks.ny.gov/parks/93/details.aspx

Reviews on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d565030-Reviews-Riverbank_State_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

General Grant’s National Memorial (Grant’s Tomb)

122nd Street & Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10027

https://www.nps.gov/gegr/index.htm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105812-Reviews-General_Grant_National_Memorial-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My Review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1354

 

Tomb of the Amicable Child

524 Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10027

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riversidepark/monuments/1206

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/630

 

Various Statues along Riverside Drive

See Riverside Park Memorials NYCParks.com

https://riversideparknyc.org/event/monuments-tour/

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riverside-park/monuments

 

Places to Eat:

 

Victorio’s Pizza Plus

348 West 145th Street

New York, NY  10039

(212) 283-2100

https://www.victoriospizzaplusmenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10539122-Reviews-Victorio_s_Pizza_Plus-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread

366 West 110th Street

New York, NY  10039

https://spoonbreadinc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426019-Reviews-Miss_Mamie_s_Spoonbread_Too-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Riverbank Park Snack Bar

679 Riverside Drive

Riverbank Park at West 145th Street

New York, NY  10031

https://parks.ny.gov/parks/93

Check their website for hours and days

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d565030-Reviews-Riverbank_State_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

 

 

 

The Hope Steven Garden in Harlem

Day Forty-Four: Walking in Harlem on Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway from 155th to 125th Streets June 9, 2016

I finally crossed the border of Washington Heights into Harlem and I can tell you that border does make a difference in the neighborhoods. Not in a bad way it just seemed to me that there is a different personality to the neighborhood.

I started my walk at the 168th Street subway station and walked down to Amsterdam and 155th Street. In a period of barely a year (six months for that matter), I have seen a whole bunch of businesses close their doors, scaffolding all over buildings both in Washington Heights and Harlem and a rebirth to the area around the CUNY campus. I had even taken walking tours of Harlem as little as eight years ago and have seen a huge change in the area since Mayor Bloomberg rezoned the city. 125th Street is going through a big makeover as the chain stores seem to be taking over the street.

I started my walk in the Trinity Church Cemetery with a visit to my favorite New York Mayor, Ed Koch. He brought so much positive change to New York and was New York in the late 70’s and 80’s. Mayor Koch was still mayor when I came back to work in the city in the 80’s. New York was going through its first wave of gentrification at the time. I had even sent him a copy of my book, ‘Firehouse 101’ of which his office sent a nice not too generic form letter to me thanking me for the book. As far as I know I do not know if he ever read the copy I sent him.

Trinity Church Cemetery

Trinity Cemetery at 770 Riverside Drive

Still there I was sitting on a bench on a small hill over-looking Amsterdam Avenue paying my respects. It was a quiet moment until school let and then there were kids yelling and screaming all over the place. I then decided to start the rest of the walk. I said my goodbyes to the Mayor, placed a rock on the tombstone and started out of the cemetery and down Amsterdam Avenue.

ed koch grave.jpg

Ed Koch grave site at Trinity Cemetery

My travels today took me down Amsterdam Avenue from 155th Street to 125th Street as my border and then I walked the entire length of 125th Street from the Hudson River to the East River. Then it was back up Amsterdam Avenue to 155th Street and then the walk down Broadway. Needless to say, the journey was long but full of surprises.

Amsterdam Avenue is a street in major transition. It also depends on what part you walk. As you get closer to the CUNY campus around 138th Street the are starts to get even better with small, trendy restaurants and pre-war buildings with sandblasted fronts and new windows. The crowd is certainly getting younger with a lot of students and their parents milling around the street.

One little gem to walk around if it is open is the Hope Stevens Garden at 505 West 142nd Street. The garden was in full bloom but unfortunately the gates were locked at the time.

In 1986, the Hope Steven Community Garden (then known as the West Harlem Group Assistance Garden) was selected to participate in Artists in the Gardens, a project of Green Thumb, the community gardening program sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. From a roster of artists chosen by a panel of art professionals, the gardeners selected Eva Cockcroft to paint a mural on the building facing their garden. In 1998, the garden was sold by the City of New York to the Trust for Public Land for eventual transfer to the newly formed Manhattan Land Trust, thus ensuring its preservation. (Harlem One Stop)

Hope Steven Garden

Hope Stevens Garden at 505 West 142nd Street near Amsterdam Avenue

If you get a chance to walk into the garden when it is open it looks like a real treat. The flowers are all in bloom and the bed showcases a colorful assortment of plants.

I stopped a little snack shop, The One Stop Patty Shop at 1708 Amsterdam Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor). This delightful little shop has the best Jamaican meat patties. The spicy beef patty that I munched on as I walked down the road had just come out of the oven. It was flaky, filled with a generous portion of spicy beef and was a nice size patty. It more than filled me up for a quick lunch. The service was really friendly and the staff there takes a lot of pride in their food. The guy was encouraging me to buy more for my trip home. (see my review on TripAdvisor)

One Stop Patty Shop

One Stop Patty Shop at 1708 Amsterdam Avenue

My trip took me past of the campus of CUNY where a very active student body was milling around the campus, in the park across the street and eating in the new outdoor cafes that are now dotting Amsterdam Avenue by the campus at 138th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The campus was a buzz with students socializing and just enjoying a sunny day. There are some interesting restaurants to investigate in the future.

Before I continued down the street, I took a turn on 145th Street to Broadway to try my dining destination for the evening, Handpulled Noodles. It was further up the street but I discovered Grullon II Bakery at 3522 Broadway (see review on TripAdvisor). A nice selection of baked goods and traditional Dominican snacks like Pastilitos and croquets. Most of the items had been sitting most of the day. The vanilla iced doughnut I had looked really good but was hard and the hot snacks looked dried out. It was obvious that the store had not seen too much action that day. It warrants another try though as the service was attentive and friendly and the selection of baked goods looks good.

Grullon Bakery

Grullon II at 3522 Broadway

The lower part of Amsterdam Avenue was a collection of public housing and a warehouse district that was transformed into lofts, studios and a few art galleries. What was interesting was that in the middle of a housing project was that a developer was building a mixed use building with luxury apartments. That is going to be an interesting mix of people.

From Amsterdam Avenue, I walked the entire length of 125th Street, considered the heart of Harlem, that since the Bloomberg zoning changes is under the biggest transformation since Times Square was completely knocked down. By the time the transformation is complete, it will more chain stores, hotels, office buildings and the northern branch of Columbia University.

When I walked to the right down 125th Street, most of the former cheaper stores were in the process of closing down and being replaced by new businesses. The controversial new section of Columbia University is being built, replacing some old buildings with sleek new towers. Once done it will be a very impressive campus of glass, steel and new gardens. It will bring a whole new resident to this part of Harlem.

What I thought was progressive was that the campus was surrounding the famous Cotton Club nightclub that sat there in the middle of all this change. It looked totally out of place with a modern campus being built around it and a Dinosaur Barbecue restaurant catering to the college students a block down. Surreal was not the word for it as if anyone from the 20’s walked down this block now would not know where there were in Manhattan. The club was preparing for a show and I saw the performers passing by groups of college students on their way to Riverside Park and the surrounding restaurants.

 

The Cotton Club has a very interesting past as this is the third Cotton Club in the history of the club. It open in 1920 by Jack Jones, the heavyweight boxing champion as the Club Deluxe. In 1923, bootlegger, Owney Madden bought the club and renamed it the Cotton Club, with a ‘whites only’ policy that lasted until the club closed in 1936. The club has had two other locations and the current club in the present location opened in 1977 (Wiki).

Cotton Club

Cotton Club in Harlem

I passed the projects on the way back down 125th Street where a woman passed me and made a comment under her breathe with a few four letter words enough where she knew I could hear her on her thoughts about policemen. I guess more and more I am realizing that everyone in this part of Manhattan thinks I am a cop or DEA. I remember how fast the drug dealers in the Dykman House projects ran when they saw me coming.

I had taken a recent walking tour of Harlem with the Cornell Club and we covered the areas from 125th Street to 124th Street from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue and how some of the residents did not appreciate being treated like a curiosity by tourists. Now there are so many white residents in the area and visiting tourists eating in the restaurants that you blend right in.

Be prepared thought more culture shocks as there is a Red Lobster and a Banana Republic on either side of the Apollo Theater and there is a mall like environment between Fredrick Douglas Boulevard and 5th Avenue that will one day be a suburban strip mall environment. It reminds me of the changes going on in downtown Brooklyn as everything is being replaced by chain stores. The local businesses that give it the character of the neighborhood are being pushed out.

The Apollo Theater was built in 1913-14 by architect George Keister in a neo-classical style and opened as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater with a ‘white’s only’ policy which existed until the 1930’s when it reopened in 1934. It was then open to black patrons as well with a mixture of entertainment.

Apollo Theater

Apollo Theater 253 West 125th Street

I passed the famous Hotel Theresa which is now called Theresa Towers. When built in 1912-1913 by German-born stockbroker, Gustavus Sidenberg and it was ‘the’ hotel in Harlem and all the famous black celebrities stayed when they could not stay in the luxury hotels of midtown (Wiki).

Today it has been refitted as an office building with commercial businesses. The building has seen better days but is still impressive and maybe one day someone will get the good idea to convert it back into a hotel like the renovation and reopening of the Hotel Knickerbocker in Times Square. It is an ideal place for a good hotel in the midst of all this change. The building itself has seen better days but like the rest of Harlem it will be catching up to the rest of the city soon.

Hotel Theresa

Hotel Theresa in Harlem 2600-2700 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard

As I walked towards the East River, most of 125th Street is in the process of being either knocked down and renovated. In not even two years, the whole makeup of this area will change as more chain stores and apartment buildings are added to the area. I still can’t believe how run down parts of this area are in comparison to the rest of the city.

The worst is that it is tough to find a public bathroom anywhere in the area. I stopped by a library on 125th Street and there was no public bathroom anywhere in the building. Even the libraries in Washington Heights had bathrooms. I had to hold it in until I found a McDonald’s closer to the Washington Heights border.

My last part of the walk took me back down 125th Street to the Studio Museum at 144 West 125th Street (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) in Harlem where my next walk in the area will include a tour of some of the exhibitions and tours of some of the smaller museums in the area. I passed so many galleries that I wanted to stop in as well.

The Studio Museum of Harlem opened in 1968 to showcase Black artists. The museum is currently closed for construction.

Studio Museum of Harlem.jpg

Studio Museum of Harlem at 144 West 125th Street

The CUNY campus had quieted down for the day as I walked back up and the students and their friends filled the parks and restaurants in the area enjoying the warm Spring night.

CUNY

CUNY Campus

I got back up to 155th Street, turned the corner and proceeded down Broadway to my dinner destination Handpulled Noodles at 3600 Broadway (see review on TripAdvisor), which bills itself as Northwestern Chinese Soul Food which attracts not only the locals but students and tourists as well. It is considered by many in the Asian community as one of the best Chinese restaurants in New York City.

It is a small hole in the wall restaurant with limited seating in a very energetic environment. The place was loaded with CUNY students who knew the menu by hard. I had the Spicy Cumin Lamb with Lagman noodles (traditional thick cut noodles that are native to Northern China) and their jumbo pork and chive dumplings that melt in your mouth and are out of this world.

Handpulled Noodles

Handpulled Noodle at 3600 Broadway

The lamb was very spicy and you could taste the cumin in every bite. This is not the traditional Cantonese restaurant so do not look for fried rice and egg rolls. It is more of a cross between Indian and Mongolian cooking. There menu is very unusual with more stew like dishes like the cumin lamb, ginger chicken and herbal beef. The service is friendly and very fast paced to keep up with the large dinner crowds in such a small space. (see my review on TripAdvisor)

I had a interesting talk with someone from the neighborhood who worked renovating brownstones in the area and talked about the local real estate market. He told me that if you had bought even five years ago, you could have made your money back quickly after a renovation. The whole area above 125th Street is in a major state of transformation that happens even month by month as I have seen in a six month period in Washington Heights as old family businesses and small restaurants give way to coffee bars and fancy shops and galleries. Even he said it is not the Harlem it was last year.

My walk concluded with a subway ride back down to 42nd Street with a game plan to cover the rest of the area above 125th Street as my border for this part of the project. There are so many pocket museums and parks to cover and explore.

 

Places to Visit:

Trinity Church Cemetery

770 Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10032

(212) 368-1600

https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/cemetery-mausoleum

 

Hope Stevens Garden

505 West 142nd Street between Amsterdam and Hamilton Place

New York, NY  10031

https://www.harlemonestop.com/organization/1037/hope-stevens-garden

 

Studio Museum of Harlem

144 West 125th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 864-4500

https://www.studiomuseum.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d116230-Reviews-The_Studio_Museum_in_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1405

 

Apollo Theater

253 West 125th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 531-5305

https://www.apollotheater.org/

 

Hotel Theresa

2070-2080 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard

New York, NY  10024

Click to access Hotel-Theresa–now-Theresa-Towers-.pdf

 

Cotton Club

656 West 125th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 623-7980

http://cottonclub-newyork.com/

 

Places to eat:

 

The One Stop Patty Shop

1708 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10031

(212) 491-7466

https://www.facebook.com/pages/1-Stop-Patty-Shop/421985874602159

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4519234-Reviews-One_Stop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Handpulled Noodles

3600 Broadway

New York, NY  10031

(917) 262-0213

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d8054569-Reviews-The_Handpulled_Noodle_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Grullon II Bakery

3522 Broadway

New York, NY 10031

(646) 329-5495

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10424741-Reviews-Grullon_1_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The High Bridge in High Bridge Park

Day Forty-One: Walking Dyckman Street through Harlem River Drive & FDR Drive 207th Street to 155th Street March 23, 2016

The weather finally broke and it was a nice day to continue the walk. It has been a mild winter but it is hard to find time to do much with work and my volunteer activities plus the job search to keep me busy. Wednesday brought a sunny, warm day to New York City and I was going to take full advantage of it. After a busy morning at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, I took the A Train up to 207th Street and was about to complete the last leg of Washington Heights. I walked the entire stretch of Dyckman Street leading to Harlem River Drive to FDR Drive which covers the whole east side of the river. This part of my walk took from 1:45pm to 7:15pm. I walked fifty-two blocks both ways with stops in all parts of High Bridge Park.

First off, there are many changes going on all over Washington Heights since I started the walk in June. There is scaffolding all over the place and many businesses are starting to change hands. There have been more upscale looking restaurants opening up all over the neighborhood, more renovations in the parks and more white residents jogging in the parks and walking their dogs is telling me that the neighborhood is transitioning. So many apartment buildings and brownstones are being renovated that the whole look of the neighborhood is changing.

I started the walk on Dyckman Street walking by the very top of High Bridge Park by Fort George Hill right across from the Dyckman Houses. This part of the park could be quite pretty if it were not so full of trash. The beautiful rolling hills and trees are loaded down with garbage. It’s sad in that this part of the park is in such bad shape since it gives the impression of what Manhattan must have looked like when the Dutch arrived with rock formations and hanging trees. If cleaned up and properly landscaped, it could be breathtaking.

Inwood Hill Park IV

The entrance to High Bridge Park by Dyckman Street and the Dyckman Houses

I walked down Harlem River Drive making stops inside High Bridge Park along the way. It is sad that most of the park is full of trash and not well maintained. All along the highway though interesting rock formations and flowering trees enhanced what you really saw by walking next to it.

By the time you get to 175th Street, you can’t walk any farther and you have to make your way into the park, which I had been through many months before the Fall. The parks system is working on the pathway from 175th Street to about 170th and then it stops again. You will have to walk down Amsterdam Avenue to about 166th Street where the park meets the local school parks and then take the path extension through High Bridge Park.

During the day, I would trust this path but I would not venture through it after twilight. As you wind down the paths, go off the beaten track around 170th Street and you will see all the natural cliffs that overlook the Bronx. This winding pathways can be rugged so make sure you have comfortable walking shoes when venturing off the paths. The natural rock formations are unusual and there are many places to view the surrounding area.

What was fascinating was the graffiti art work by the overpass at 175th Street. This form of tagging is all over Upper Manhattan and rather than a hindrance, the artists (or ‘taggers’) have an interesting display of faces and animals that would belong in any inventive gallery. The ‘x’ed out eyes on some of the cartoon like work hark back to the work of Keith Haring in the 80’s. Since these band of ‘gangs’ often paint over each other’s work, these pieces of art are in a constant state of flux and are ever changing.

High Bridge Park V

High Bridge Park in not so good light

The famous High Bridge Water Tower that is located in the park between West 173rd and 174th streets was built in 1866-72 to help meet the increasing demands on the city’s water system. The 200 foot octagonal tower was designed by John B. Jervis in a mixture of the Romanesque Revival and neo-Grec styles and was accompanied by a 7-arce reservoir.

The High Bridge system reached its full capacity by 1875. With the opening of the Croton Aqueduct, the High Bridge system became less relied upon; during World War I it was completely shut down when sabotage was feared. In 1949, the tower was removed from service and a carillon was installed in 1958. The tower and the cupola were rehabilitated and restored in 1989-90 and the tower was designated a NYC landmark in 1967. Located behind the Highbridge Play Center, it is fenced off and you can only see it from a distance. (Wikipedia).

Water Tower High Bridge Park

The Water Tower in High Bridge Park

The Highbridge Play Center located at West 172nd and West 174th Streets was built between 1934-36 in the Art Moderne style. It was built on the site of the reservoir and features a very large swimming pool that has been closed since the Summer. It was designated a NYC Landmark in 2007. (Wikipedia).

These two landmarks are located once you exit the path off Harlem River Drive and take some time to walk around this part of the park. Another landmark you should not miss is the High Bridge, which is the oldest standing bridge in NYC. Built in 1848, it was built to carry the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River. (Wikipedia).

The bridge is fun to walk over and offers the most beautiful views of the river and the surrounding park. On a clear day, you can see for miles around and once the foliage comes back a nice view of the park.

High Bridge Park II

The Bridge

The pathway brought me back to the Morris-Jumel Mansion park, which I had visited right after the holidays and to the end of the park at 155th Street. I exited the park at 158th Street and walked down the Historic Brush Staircase.

Named after John T. Brush, the owner of the New York Giants baseball team that used to play in the Polo Grounds, the stairs were built in 1913 and were used to go from the ticket booth that was located on the top of Edgecombe Avenue to the stadium below. When the Giants moved out and the stadium was knocked down in 1967 to be replaced by a public housing project in 1968, the stairs were in a state of disrepair. (Google).

Brush Staircase

Brush Staircase

Renovated in 2014 and rededicated, the stairs takes you from the top of the park at 158th Street back down to Harlem River Drive. The stairs are a steep walk so remember to hold onto the rail on the way down. At the bottom of the stairs is a very scary vendor selling Spanish food that looks like it has not passed inspection so avoid it and maybe grab a coke like I did that afternoon. Make sure to look at the inscription on the stairs as it harks back to a time when this was a major sports area and a footnote in NYC sports.

I ended the afternoon by crossing 155th Street and walking down the stairs by the bridge into the lower part of 155th Street where the public housing was located. I have to say that I was pretty naïve to walk through this area with my ‘CIA’ hat on (Culinary Institute of America where I am an Alumni).

The Polo Ground Towers are a 15.5 acre parcel of land in which four 30 story towers were built on the site of the old stadium. It was a scary part of the walk as even the cops that were located by the Community Center would not get out of their car. It was funny though in that no one looked at me weird or even bothered my but I could see that the firemen on the fire truck exiting the projects and the police looked at me strange.

Polo Grounds Apartment

Polo Grounds Apartments

Everyone who lived there just went upon their business without even noticing me and I just walked around the projects down 155th Street and up and around Fredrick Douglas Drive and around Harlem River Drive West. There is a series of supermarkets, convenience stores and small restaurants. The area is isolated and pretty self-contained. I have to admit it is not the most pleasant place to live and looks plagued with problems.

The funny part is that when you cross the street onto 154th Street, you can see where the buildings are starting to renovate and it looks like new residents are moving into the area just one block away. I made my rounds down Fredrick Douglas Boulevard around the block and headed around the projects on my way back to Harlem River Drive and then crossed over to the overpass where the sidewalk started to go back up Harlem River Drive across from the end of the projects. That was another interesting part of the walk.

As you walk up the left side of the highway facing the river, you will realize the true beauty of Manhattan island by way of the river. Many pleasure boats, rowing teams and flocks of birds habitat this area. It has a whole culture just based on the river and from across the street you don’t see the faults of High Bridge Park. Just the visuals of the park and the rock formations jutting out.

As I finished the walk at Dyckman Street and crossed over Broadway, all the upscale outdoor cafes were open and loaded with customers signaling that the warm weather was back and winter might finally be over. Mother Nature has a way of toying with us but it looks like the cold days are behind us and we are looking forward to a warm Spring ahead.

Places to Visit:

High Bridge Park

190th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10040

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridge-park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d8377627-Reviews-The_High_Bridge-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Morris-Jumel Mansion

Day Thirty-Six: Visiting both the Morris-Jumel Mansion/Little Red Lighthouse in Riverside Park Washington Heights January 16th, 2016

Before I could finish my walk of Washington Heights, there were a few sights I wanted to see before it got too cold. So on a mild but brisk afternoon after a long morning in the Soup Kitchen, I visited the Little Red Lighthouse and the Morris-Jumel Mansion. I missed seeing these spots during the summer.

My first part of the trip lead me to 181st Street and the long walk down the street to Riverside Park. I was amazed of how beautiful 181st Street is at all seasons. It is still breathtaking in the winter as it is during the summer except you can see more. You could view more of the formations on the riverside cliffs at this time of the year.

Even in the short time since the summer ended, there have been many changes in the neighborhood. More buildings are under scaffolding and being sandblasted. A lot of storefronts are empty and the mom and pop businesses that I passed over the summer have closed their doors showing that the neighborhood is in transition. Slowly more expensive restaurants and shops are opening east of Broadway.

The walk down the path through Riverside Park is quite steep so make sure that you have comfortable shoes on and do your best to avoid the bike riders who speed by. At the end of the path, turn the corner and you will see the small lighthouse hidden behind a leg of the bridge.

It is rather unusual spot for a lighthouse but it has a rather colorful past. Located underneath the George Washington Bridge along this treacherous section of the Hudson River once known as Jeffrey’s Hook, this is one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City.

Little Red Lighthouse III

The Little Red Lighthouse

As traffic increased along the Hudson River, so did the number of shipwrecks at Jeffery’s Hook. In an attempt to reduce accidents, a red pole was placed at Jeffery’s Hook jutting out over the river to warn travelers of danger. In 1889, two 10-candlepower lanterns were placed on the pole to aid navigation. Much of the land surrounding the lighthouse, including the riverbanks of Jeffery’s Hook, was acquired by the City in 1896 and became known as Fort Washington Park.

The Little Red Lighthouse had been erected on Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1880, where it used a 1000 pound fog signal and flashing red light to guide ships through the night. It became obsolete and was dismantled in 1917. In 1921, the U.S. Coast Guard reconstructed this lighthouse on Jeffery’s Hook in an attempt to improve navigational aids on the Hudson River. Run by a part-time keeper and furnished with a battery-powered lamp and a fog bell, the lighthouse was an important guide to river travelers for ten years. The George Washington Bridge opened in 1931 and the brighter lights of the bridge again made the lighthouse obsolete.

Little Red Lighthouse.jpg

The Little Red Lighthouse

The Coast Guide planned to auction off the lighthouse but an outpouring of support for the beacon helped save it. The outcry from the public was prompted by the children’s book, ‘The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge’, written by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward in 1942. In the popular book, the Little Red Lighthouse is happy and content until the great bridge is build over it. In the end, the lighthouse learns that it still has an important job to do and that there is still a place in the world for an old lighthouse. People then sent money to save the icon from the auction block.

Little Red Lighthouse II

In 1951, the Coast Guard gave the property to the parks and in 1979 it was added to the National Register of Historical Places.

(New York City Department of Parks & Recreation)

It is a neat little park under the bridge and should not be missed when visiting this part of Riverside Park.

Instead of climbing back up the long path, I took a stroll down the paths of Riverside Park and walked by the river that was so close that you could put your hand into it (don’t!). It was a beautiful walk to be so close to the river and see the vistas of the cliffs of New Jersey and view the river both up and down stream. On this cool winter day, the park had a few joggers but not too many other people.

Riverside Park

Riverside Park in the Spring

My walk took me back to 160th Street and the cross bridge that took me back to the neighborhood that I had visited earlier this summer. This extension of Riverside Drive leads back to Broadway and I crossed back up to 161st Street to my destination of the Morris-Jumel Mansion located in Jumel Terrace right off High Bridge Park.

I made a pit stop for a snack at Esmeraldo Bakery on Broadway at 538 West 181st Street (see review on TripAdvisor) for their Cubanitos, a sweet meat pie and Rellenas, a mashed potato meat pie that are deep-fried. They are so good and at 2 small cubanitos for $1.00 and the Rellena for $1.25, it is quite a steal. Their doughnuts are really good as well. They are also $1.00. The staff always tolerates my broken Spanish.

Esmeraldo Bakery

Esmeraldo Bakery 538 181st Street

Jumel Terrace which is located between 162nd Street and 160th Streets located on a buff overlooking the Harlem River on its own park like setting with great views of both the Bronx and other parts of Manhattan. It is surrounded by a neighborhood of beautiful renovated brownstones, some still having their lights and decorations up from the holiday. It must have been beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Morris-Jumel Historic District

The Morris-Jumel Historic District in the Summer

The Morris-Jumel Mansion, located at 65 Jumel Terrace, is the long surviving Colonial residence left in Manhattan. The mansion was built as a summer ‘villa’ in 1795 by the British Colonel Roger Morris and his American wife Mary Philipse, it originally commanded extensive views in all directions. It viewed New York harbor and Staten Island to the south; of the Hudson and Harlem rivers to the west and east and of Westchester county to the north.

morris-jumel mansion

Morris-Jumel Mansion

Colonel Morris was the son of the famous architect Roger Morris, a fact which may explain the extremely innovative features of the mansion such as the gigantic portico and the rear wing which was the first octagon built in the colonies.

The house’s situation and large size made it ideal as military headquarters during the Revolution and it was occupied successively by Washington, General Sir Henry Clinton and the Hessian General Baron von Knyphausen. As the Morrises were loyal to Britain during the Revolution, their property was seized and sold after its conclusion. In 1790, Washington returned for a cabinet dinner at which he entertained Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton and Colonel Knox among others.

The later history of the house centers on the Jumel’s. Stephen Jumel was a wealthy French émigré who married in 1804 his beautiful and brilliant mistress, Eliza Brown. They bought the mansion in 1810. In 1815, they sailed to France and offered Napoleon safe passage to New York after Waterloo. Although he eventually declined the offer, they did acquire from his family many important Napoleonic relics, some of which can be seen in the Blue Room on the second floor. Stephen died in 1832 and Eliza married the ex-Vice-President Aaron Burr in the front parlor one year later. They were in the process of a divorce a few years later when he died on the day the divorce was finalized. On Eliza death in 1865, she was considered one of the wealthiest women in America.

(Morris-Jumel Mansion welcome Guide)

The house tour is self-guided and you are able to walk all around the first and second floors as well as the kitchen in the basement. The mansion had just finished having all the holiday decorations packed up for the season so the mansion was in a little disarray. The kitchen is really interesting with all the period cooking tools in which we take the electronic ones so much for granted today. The antique waffle iron is really interesting.

The upstairs bedrooms have been restored and you get to see where Aaron Burr slept. Eliza had adopted her niece and she became Eliza’s daughter and her children her grandchildren, which by the painting in the house she must have been very fond of growing up.

Morris-Jumel Mansion III

In the summer months, the gardens are really nice to walk around in and are nicely landscaped. On a cool winter afternoon, it was nice to sit outside but there was not much to see. The mansion is definitely best either during the holidays or in the warmer months.

Morris-Jumel Mansion IV

Madame Jumel and family

It was nice to visit these sites as I missed them most of the summer and both are worth checking out. If you need to have dinner before leaving the neighborhood, Broadway is lined with many interesting Dominican restaurants that are reasonable and have nice menu’s.

Places to Visit:

Morris-Jumel Mansion

65 Jumel Terrace

New York, NY  10032

(212) 923-8008

http://www.morrisjumel.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d103500-Reviews-Morris_Jumel_Mansion-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/252

 

Little Red Lighthouse

Fort Washington Park

Hudson River Greenway

New York, NY  10032

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-washington-park/highlights/11044

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d2368581-Reviews-Little_Red_Lighthouse-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/300

 

Places to Eat:

Esmeraldo Bakery

538 West 18st Street

New York, NY  10033

(212) 543-2250

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5098947-Reviews-Esmeraldo_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1364

The High Bridge in High Bridge Park

Day Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six: Criss-Crossing Washington Heights’s Streets East and West of Broadway from 181st to 155th Streets November 15th and 16th, 2015

Well I finally finished my tour of Washington Heights. I had spent so much time in the neighborhood that I felt like I lived there. This part of Manhattan took a long time to tour as there is so many interesting things to see and places to visit. It has also been tough with the time change and the days getting shorter. It is now getting dark at 5:00pm.

This part of  Washington Heights I started on Sunday afternoon walking from 181st Street from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue to 167th Street just at dusk. I was also able to tour some parts of High Bridge Park.

I started the long journey at Quisqueya Playground at 180th Street. It’s a nice little part of the park for small children with a pleasant playground and a nice view of the bridge. It is also a good place for a pit stop for the  bathroom, which finding a public bathroom can be a chore off the beaten track.

Quisqueya means “cradle of life” and it was named after one of the two aboriginal names for the island of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic). This was named by Christopher Columbus for the “la Isla Espanola”. The park was created in 1934 and was renovated in 1998. The park is very popular with local children (NYCParks.com).

I criss-crossed the streets back and forth looking at classic pre-war apartments with brownstones tucked in here and there. In some parts of the neighborhood, you might even find a lone wooden home, a through back to a time when this was a more rural area as late as the 1930’s. In the six months that I have been doing this walking project, I am amazed by the number of changes I keep seeing in such a short period of time.

So many merchants along the 180th Street and St. Nichols Avenue shopping districts have either closed or in the process of changing hands. Many of merchants along St. Nichols Avenue have been upgrading their businesses improving the look of their interiors and their selection of products. It is reflected in the way the neighborhood is changing.

All over the streets and avenues, scaffolding is going up around apartment buildings and brownstones. Much work is being done between 187th Street to 183rd Street around Yeshiva University as the school keeps expanding and more students are moving into the surrounding buildings. The area around Columbia Medical Center is going through a major change as the facility expands around Broadway to Audubon Avenue. Not just in the buildings themselves but the surrounding apartment buildings and brownstones as more people working at the hospital move in as well as the businesses that cater to them. Don’t be fooled though the area still has a rich Dominican flair with lively music being played and great restaurants and bakeries that cater to everyone.

I continued my walk to the corner of St. Nichols and 178th Street where a very busy street vendor was making fresh pastilitos, which were some of the best I had eaten so far. Her chicken pastilitos were filled with a generous portion of well-spiced chicken and beef and were still steaming hot from the fryer. She seemed surprised that I was so enthusiastic about eating them. Her version was really good!

As I munched my way down the various streets, I peeked in stores and restaurants and looked over many of the wares being sold on the street. There is such a great selection of items to buy at very reasonable prices. One woman on St. Nichols Avenue was selling dolls and doll carriages at half the price of the stores. It was the Dominican version of the Lower East Side.

Water Tower High Bridge Park

Water Tower in High Bridge Park

It was one of those unusually warm days where the temperature went up to 68 degrees making it a perfect day to walk around High Bridge Park. The park was so beautiful and relaxing on a warm day. The leaves were still on the trees with a warm yellow and gold hue to them and I walked past the empty pools by the Water Tower, which was closed off to touring. The tower was built in 1842 and used to transport over 47,000 gallons of water to Midtown from the Croton Aqueduct (NYCParks.com). The tower is currently closed off for renovation by the Parks service.

You could see the High Bridge from the top of the buff. These cliffs really prove that Manhattan is not flat. It still has its rustic look from the Ice Age. The view of the river is just spectacular.

High Bridge Park II

High Point Bridge and Tower

The best part was there were a lot of people out enjoying the day, so you could see how much the population up here uses and appreciates the park. There were a few heated soccer and baseball games going on Sunday and the playgrounds were in full swing both on the weekend and after school. Where the kids are the food vendors are as well. I had my selection of ice creams, meat pies, croquettes and soups to choose from. I made a second trip to El Manantial Bakery at 1220 St. Nichols Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) for Guava pastries and sugary doughnuts.

El Manantial Bakery

El Manantial Bakery at 1220 St. Nichols Avenue

I ended my Sunday tour at 167th Street touring around the Mirabel Sister’s School, which is home to a whole new school complex and apartment dwellings. This is where IS 90 is located, which was quiet on Sunday but bustling the next day after school. There are four schools in this complex which is right next to the police station, which means security is very good in this area. The kids had the playground and the park to stretch out in.

On Monday afternoon after a long day in the Soup Kitchen working on prep for the upcoming week, I started my walk on the border of Washington Heights and Harlem at 155th Street. This area is bustling with traffic that is coming in and out of the Macombs Dam Bridge.

I criss-crossed the streets between 155th to 170th Streets. The most impressive housing outside the Upper West Side is located between 157th and 163rd Streets. I have never seen such beautiful apartment buildings and brownstones that have had so much care put into them. So many of the them were still decorated for Halloween and upcoming Thanksgiving. There is so much impressive stonework on the buildings you must remember to look up and really see these buildings from both sides of the street.

halloween in Washington Heights

Halloween in Washington Heights

Still one of the most beautiful sections of this part of the neighborhood is around the Morris-Jumel Mansion and Jumel Terrace with its well-tended brownstones with potted plants and decorations around the doors of these two impressive blocks surrounding the mansion. White lights adorn some of the trees and there is even a Community Garden at 162nd Street that must be nice to plant and sit in on a Spring or Summer day. The grounds of the mansion were closed that day for a private function but I had been on them before and it is a nice place to just sit and relax and enjoy the view of the river.

Morris-Jumel Historic District

Morris-Jumel Historic District

I walked around the Sugar Hill Luminary Park which needs a good mow and some new landscaping but must have been something in its day when the Harlem elite lived in this area. Pretty much all the brownstones in this area have been snatched up and renovated.

For lunch, I had a slice of pizza at Slice Pizza of Amsterdam at around 180th Street and Amsterdam (now closed). The pizza is terrible, warmed over from the morning and no flavor in the sauce. There was no taste to it. It’s a pretty restaurant catering to the changes going on in upper Amsterdam Avenue but everything in the cases looked like it had been sitting since the early morning, so they obviously are not getting that much business in the early morning or afternoon until school lets out. Walk by the schools when they let out and eat at one of the street vendors. At least you will know the food is fresh (Yelp reviewers have said that the pizzeria has now closed down for business February 2019).

I walked the entire length of Edgecombe Avenue which lines High Bridge Park and talk about an area in transition. All the apartment buildings  that line the park are going through what I call the ‘new window complex’. It s when a building is being renovated for new residents and high rents. The entire area by the park is being refinished and sandblasted. This little gem of a neighborhood has the most spectacular view of the park and the river.

On my way back to the subway I stopped Estrella Bakery Corp. at 3861 Broadway (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) and had the most amazing snack. A potato croquette called a ‘Renelito’, which is mashed potatoes filled with a spicy beef and then breaded and fried. These melt in your mouth and they are so flavorful. I could not believe how fresh and delicious they were to eat. I also had one of their Cinnamon roll pastry called a ‘Quesito’ which is a puff pastry rolled with lots of cinnamon sugar and then baked. Both were a bit of heaven and great way to end today’s walk. This is a bakery you should not bypass when in the neighborhood.

Estrella Bakery

5 Estrella Bakery

There are all sorts of great bakeries and restaurants that line Broadway and the 181st Street shopping corridor. Don’t miss walking around this area at Christmas time when 181st Street is decorated for the holidays.

 

Places to visit:

 

Water Tower at High Bridge Park at 173rd Street

Washington Heights, NYC 10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/highbridge-park/planyc

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4467

 

Places to Eat:

 

5 Estrella Bakery

3861 Broadway

New York, NY 10032

(212) 795-5000

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4416394-Reviews-5_Estrella_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/407

 

El Manantial Bakery

1220 St. Nichols Avenue

New York, NY  10032

(212) 795-0045

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4987781-Reviews-El_Manantial_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

 

 

High Bridge Park

Day Twenty One: Walking on Amsterdam Avenue to High Bridge Park in Washington Heights October 30th, 2015

On a beautiful sunny day in Washington Heights,  I finally finished my travels up Amsterdam Avenue from 181st Street to the corner of Fort George Avenue. My first stop was McNally Plaza as I crossed the street to start the walk up Amsterdam Avenue. The park and its fall foliage was beckoning. McNally is a small park right by the Washington Bridge leading to the Bronx.

McNally Plaza Park is named after World War I Corporal Richard J. McNally, who lived in the neighborhood and was killed at the end of the war in September of 1918 (NYCParks.com).

McNally Plaza Park

McNally Plaza Park

I don’t recommend taking a walk on this busy bridge but for a short distance it offers the most amazing views of the East River and of the foliage in High Bridge Park below. You can see the few joggers and bicyclists below that had finished their day at work. The rolling hills remind me of my travels in Inwood.

As I walked up Amsterdam Avenue, I passed by the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (Wheels), that was letting out for the day. There is the most amazing street vendor just out side the school who makes freshly fried pastilitos  and croquet’s filled with beef, cheese or chicken. She is located just outside the door to the school at 182nd Street and try to catch her before she leaves the school area. You can pick up a nice lunch for about $3.00 and her beef pastilitos are the best.

As the kids were leaving for the day, there was a superhero performance that some outside vendor was putting on for the kids and they were truly engaged by the performance. They had the kids singing and dancing right on the street to the amusement of all the parents who looked happy for the distraction. I forgot what is was like to be in elementary school and have time to just relax and have fun. It may not have been the best performance but the actors  knew how to relate to the kids and it was fun to watch.

The George Washington School at the tip of Amsterdam Avenue was letting out for the day, so when I reached the top of the avenue there was a swirl of activity. The students swarmed all the local businesses to socialize with their friends and have snacks. When school let out for the day, this is a very busy area. Their are about five public and three private schools in the area and after school the kids keep themselves occupied with hanging out at the local parks or outside popular businesses in the neighborhood.

My first stop in the neighborhood was an ice cream parlor that is a popular hangout Rincocito Ice Cream at 1650 St. Nicolas Avenue that I had passed many times in this part of the neighborhood. It is located by the convergence of all the avenues starting points to the north. I had a delicious ice cream named ‘Perry’s Birthday’ which you have to try when you visit this neat little shop. I had it in a fresh waffle cone and it is a combination of birthday cake and cotton candy ice creams. For $2.50 for two large scoops, it was quite the deal and hit the spot on this unusually hot day.

After my snack started my long day of walking down the streets, starting at 193rd Street, one of the shortest streets in the walk to all the way down to 181st Street. It was walking on both sides of the streets criss-crossing the avenues. There was quite a view of High Bridge Park from Laurel Hill Terrance that abuts Yeshiva University. The fall foliage is in full glory in the park at this time and try to get into the park before the array colors is gone. Many of the students from Yeshiva and the local schools were using the park and the playgrounds in droves, enjoying the last warm days of the summer that crept into fall. Lauren Hill Terrace gives you such a nice view of the park.

High Bridge Park III

High Bridge Park

As I criss-crossed most of the streets, they are lined with beautiful pre-war buildings with less activity then in the past. As the weather has cooled, I don’t see as many people on the street either playing dominoes or conversing in fold-up chairs. Still there were lots of kids milling around talking to their friends.

On 182nd Street, there was a small grouping of brownstones that were out of place with the rest of the block. The residents had them beautifully decorated for Halloween with all sorts of spider webs, skeletons and hay/corn stalk displays. They did a good job putting me into the Halloween spirit. They were entertaining a group of people who were dressed like they were getting ready for a party.

halloween in Washington Heights

Halloween in Washington Heights

By the time I reached my goal of 181st Street, it was nightfall with the bustle of a street teaming with activity. Since this is a major shopping block, the stores were bustling with activity. There are loads of interesting street vendors to choose from selling all sorts of hot snacks, from roasted pork, hot soup, pastilitos, croquettes, ices and soft tacos there is a never ending choice of freshly cooked food that is made right in front of you. These vendors line 181st Street between Amsterdam and Broadway.

181 Street Shopping District

181st Street in Washington Heights

My day ended at the Morgan Library at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street for a screening of ‘Nosferatu’, the silent German version of ‘Dracula’ made back in 1922. The screening was packed on this pre-Halloween night with patrons who enjoyed the musical performance during the film. Between the foliage in the park, the decorations around the city and the movie, it put me into the spirit of Halloween.

Don’t miss ‘Nosferatu’ from 1922, the German Count Dracula

 

Places to Visit:

 

High Bridge Park

190th & Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10040

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridge-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridgepark-bronx

 

Morgan Library

225 Madison Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 685-0008

https://www.themorgan.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Thursday 10:30am-5:00pm/Friday 10:30am-9:30pm/Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

Fee: Adults $22.00/Seniors $14.00/Students $13.00/Free to Members and Children under 12 (with an Adult supervising)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107356-Reviews-The_Morgan_Library_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

 

Places to Eat:

Rincocito Ice Cream

1650 Saint Nichols Avenue

New York, NY  10033

Open:

My review on TripAdvisor:

Sylvan Terrace

Day Nineteen: Walking the East Side of Broadway Washington Heights from 193rd to 155th Streets from St. Nicolas Avenue to High Bridge Park October 19th, 2015

I never realized that walking around Washington Heights would take so long but there is a little secret to the neighborhood. It isn’t flat! I have never walked up and down so many hills. This part of the island reminds you that hills and rock formations still exist on the island of Manhattan. You just don’t see them that much in Midtown.

I started my day just getting into New York City. The buses run so funny in the morning. Then it was a grueling day at the Soup Kitchen that I volunteer at some mornings when I am in the city. Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen was buzzing away today with a chicken curry entrée that had people coming back for thirds and fourths and we did not close until almost 12:40pm. Then it was the trip uptown. It does take a while to get to that part of Manhattan and as usual there were a lot of surprises that awaited.

When you get out of the A Train at 190th Street, the tunnel leading to the street on both sides has the most colorful street art on all the walls. Really take your time to look at the ‘tag’ work. This is now considered an art form in the city (as long as it does not disrupt or damage property) and you really have to look at the fringe neighborhoods, like Red Hook and Bushwick, for the inspirations. This tunnel shows a colorful display of street art that is actually allowed in the station and look to both walls and ceiling for the creative juices of many of these artists. The work is just amazing with colorful symbols and letter adorning the entire tunnel on the way out.

191th Subway Station.jpg

191st Subway Station is ever changing.

My walk today consisted of the entire lengths of the avenues in eastern Washington Heights. I walked the entire lengths of both Audubon Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue and covered almost all of Amsterdam Avenue having to finally stop at 181 Street because it was getting dark and my feet were killing me. I walked both sides of the avenues from the tip of the neighborhood at 192nd Street to the border of the neighborhood at 155th Street. Needless to say, it was a long trip.

190 Street Subway Station

190th Street Subway Station

Audubon Avenue is more residential with many pre-war buildings that are in the middle of renovations or have already been renovation. St. Nicolas Avenue is more commercial with small businesses and street vendors filling up most of the storefronts along the avenue.

My first stop was Esmeraldo Bakery at 538 West 181st Street  (See review on TripAdvisor.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), a small hole in the wall bakery that offers an array of sweets and hot snacks. I enjoyed a beef and rice croquet, which are well-known in many of the Dominican bakeries I have visited in Washington Heights and a large twisted cinnamon sugar doughnut, which was a messy, sugary delight.

Esmeraldo Bakery III

Esmeraldo Bakery 538 West 181st Street

For the price of $2.00, this gem of a bakery is a reasonable place to fill up on carbs for the long walk around the neighborhood. The service is super friendly and they speak both English and Spanish. Their selection is really good and take a few extras along the way.

Esmeraldo Bakery

The pastries at Esmeraldo Bakery are delicious and reasonable

Audubon Avenue offers some beautiful pre-war apartment buildings, many of which like the rest of the neighborhood are in the process of renovation. A lot of this neighborhood is under scaffolding. There are unique brownstones and townhouses to view on the way down the street in between the buildings. Yeshiva University sits in the low 180’s and this area during the day is dominated by college students and professors, who are milling around between classes and a lot of the businesses in the area cater to this population with many nice restaurants and stores. When classes let out in the evening, you are on a very business campus and would not know that you are still in Washington Heights.

Audubon Avenue stops at 165th Street to merge into St. Nicholas Avenue and a very busy shopping area. At the merger of St. Nicholas and Amsterdam Avenues, you walk past the C-Town grocery store to find the Sylvan Terrace, which is 20 identical homes that were once part of the entrance to the Morris-Jumel Mansion (See review on TripAdvisor.com and VisitingaMuseum.com), once home to Aaron Burr’s second wife, Eliza Jumel.

morris-jumel mansion II

The Morris-Jumel Mansion

Sylvan Terrace was built in 1882 and was once part of the original Old Post Road from New York to Boston. The homes that now surround the street were built by James E. Ray between 1890 and 1902. The architect was influenced by the Queen Anne, Romanesque and Renaissance Revival influences and the homes are built with the Queen Ann style in mind (IloveWashingtonHeights.com).

These homes have been painfully restored back to their true glory and rumored to be going for about a million each. Their uniform painting and beautiful cobblestone streets leading to the mansion seem totally out-of-place with the rest of the neighborhood. So climb the stairs and enjoy the walk down the street. This pathway was once part of the East Post Road that lead to Boston.

Sylvan Terrace and Morris-Jumel Mansion

Sylvan Terrace

At the end of the block is the Morris-Jumel Mansion (see review on TripAdvisor & VisitingaMuseum.com), which was unfortunately closed the day I was there but I got to walk the ground and sit in the mansion’s colorful garden that had yet to give way to the fall season. There was still a bit of summer left in that afternoon and it was nice to enjoy it walking the flowery paths and stone benches. It has a great view of the river and the neighborhood below as this area was once the summer and weekend homes of the wealthy downtown when upper Manhattan was still considered the ‘wilderness’. Another version of this you can see at the Gracie Mansion in the 90’s which I will also see in the future.

Morris-JUmel Mansion gardens

Morris-Jumel Mansion gardens in the summer months

Take some time to stroll these paths and then walk around the Jumel Terrace Historical District, which is lined with turn of the last century apartment buildings and classic brownstones that are starting to be decorated for Halloween. They have a classic Edith Wharton look to them. This neighborhood is an oasis for the rest of the area and is tucked into this small three block radius. I took some time to really see how everyone had renovated their homes.

Morris-Jumel Historic District

Morris-Jumel Historic District

As you walk out of the Historical district, at 157th Street, you end up in a dead-end street with the picturesque Bushman Steps, a staircase that leads to Edgecombe Avenue and the very edge of High Bridge Park. On a sunny afternoon, this little park offers much refuge to the warm afternoon and a beautiful view to boot. This pocket park really makes the street pop and gives it a feel of ‘Old New York’, lined with trees and flowers.

At the end of 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, there is a series of unique brownstones at various stages of renovation. This row of brownstones are in various stages of renovation but like the rest of the area will be highly desirable in the future. These homes really stick out amongst the more modern buildings. My goal to 155th Street was complete as another more modern building is on the other side of 155th Street showing that many changes are happening in this area.

On the way back up St. Nicholas Avenue to the other side of Audubon Avenue, the schools were letting out and students and parents alike to converging to the bakeries and fast food restaurants that line the area.

My next stop was at El Manantial Bakery at 325 St. Nicholas Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) for pastilitos  and a guava empanada. The pastilitos were filled with both chicken and beef and the guava empanada was filled with a guava jelly that all were really good. The pastilitos had just been fried and they had that juicy greasiness that something gets right out of the fryer. Make sure to order the beef ones. You will need a snack by this point. I only spend about $3.25 for two pastilitos, one pastry and a coke. Quite a steal!

El Manantial Bakery

El Manantial Bakery at 325 St. Nicolas Avenue

The walk up and down St. Nicholas you will see one of the most active shopping districts that will compare to 207th and 181st Streets. So many things can be bought and sold on this avenue. Some of the most interesting street vendors are located between 180th to 187th Streets selling ices, pastilitos, fried pork, fried pastries, dolls, books, household appliances and even Christmas ornaments.

El Manantial Bakery II

El Manantial Bakery has a wonderful selection of goodies

People were out in droves when school let out and many children were begging their parents for a snack. This can be a very active Avenue with many interesting restaurants to try in the future. St. Nicholas Avenue buzzed with activity from one end of the avenue to the other, especially as you arrived back at the hospital point by 168th Street. Columbia Presbyterian is taking over all the blocks at this location, changing the demographics and buildings.

I revisited the area again during the Christmas holiday season and this neighborhood is very lively with all the restaurants and stores in full swing. The area is also nicely decorated with light displays and music. There are a lot of nice restaurant and shops to choose from along the 181st Street corridor from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue.

My last part of the walk took me up and down the Amsterdam Avenue, which as it gets dark can get quite gloomy with its industrial feel to it. Parts of the it by High Bridge Park both by Fort George Avenue and between 181st and 170th Streets can be pretty, for the most part gentrification has left this part of the neighborhood alone.

High Bridge Park III

High Bridge Park

By the time I rounded 155th Street and arrived at 181st, it was starting to get dark and my feet and legs were ready to give out. Even the snacks did not help as I started to get hungry and with the dark started to come the fall cold nights. I have a lot more to walk in this neighborhood but just as much to explore.

 

Places to Visit:

 

High Bridge Park

190th & Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10040

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridge-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/highbridge-park/planyc

 

Sylvan Terrace Houses

Between 161st and 160th Street

New York, NY 10032

Sylvan Terrace: A Hidden Gem In Washington Heights

 

Morris-Jumel Mansion & Historic District

65 Jumel Terrace

Washington Heights, NY 10033

(212) 923-8008

http://www.morrisjumel.org/

http://www.morrisjumel.org/briefhistory/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d103500-Reviews-Morris_Jumel_Mansion-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/252

 

Places to Eat:

 

Esmeraldo Bakery

538 West 181 Street

New York, NY  10033

(212) 543-2250

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5098947-Reviews-Esmeraldo_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1364

 

El Manantial Bakery

1220 Saint Nichols Avenue

New York, NY  10033

(212) 795-0055

Open: Sunday-Saturday 5:30am-9:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4987781-Reviews-El_Manantial_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

I found this posted YouTube by Beth Frank and I give her credit for it. It is walking around Sylvan Terrace and the Morris-Jumel Historic District