This was the first year that “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk around the entire island took place since 2019. Since I had done the walk twice on my own, actually doing more of the walk than was required. This year I wanted to make it official.
I officially finished “The Great Saunter Walk” in May of 2022
The problem was by the time I wanted to sign up for the walk, it was completely sold out. So, I was put on a waiting list. With a prediction of rain all day (and it did rain all day!), many people dropped out before the event occurred, so I got to sign up. On a very gloomy Saturday morning, I got to the Frances Tavern at 7:30am to register and start the walk by the entrance of the Staten Island ferry.
Rather than rewrite the whole day, I updated the blog that I have written over the last two years and added to it. I hope you all enjoy my journey around the most famous island on earth on the gloomiest and rainy day ever. I hope you enjoy the journey!
My story of my walk around Manhattan island:
“The Great Saunter Walk”:
July 15th, 2022, independent walk:
I wanted to complete the walk again in the Summer to look at if from another perspective and walked the island perimeter again on July 15th. It took another three and a half hours to do the walk. This is due to meal breaks and just exhaustion due to the heat.
Normally I walk “The Great Saunter” in June around the time of either Father’s Day or the Summer Solstice, so that I have plenty of light. The problem was I was so busy in June that I had to push it back to July and the biggest problem was the heat. In the morning when I started the walk, it was cool and in the high 70’s due to the clouds. When they broke around 10:00am, it started to get hotter and went to the mid 80’s. It would not have been so bad, but the humidity plays a role in the walk. When I did the official walk in May, it was so cold and wet we never stopped for a long break as we all just wanted to get it done and go home.
In the warmer months, I like to stop and relax at various parks like Jefferson Park in East Harlem or Carl Schulz Park on the Upper East Side and let my legs relax. The reason why we finished the walk in May quicker is because the businessman who I was walking with in the last leg of the walk around Stuyvesant Cove just wanted to finish as well so we never stopped.
There were a lot more people in the parks that day, so it made maneuvering a bit harder and, in some cases, like in Jefferson Park, people were all over one another. I have noticed one thing and it is not just in New York City, people’s courtesy has gone way down. People were riding their electric bikes and motorcycles in the paths of the park and on the sidewalks practically knocking people down. One very over-weight woman rode a moped through the main path of Jefferson Park chasing her dog and nearly ran over two little girls who had just finished swimming. That was something!
The nice part of the walk in July was the clear sunny day it had been and being able to enjoy the breezes and the sunshine. It is much nicer to do the walk on a pleasant day than in the rain.
My first ‘Selfie” of myself at the start of “The Great Saunter” in May of 2023. I for the life of me can’t understand the thrill people have of doing this. I now know why people think I’m a Fed all the time!
The Second Official walk of “The Great Saunter” on May 6th, 2023:
I have to admit that I thought walking in the rain was an interesting way to do “The Great Saunter”. This year I had to add in a three-hour class that I had to take for my NYU graduate program for my upcoming trip for a class in Paris.
To make the walk easier this year, I decided to stay in the City so that I could get a good night’s sleep and be closer to the start point so that I could walk as much of the West Side of the Island before I had to leave for class at 9:00am.
I was in the middle of final exams for both my college and my graduate work at NYU so Friday night before the walk, I had to write my section of a research paper on tourism between Philadelphia and Boston, grade my students end of the semester papers, update some blogs that I was working on and work on other projects.
We had just finished my Business Communications class final at NYU and after lunch with my classmates and Professor, I headed downtown to get checked in at the Residence Inn in Lower Manhattan. The hotel is just a few blocks from Fraunces Tavern, which is the starting point for “The Great Saunter”. It would be an easier start for me since I had to stop and leave for class. I spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel doing homework, reading and grading papers and working on updating my blogs. I ended up taking a long nap after all the work was done.
The Residence Inn Downtown Manhattan was our base for “The Great Saunter”:
My review on TripAdvisor:
Later that evening while I waited for my friend, Maricel to join me after work, I went to the Shake Shack in the Fulton Mall off Broadway for some dinner. I could not believe that a Shake Shack was so filthy, and the staff looked like they could care less about the food or decor. I could not believe how this restaurant was being run like there was no manager there. The Dining Room and tables needed a good cleaning and sweeping and the guy working there spent most of his time on his cell phone. I ate my dinner and left. Even though the food tasted good, visually speaking it was not up to the standards that I have seen at every other Shake Shack that I have eaten at over the years (See review on TripAdvisor).
The Chicken sandwich and French Fries at Shake Shack at the Fulton Mall
My review on TripAdvisor:
When Maricel arrived from work, we talked for about an hour and caught up. It had been a while since we could spend some time with each other. I think I lasted about an hour and then fell asleep. Later she told me that she was in the middle of talking to me and I went out like a light.
The next morning, I woke up and I had one of the best night’s sleeps in a long time. I had not felt that refreshed in a long time. I swear that the Marriott mattresses are worth their weight in gold. I had to get dressed and ready to go for the all day walk. Since I knew that I had to stop around 8:45am, I wanted to get started exactly at 7:00am.
While Maricel slept, I got shaved, showered and on my way. I stopped at Traders Express Deli at 22 Beaver Street which was the only place open at that time to get breakfast. All the fast food places were still closed, the hotel breakfast did not open until 7:00am on the weekends and all the coffee places just served coffee. This was an opportunity that Fraunces Tavern is losing to serve breakfast to a large crowd.
Trader’s Express Deli at 22 Beaver Street in Lower Manhattan
My review on TripAdvisor:
I ordered a Sausage, Egg and Cheese that I highly recommend. What I liked about the place was the friendliness of the staff and the fact that everyone seemed to be regulars. The sandwich was excellent and was the perfect breakfast to start the walk.
Eating my breakfast sandwich across from the start point
The Sausage, Egg and Cheese was yum!
After breakfast I got in the already growing line of about a hundred people and we got ready to go. At exactly 7:00am, off we went. We collected our hats and pins and were on our way up through Battery Park along the Hudson River West Side of the island. We lucked out this year as the weather was sunny, warm and just crisp enough in the morning to walk comfortably.
The start of “The Great Saunter” Fraunces Tavern in May 6th, 2023
My review on TripAdvisor:
Us lining up for “The Great Saunter” on May 6th, 2023
We lucked out this year versus last year when it rained all day. I had never been so drenched. This year it was so nice. It was bright, sunny and crisp in the morning, perfect to start the walk. When we began at 7:00am, I got my hat, pin and off I went. Since I had the new iPhone to take pictures, I was stopping by all the statuary so that I could update my older blogs on “The Great Saunter” and on walks in those neighborhoods. I got some really great shots in of sculptures along the West Side of the Island of Manhattan.
The start of “The Great Saunter” on May 6th, 2023
It was funny that another blogger said he recognized me on the walk from a previous walk and he sent me a copy of the video. It was me walking around Lower Manhattan.
Angel sent me this video of myself starting the walk right in front of him until I stopped to take a picture of lower Manhattan.
I was making excellent timing getting through the Battery, but I kept stopping to take pictures of all the sculptures that I had passed on previous walks, and I wanted better pictures this time. The day was sunny and blue, so it was perfect for taking pictures around the city. I could not believe the beautiful views that I saw of Liberty Island, Jersey City and Hoboken. Even the shots of lower Manhattan were amazing and so vivid.
Lower Manhattan that morning when I stopped to take a picture.
Passing Lady Liberty in the harbor that morning
For most of the walk until I hit 60th Street, I stopped every ten minutes to take pictures. At 8:45am though, I had to head back down to the NYU Campus to present my walking tour in Paris in three weeks (be on the lookout for “My walk in Paris” segment of this blog) and it went by really well. So well, that the professor wanted more from me so there will be some adjustments.
The view from the Battery at the riverfront of Jersey City, NJ in the background
I kept on track for walk through the Battery and kept pace with everyone else mostly passing people on my way up through Battery Park. I was making good time enjoying the warm weather and the beautiful sites that was a pleasure from the cold miserable weather from last year.
As I walked through Battery Park, I had to stop at each of the sculptures that I admired so much in all the walks that I have done in the past. It is an open-air museum in that part of the City. The first thing I passed was Castle Clinton, which once upon a time was the place immigrants registered when they came to this country before they went to Ellis Island. It also was once home to the New York Aquarium until Robert Moses dismantled it. Now it is used as a museum and a place where you buy your tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to the museums.
Castle Clinton at Battery Park
My review on TripAdvisor:
As we rounded the park in the Battery Park City, I saw a series of statues that I had seen many times on the walk. The first was the American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial. This is kind of a creepy statue as it stares at you from the bay. This was based on an incident from WWII.
The American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial at Battery Park
Artist Marisol Escobar
Ms. Escobar was born in Paris and raised in Venezuela and moved to New York in the 1950’s. She is known for her highly stylized boxy sculptures (NYCParks.org). She studied art at the Jepson Art Institute, the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Art Students League of New York (Wiki).
The signage for the statue
The next statue I remembered was the NY
Another sculpture I missed on my first two walks around the island was the New York Korean Memorial by artist Mac Adams.
The New York Korean Memorial in Battery Park
The statue is one of the first monuments to the Korean conflict built in the United States and the void in the sculpture represents the absence and loss of the war and a metaphor for death (NYCParks.org).
Artist Mac Adams
Artist Mac Adams is a British born artist who now lives in the New York area. He holds an MFA from Rutgers University. He is known for his large public works and for the use of ‘space between images’ (Wiki/Artist Bio).
I left Battery Park and entered into the newer extension of Robert Wagner Jr. Park next to Battery Park City. In the front part of the park, I came across these unusual musical instrument sculptures that graced the entrance of the park.
The art entitled “Resonating Bodies” were created by British born artist Tony Cragg, whose work I had seen uptown many times. The sculptures resemble a lute and a tuba. The work is based on the concept that all physical bodies including we are constantly enveloped by various energy forms (NYCParks.org).
“Resonating Bodies” at Robert Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City
Artist Tony Cragg
Mr. Cragg is a British born artist from Liverpool and studied at the Gloucestershire School of Art, received his BA from the Wimbledon School of Art and his MA from the Royal School of Art. He has been showing his works since 1977. He is best known for his contemporary sculptures (Artist Bio/Wiki).
Once I passed through Robert Wagner Jr. Park at Battery Park City, I continued up the West Side Promenade on my way up the west side of Manhattan making great time. I got a better view of downtown Jersey City, NJ and could not believe how beautiful the skyline is at that time of the day.
Downtown Jersey City, NJ in all its glory
Manhattan looks so vibrant at this time of the morning. There is not a lot of action at 7:30am in the morning so you can see the City at its best. As we walked though Battery Park City and the park on our way up the West Side, I had to keep taking shots of familiar sites and the famous skyline.
Battery Park City in all it “Oz” glory at 8:00am in the morning
Another piece of art that I came across that I missed in the last two trips is “Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss. The piece was part of the ‘Larger than Life” series of the artist and symbolized the heart and core of life in New York City (Hudson River Park).
“The Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss in Hudson River Park
Artist Stephen Weiss
Artist Stephen Weiss was a New York born artist who had attended the Pratt Institute. He had worked for his family company and was the husband of designer, Donna Karan. He was known for his family company and was the husband of designer, Donna Karan. He was known for his sculpture works (RoGallery).
As we were heading up the west side, I never noticed a sign that says “I want to Thank You” on the pier. I thought that was interesting in that I never noticed it before on my walks through Hudson River Park. I did not know if this was a piece of art work or just a message to someone.
The “I want to Thank You” sign in Hudson River Park
The last piece of art that stood out to me on this trip through Battery Park was entitled “Days End” by artist David Hammons. It looked like the shell of an empty building and struck a nerve as the sun started to set on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. It is an ‘Open Air’ sculpture that explores the history of the neighborhood (Whitney Museum).
Days End by artist David Hammons
Artist David Hammons
Mr. Hammons is an American born artist who studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (CalArts) and at Otis Art Institute. He is known for his Body Prints and sculpture work (Wiki/Artnet.com).
I headed up the thin stretch of park along Hudson River Park, I passed all the piers again that had become such a familiar site for me for not just The Great Saunter but for the neighborhood walks. I was able to judge where I was by the artwork and by the part of the park I had walked through. Since I have covered the whole island to 23rd Street, many of these sites I had remembered at previous times.
While I was walking through the parks, a few pieces of park sculpture stood out to me as I reached Hudson River Park in Chelsea. The long trek up Joe DiMaggio Highway made me more aware of my surroundings as I had to stop again. I came across the ‘Serpentine Sculptures’, these large twisting metal concoctions that graced the riverfront walkway.
‘Serpentine Sculptures’ in Hudson River Park
My review of Hudson River Park on TripAdvisor:
These interesting, twisted sculptures are by American artist Mark Gabian who holds a BA in Art History and BFA in Sculpture from Cornell University (my Alma Mater!). Mr. Gabian’s sculptures can be seen all over the world. The artist has been quoted as saying he created monumental site-specific commissions in two or three dimensions’ (the artist’s website).
Artist Mark Gabian
As I walked up Hudson River Park, I kept passing group after group of people on my way through the park. Everyone was pacing themselves but there are always those people that start jogging which I do not understand. They act like this is a contest and it is not the New York Marathon where we get judged for the time we keep. We just make it back to Fraunces Tavern and get our certificate.
When I reached West 13th Street near Pier 53, I passed the latest attraction in Manhattan, “Little Island”, a whimsical park that had just opened the year before and I still have not visited. I was going to take a detour for a bit and walk inside the park but I wanted to make it as far as I could up the West Side that morning. Still, it is place that I want to visit and is on my bucket list.
“Little Island” Park at West 13th Street
The “Little Island” looks like visiting “Whoville” in the “Grinch who stole Christmas” in the summertime. This well landscaped park is now two years old, and I still can’t believe that I have not visited it. For another day I told myself and made a mental note of it.
As I passed West 23rd Street, there were more pieces of art that I remembered from when I was walking these neighborhoods. When you enter Hudson River Park from West 23rd Street, there is a very unusual set of sculptures entitled ‘Two Too Large Tables’ by artists Allan and Ellen Wexler. Two Too Large Tables consists of two elements. Each is constructed of brushed stainless steel and Ipe wood.
One piece has thirteen chairs extended up to become columns that raise sixteen square feet plane seven feet off the ground. In the second piece, the same chairs act as supporters to lift a sixteen square feet plane 30 inches off the ground. The first functions as a shade pavilion, the second as a community table. As people sit, they become part of the sculpture. People sitting together, forming unusual pairings because of the chair groupings (Artist bio).
Two Too Large Tables in Hudson River Park (Artist bio)
Artist Allen Wexler
Artist Allen Wexler is an American born artist from Connecticut and studied at Rhode Island School of Design where he received his BFA and BS in Architecture. He studied and earned his MS in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. He is known for his multiple disciplines in art (Wiki).
The trip up Twelve Avenue is less than exciting. There is a tiny strip of park along the river that is mostly behind fencing. On the other side of the street is construction holes and fences from all the planned buildings that will start raising along the avenue.
The one place where there was some action was BLADE Operations at the Hudson River Park where helicopters were flying in. It reminded me of the opening scene of the Peter Bogdanovich film “They All Laughed” that I had just seen at the retrospect of the director’s work at the MoMA.
“They All Laughed” trailer by Peter Bogdanovich is a true Manhattan film
You will pass some very impressive buildings that are part of New York’s “Silicon Valley” including the well-known Starrett-Lehigh Building that has changed the complexity of the businesses in this neighborhood.
The Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street
The building was built and finished in 1931 for the Starrett Corporation and the Leigh Valley Railroad as a freight terminal. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Cory & Cory and in 1998 went through a renovation as a office building. It is currently going through another renovation that will be completed in 2023 (Wiki/Starrett-Leigh website).
As I crossed the street from Hudson River Park, I passed the renovations of Chelsea Waterside Park. This is the park where last year I started “The Great Saunter Walk” last year on the Summer Solstice. The park had a ‘Butterfly Garden’ that people were working the morning that I started the walk. The park is going through a full make over and the plans for it look amazing.
Chelsea Waterside Park at 557 West 23rd Street (Hudson River Park Archives)
The renovations are in the works right now
When you walk through Hudson River Park, it is the nicest place to take a rest and sit under a tree to cool off. The park has the most amazing breezes and views of the river and neighboring New Jersey.
As I was walking around one of the wooded piers admiring the view, I came a across a grouping of stones that looked unusual with the way that they were set. The grouping was a sculpture garden by artist Meg Webster entitled “Stonefield”.
“Stonefield” by artist Meg Webster
This landscape sculpture consists of large stones chosen from quarries in New York State and the northeast corner of Pennsylvania. They were selected for their special shapes and unusual sculptural qualities. Some are colorful, some are concave, some craggy, one is very tall. The artist views each stone as special and arranged each to showcase its unique characteristics and individual “being-ness” (Hudson River Park.com).
Artist Meg Webster
Ms. Webster is an American born artist who has a BA from Old Dominion University and MFA from Yale University. She works with natural materials such as salt, sand and earth known for her Post-Minimalism and the Land Art Movement. She is known for her sculpture and installation work (Wiki).
Artist Meg Webster talks about her artwork
As I passed the Hudson Yards complex at West 30th Street, it gleamed like “Oz” in the distance. This complex has now opened in full force since the Pandemic and the mall and all the parks have large crowds that I have not seen since most of it had been finished. I could tell the tourists have come back to the City.
The Hudson Yards complex in all its glory that morning
From West 23rd Street to West 57th Street I accelerated my walking as I wanted to get to my goal of West 60th Street before 9:00am. I passed many familiar sites from previous walks including the Circle Line at West 42nd Street where I started my first walk in 2020 and where I had spent my birthday pre-pandemic wanting to see the exterior of Manhattan, which was a real eye opener. The Intrepid Museum had just reopened a year and a half before and I made another mental note that I wanted to see that too (see my previous blog above on “The Great Saunter”).
Another familiar piece of art that I stopped to admire by Pier 96 was Malcolm Cochran’s artwork “Private Passage” again. I came across this sculpture when visiting the park two years earlier. The piece is a giant bottle and when you look in the port hole you will see a state room of the former Queen Mary. It is an interesting piece of artwork that is not hard to miss and take time to look in the port holes.
Private Passages in Hudson River Park
The inside of “Private Passages”
Artist Malcolm Cochran
The artist is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and is graduate of Wesleyan College who specializes in large sculptures.
Further up the park, I saw the old New York Transfer Station piece in Riverside Park. This is a relic of the old West Side Railroad tracks that were once part of the New York Central Railroad that the park and buildings behind it are built on. This transfer bridge once was used to attach railroad cars to the freight tracks that once ran up and down this part of the island (Forgotten New York).
The New York Central Transfer Station
It is interesting to see this now as a piece of art instead of a functioning part of the railroad, but it is fascinating to see how we use the parts of the past as a piece of art in the present. This shows the current park visitor how we have made new uses of the riverfront for recreation and pleasure which was not true during the early parts of the last century.
What was nice about having the new iPhone was that I was able to take much better pictures of all these wonderful sites and record them for the blogs. When I got home, I updated all the pictures on previous blogs, and they really showcase all these wonderful works in the West Side parks.
Hudson River Park was getting crowded with dog walkers and joggers by 8:30am and people were really out and about. We had to share a thin strip of walkway with everyone including the bikers who kept yelling at us to get out of the way. There are just too many people enjoying these parks at once. Still, I got some great shots in and made excellent time. By 8:45am, I made it to West 60th Street and stopped to head back to the hotel and get to class. I had to present my proposal for my NYU class to Paris this summer and did not want to go all sweaty and needed my computer as well.
So, I went to the Columbus Circle stop and headed back down to lower Manhattan where Maricel was still asleep. As I walked through the subway terminal, I passed the Underground Market, which is the food court that was so popular pre-COVID. After the City opened up, this food court was practically dead as most of the restaurants had closed due to the lack of people visiting and working in the area. It looked like it had finally started to come back (another mental note to visit it).
The Turnstyle Underground Market
The Turnstyle Underground Market has reopened and filling up again at the West 60th Columbus Circle subway stop.
I ran back to the hotel, changed my clothes and went to class at West 12th Street. i presented my walking project for the Left Bank of Paris, explained what we were doing and then listened to my classmate’s presentations. We finished by 1:00pm and I ran back to the hotel, changed back into my clothes, said goodbye to Maricel and checked my luggage and took the subway back to Columbus Circle. By the time I got up to the station, walked down West 59th Street and got back to Hudson River Park, it was past 2:00pm.
I resumed the walk at 2:30pm on the dot back on West 60th Street. The weather was still amazing, and I was convinced that I could finish the walk around 10:00pm. Oh, the day I had ahead of me was going to be a long one. The weather was utterly amazing so walking up the west side of the island was not so bad. It was not that hot, so it made walking pleasant in the later afternoon. I just don’t remember it taking that long to get to Inwood Park, which I would not get to until 5:00pm.
Along the way as I walked up Hudson River Park to Riverside Park at West 72nd Street, I saw a couple of people who had quit the walk. A couple with their baby must have gotten as far as Inwood Park and then made their way back down the West Side. They just smiled at me as I passed them.
Then at the extension of Dyckman Avenue by West 207th, I saw a group of four people who looked like they had just finished lunch and by their body language I could tell were done for the day. I passed them too. After that I did not see anyone on the walk until I got to Jefferson Park on the other side of the island in East Harlem as I was eating my dinner.
Not only was the weather very pleasant for the walk, so was walking through the parks. Everything was either in full bloom or had buds out and the parks looked really green. It was so beautiful to walk through them on this warm sunny day.
I made it up to West Harlem Piers Park 3:30pm and it was pretty busy on the sunny day. People were out walking their dogs, fishing on the pier or reading books at the benches. The park was not as messy as it normally is but the parks department people were out in full force the entire time I walked on the West Side so the parks were really clean. I stopped to take more pictures.
West Harlem Piers Park is a picturesque park
My review on TripAdvisor:
I passed the unusual sculptures, Voice One and Voice Two by artist Nari Ward, a New York based artist who likes to use objects found in his own neighborhood (artist website). They have become a marker for this walk on how far I have traveled. They are quite unique.
Artist Nari Ward
These unusual silver sculptures I almost interpreted as people trying to speak and it was interesting that the sculptures were called Voice I and Voice II. I was not sure of what the artist was trying to communicate with his artwork, but it does stand out in the park. The unfortunate part of it was that there was so much garbage in the park you could not get up close to see them.
I really enjoy this park. It has wonderful breezes and excellent views and plenty of places to sit down and relax. It offers such nice views of the river and as the morning progressed, I started to see more sailboats and water boats out cruising up and down the Hudson River.
While walking down the walkway to Fort Washington Park in 2023, I noticed these flock of seagulls in the cement barrier that I had noticed many times before. I did not realize how detailed they were until I really looked at them. This is what happens when you take your time to observe everything on this walk and not just rush by.
The seagulls wall
The seagulls wall
Passing this part of the park leads to the underpass that you have to walk through to get to Fort Washington Park, so you have a rather strange part of the walk near the treatment plant. If you can travel up to the sports facility, it is worth the trip. It really provides the neighborhood with all sorts of things to do. It also has a great snack shop, and their burgers are really good. When I entered Fort Washington Park, it was in full swing with barbecues and parties going on that afternoon. It is very different in the morning hours when the parks people are there cleaning up from the parties the night before.
Walking through Fort Washington Park during the walk in 2023
The George Washington Bridge in the distance when walking Fort Washington Park
Making my way to the George Washington Bridge
I got to Fort Washington Park around 4:00pm and was able to visit the Little Red Lighthouse which I had visited many times on my trips to the park. With everyone else being on the other side of the island at this point, the park was relatively quiet, and I got to take lots of pictures.
The George Washington Bridge with the Little Red Lighthouse below it. It inspired the children’s book, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” by author Hildegarde Swift.
The Little Red Lighthouse at Fort Washington Park
I continued on into Fort Washington Park to see the Little Red Lighthouse, which I had not visited in almost three years since my last walk in the neighborhood. Many tourists were by the site just under the George Washington Bridge, taking pictures by the lighthouse and enjoying the sunny weather.
The Little Red Lighthouse
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:
The Little Red Lighthouse had been constructed in 1889 and moved from Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1917 and moved here in 1921. It was decommissioned in 1948 after the construction of the George Washington Bridge in 1931. What had saved the lighthouse from destruction was the book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” by author Hildegarde Swift in 1942 (Wiki).
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift
The park was really quiet, so I got to enjoy the views on my own this time. I was able to finally take the pictures that I wanted and take my time exploring the park. It also has one of the few decent bathrooms in this area of the City. I looked downtown the area I had covered and was making very good time on this side of the island.
The view from under the George Washington Bridge from the Little Red Lighthouse to Lower Manhattan
On the way to Inwood Park from Fort Tyron Park, I passed the remnants of the old Tyron Hall estate. There is not much left but the entrance ways across the street and this balcony that looks over the river. You could tell at one time this must have been a very grand estate. It now makes up the framework for Fort Tryon Park where The Cloisters Museum is now located.
The Balcony of the old “Tryon Hall”
When you reach Fort Tyron Park by foot along the Henry Hudson Parkway, you will see two large stone columns that look like the entrance to an estate and then across the street there is a pillared overlook to the Hudson River. These are remnants of the former C.K.G. Billings estate, “Tryon Hall”.
The old entrance to the estate is covered with brush
Mr. Billings, the Chairman of Union Carbide, owned most land of which the park is located and theses small relics are the remains of the great estate. I had never been in this part of the park before and thought it interesting that these pieces of the estate were left.
The “Tryon Hall” estate of C.K.G. Billings.
Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings
The History of the Estate:
The archway and drive are still part of the park, and you can see them closer to The Cloisters Museum. The old driveway to the estate is still used inside the park.
The entrance to the old “Tryon Hall” estate in Inwood Park in 2023
I made the long trip up the hill from the park to enter the beginnings of Inwood Park and walked down to Dyckman Street to the Dyckman Street Beach and harbor area. People were out washing their cars and blasting music, and, in the distance, you could hear the yells of the baseball and softball games going on. I walked up the pier to take a better look at the beach and at least this time there was no garbage on it.
The Dyckman Street Beach is a small street of land on the Hudson River. I would not swim in it.
As I made my way through the bottom of Inwood Park, I stopped to take in the view of the Hudson River. I don’t think too many people know of the views from these parks on this part of the island, but they are really amazing.
The beauty of the Hudson River from Inwood Park
I made my way over the foot bridge in Inwood Park to the main part of the path and could not believe how beautiful the views were from the hills. When it rained last year, you could not enjoy it. All everyone wanted to do was get to the pavilion in Inwood Park so that we could dry off a bit and have something to eat and drink. Since I did not get there until 5:00pm, everyone was long gone (they closed this area down by 2:30pm).
I took my time snapping pictures, enjoying the view and admiring the Hudson River and the trees as they swayed by. The park was at its best at this time with the sun right above us. The paths and the lookouts were so picturesque.
The view from the top of the hill at Inwood Park
As I walked up and down the paths of Inwood Park, I took time to enjoy the views that Mother Nature offered me. I figured I was not racing with anyone to the finish line and would have plenty of time to get down to Fraunces Tavern.
Another view from the top of the hill path at Inwood Park
Heading down the pathway
The rock formations that make up the mountain stream
Following the path to the bottom of the hill
When I got to the bottom of the pathways and exited into the lawn area of the park, I saw a familiar giant boulder which is one of the most historic objects on the Island of Manhattan, the Shorakkopoch Rock.
The spot where Manhattan was bought by the Dutch
The rock is the legendary location of where Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the Reckgawawang Indians for what is today $24.00 of household goods and trinkets.
The Shorakkopoch Rock in Inwood Hill Park
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:
The transaction between Peter Minuit and the local Lenape Indians
I bypassed the rest of the park and made my way past all the basketball and softball games and went to the pavilion to see if anyone was left there and everyone was gone. When I looked at the schedule of the map, they had closed up at 2:30pm and it was now 5:00pm. I knew it would be getting dark by 7:45pm and I did not want to be walking through Harlem at night, so I made my way through Inwood and Washington Heights following the path set by the map. I stopped for a quick Coke and made my way down 10th Avenue to Dyckman Street.
All the street vendors were in full swing, selling everything on a busy weekend. I was going to stop at one of the bakeries, but I did not want to sway too far off the path, so I decided to stop at my favorite pizzeria on East 145th Street so I decided to wait to eat lunch there.
On the way down 10th Street, I saw a lot of interesting street art. I don’t know who the taggers were, but their work was very creative.
This was just off 10th Avenue near 203rd Street
I thought this was really creative in the right corner of the painting
I saw this on the side of condo and thought someone was really talented
I made my way past Dyckman Houses, which are always interesting because I keep thinking that someone is watching me from there. I always get that sinking feeling, so I make my way fast this development and get to the park to walk down the path along the East River. I got here by 5:30pm so I was making good progress.
As I walked down the Harlem River Drive pathway in Highbridge Park, the traffic was still really packed as people looked like they were still trying to leave the City for the weekend. At the beginning of the park, many people were having barbecues and birthday parties. All the tables were with families enjoying themselves. Once I passed all of them, the park was quiet. I noticed across the river in the Bronx how much of the waterfront had been built up with new condos and apartment buildings. I could not believe how much the developers were changing the waterfront.
The long curves of the park, the lush woods and rock formations show what was once the former shoreline of this part of the island. From this location it looks alike Inwood Hill Park with clean paths and virgin plantings. From a distance it looks really pretty.
High Bridge Park in Washington Heights
The reality of the park is that if you walk through the park you are faced with the over-grown paths, the graffitied rocks and garbage that parts of the park suffer from. When you walk through the paths on the other side of the park, you see how far the park has gone down and the work that still needs to be done. Abandoned cars and garbage still plaque parts of the park from the park side paths. Still the City is doing a lot to improve the park blocking off parts of te park to renovate it with seedings and new plantings.
The approach to the High Bridge Water Tower in High Bridge Park in 2023
I passed the old High Bridge Water Tower that I heard has finally reopened. The water tower and the bridge are the lasting remnants of the way water used to travel into New York City from upstate in the late 1800’s. The tower was built in 1872 and was part of the old Croton Aqueduct system of moving water into Manhattan.
High Bridge Water Tower
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:
This part of the park had no activity and, on the path, leading down to the old Polo Grounds there was not much activity. What always makes me nervous is walking around the Polo Ground Houses that run from West 165th Street to about West 155th Street. The complex is a tired looking set up public housing with one building looking exactly like the other and a small patch of green in the middle.
The Polo Ground Tower Housing Complex
All I kept thinking about is the activities that go on there and I zig-zagged my way down the sidewalk until I hit the part of the fence that was covered with trees and vines. Out of site from the prying windows. Ever since I read about the complex on the internet, I have never felt comfortable in this part of the City. This was before I walked all around the complex four years ago when I walked Harlem and didn’t think much about it. I walk around quickly in this neighborhood. Before I crossed the street, I looked at the John T. Brush staircase that used to bring people from the subway to stadium. I thought no one today except a few older New Yorkers would know the significance of this.
The John T. Brush Staircase that used to lead to the Polo Grounds
I crossed the street and walked down Edgecombe Avenue on the upper side of Jackie Robinson Park. On the corner of the edge of the street is the John Hooper Fountain at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The fountain was designed by architect George Martin Huss and is a ornamental horse fountain and lantern. It was dedicated in 1894 and donated to the park by businessman John Hooper (NYCParks.com/MichaelMinn.net). It was used by the horses for drinking when carriages and horse riding at that time.
The John Hooper Fountain is at the corner of Edgecombe Avenue and 155th Street in 2022
I finally got down to the Polo Grounds Public Housing and was able to get through that area pretty quickly. Hearing rumors about this place as well, I wanted to get past it and get to Edgecombe Avenue as soon as possible. The funny part about this area was pre-Pandemic this neighborhood was really gentrifying with many of the CUNY students moving into this area. It looked to me like it has retrenched a bit for now.
As I passed the benches by Jackie Robinson Park down the steps from this road, I saw small groups of people who made it their business to ignore me or were smoking pot and finding ways to try to hide it. It has been made legal, so I did not care. I finally made it to East 145th Street and made the turn and walked down the street.
East 145th Street has shown some real changes. Pre-Pandemic this was one of the fastest gentrifying areas of the neighborhood with new buildings going up, lots of new and more expensive restaurants and renovations of the old townhouses and brownstones. Having the students go virtual really put an end to it and the neighborhood has retrenched for now. There is still renovations going on but not like before where I would see CUNY students on their blankets in Jackie Robinson Park. That must have freaked out the neighborhood. CUNY will soon dominate this neighborhood again with a new apartment complex they want to build on the corner of East 145th Street and Sixth Avenue (Malcolm X Boulevard).
I stopped for a quick lunch at King Pizza of Harlem at 110 West 145th Street for a snack. I knew that I wanted a chopped cheese for dinner as I had for the last two years but again, I was starved. When I walked in, there was the same owner in the same place where I ordered my lunch. I just sat and relaxed.
King Pizza of Harlem at 110 West 145th Street
My review on TripAdvisor:
The cheese pizza is excellent. The sauce is so well spiced and topped with loads of mozzarella cheese. The slice was rather large and made a great snack. It was just pleasant to sit down and relax.
The slices at King Pizza are excellent! Don’t miss their delicious Cheese Pizza
The relaxation did not last very long as there was some big commotion outside the restaurant and I saw about four police cars surround this group of kids who started to run in every direction. There were kids of all ages yelling and running across the street in front of the restaurant. No one in the restaurant flinched at the whole thing so I figured the owner had seen all this before and was prepared if someone came into the pizzeria to cause problems. It was like watching a movie as the police cars pulled up in front of the pizzeria and groups of kids screaming at one another as they passed the window. That was my excitement for the afternoon.
As I made my way down Fifth Avenue from 143rd Street, I stopped again to look at the obelisk that is located on a tiny triangle near the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 142nd Street. The Monument is the 369 Infantry Regiment Memorial dedicated to the all-black unit that fought so valiantly in World War I with the Fourth French Army. It sits on a small triangle as you are crossing the bridge to get to the riverfront promenade. I don’t think many people even notice it.
The 369th Infantry Regiment Memorial in 2023
I passed the memorial and walked across the street to the bridge that led to Harlem River Park, a small stretch of river promenade that goes to East 135th Street. Since the park looked like it was getting a small renovation, I got off earlier at East 138th Street and walked down Madison Avenue to East 135th Street where I saw the same homeless guy from last year panhandling people coming off FDR Drive. He was still standing in the same dangerous location where he could be hit by a car at any time. I could not believe he was still in the same spot at the same time as last year. Things don’t change.
The Street Art at Harlem River Park that I admired the year before
Words of Wisdom on the wall in Harlem River Park
The paintings on the wall at Harlem River Park
The close up shot of the paintings
I made a turn into the courtyard of the Lincoln Houses to see the statute of Abraham Lincoln with Child statute at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue. No one was around so I was able to take some good pictures of the statue. The last time I had stopped to see it a group of kids just gave me a funny look when I entered the public housings walkway, so I did not venture in. This time around there was no one there and I got this excellent picture of the statue.
Lincoln and Child at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue in the Lincoln Houses in 2023
The statue was designed by artist Charles Keck. Mr. Keck was an American born New York artist who studied at the National Academy of Design and the Arts Students League of New York. He was best known for his work on statues and monuments.
Artist Charles Keck
I got down Fifth Avenue rather quickly and made my way to East 128th Street where I walked to Second Avenue. It was funny how everyone did everything they could to ignore me. It was really funny. All the people on the street watched me through the corner of their eyes but did everything they could to turn away from me. It was very subtle.
On the way down the street, I passed P.S. 30 and its wonderful painting on the side of the school. I thought the kids were really creative. The schools were all closed today, and the area was really quiet. When I walked this neighborhood about five years ago during the school year this place is bustling with kids and parents especially with after school programs.
The painting on the side PS 30
As I turned the corner and made my way down Second Avenue, I passed the Taino Towers which look like they are still under a renovation of the complex. Still, you can see this wonderful mural from a distance on the side of the building.
Artist Don Rimx painted a mural of Nuyorocan poet Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera. The painting had been unveiled in 2017 (long after my visit to the neighborhood) and 123rd Street was renamed after the poet (Street Art NYC).
The mural of Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera at Taito Towers at 122nd Street and Second Avenue
Artist Don Rimx
Mr. Rimx was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in 2009 moved to Brooklyn and then in 2014 to Florida. He graduated from Central High School of Visual Arts and Escuela Des Arts Plasticas. He is known for his use of styles in art and culture and known for his murals (Artist Bio).
I crossed Second Avenue to the Wagner Houses complex. People were having all sorts of picnics and barbecues inside and outside the Wagner Houses. The lawns of this complex are always busy. The funny part of this neighborhood again like other sections of Harlem before the Pandemic was in full gentrification mode.
All the brownstones were under scaffolding when I passed the last time, and they were still there. All the new buildings around the Wagner Houses started look old and it was getting seedy again. It did not look like that before the Pandemic.
The Wagner Houses
I passed the monument to Robert Wagner Sr. which had not been damaged during the riots in 2020. I guess people had other things to worry about at the time. It still stands like a guard on the complex.
The Robert Wagner Sr. sculpture in the Wagner Playground by artist Georg John Lober
Artist Georg John Lober
Georg John Lober was an American artist from Chicago who studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and worked for the New York City Municipal Art Commission for seventeen years.
Pleasant Avenue was once home to the East Harlem “Little Italy” and the ‘Dance of the Giglio’ takes place here every August outside the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (See Day Eighty-Four The Feast of Our Lady of Carmel and the Dancing of the Giglio). Now it is becoming a gentrified neighborhood and I saw many people eating in outdoor cafes or shopping at the local mall.
I stopped for lunch in both 2020, 2021,2022 and 2023 at Blue Sky Deli (now Chopped Cheese Delicious) at 2135 First Avenue for a Chopped Cheese. I swear I make any excuse to come up here and have that sandwich.
The Chopped Cheese Delicious (Blue Sky Deli) has a cult following
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
The ‘Chopped Cheese’ is a cult sandwich made up of two chopped hamburgers topped with American cheese, chopped lettuce and tomato with salt, pepper and spices and then pressed. It is like heaven with every bite. I took my sandwich into Thomas Jefferson Park, which is currently under renovation and ate my sandwich. After I was finished, I had the energy to continue the walk downtown.
I stopped in Thomas Jefferson Park to have my dinner and people watch. There were parties all over the park at this time. It was just about 6:45pm when I sat down for dinner and could see the sun patterns changing. I took my time to eat but I wanted to get on my way. I wanted to be at Midtown before it got dark. I enjoyed every bite of my sandwich.
The Chopped Cheese Sandwich at Blue Sky Deli (Harlem Taste Deli)
The delicious Chopped Cheese Sandwich
Before I left Thomas Jefferson Park, I came across another piece of art that I had not noticed on my many visits to the park. The sculpture located in the middle of the park is entitled “Tomorrow’s Wind” by artist Melvin Edwards. The sculpture is made of welded steel and is tilted so that it reflects the sun. The piece was placed in the park in 1995 (NYCParks.org).
“Tomorrows Wind” in Thomas Jefferson Park
Artist Melvin Edwards
Mr. Edwards is an American born artist from Texas. He is known for his known for his abstract steel sculptures. He graduated with a BFA from University of Southern California and studied at the Los Angeles Art Institute.
I left the park around 7:00pm and made my way down the East Side Promenade. By this point, I figured everyone who had done the walk was all already down at Fraunces Tavern. My goal was to get there by 10:00am but to walk the entire East Side in three hours would be a lot. I was determined to get the job done.
The only problem with doing this walk at this time of night is that all the public bathrooms are closed by 6:00pm so it made for an uncomfortable walk after a while. I was lucky I went to the bathroom before I left Jefferson Park, but I knew by the time I got to Carl Schulz Park on East 81st Street the bathrooms might be closed.
I was passing Hell Gate before getting to Carl Schulz Park
When I arrived at Carl Schulz Park, the bathrooms were closed, and I found out most of the park’s bathrooms would be closed all the way down the East Side. I knew this would eventually be a problem. For right now, it would be smooth sailing down the East Side, and I was making good time.
As twilight hit, I saw the lights come on at Roosevelt Island
Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island stood in the distance.
The trip down the East side to York Avenue via the promenade was not problem and then down to John Jay Park at East 78th Street and then down York Avenue to Sutton Place and then down to East 53rd Street to First Avenue and again smooth sailing. Then it really started to get dark outside as it was now almost 9:00pm and the streetlights came on. This is when the trip became interesting.
The East Side Promenade by the United Nations at 42nd Street was closed, and I could not get in. So, I had to walk down to East 35th Street and take the East Side Promenade for about two blocks and then I was back on First Avenue. This is when the fun began. With all the promenades closed for renovations, I made my way down the main roads, and I tried to get to the parks lining the river.
The last picture I took of the lower East Side before all the fun began
Later when I got home, I reread the emails sent to me by Shorewalkers and did not realize that all these promenades were closed and there would be people to direct us. At this time of night, they were long gone, and I was on my own. I ran into two guys at that I had seen get on at East 110th Street when I left Jefferson Park and saw them again at the East 23rd Street entrance to the promenade there. It was fenced off and being landscaped. He asks me, “What do we do now?” “Head South and walk down,” I said as I made my way what I found out later on was Avenue C. I walked Avenue C by myself in the dark until I hit East 13th Street and figured I would go east and head to the promenade from there. I did not realize the whole thing was closed.
I found myself walking down Avenue D from East 13th Street until I hit East Houston Street eleven blocks down the street. This is when I felt like Griffin Dunne in the movie “After Hours”. The walk from here could not be more surreal.
This is the way the rest of the evening went for me!
If you don’t know what Avenue D is like in ‘Alphabet City’ in the East Village, it is where people used to and probably still do go to to score drugs. Walking past the Con Ed Power plant at 9:30pm at night was bad enough with how dark it was but to walk next to the projects being 6:3 in a green polo and a number stuck to my shorts, I must have stuck out to these people, and they seemed to disappear. I was oblivious to how quiet the streets were getting until I looked at the street sign and realized I was on Avenue D. I did everything I could to walk as fast as I could down the street without making it look obvious.
I was parched at this point, and I needed something to drink, and I had to stop and get a Coke. I stopped in a bodega to something to drink and did I get a look from the guy at the counter. He looked at me like ‘where did you come from?” Then he went back to the couple arguing about the price a pack of water. I bought the Coke and was drinking it outside when two very young NYPD officers were standing a few doors down watching me. They said hello to me and I said hi back. The looks on their faces were interesting too.
I finally got to East Houston Street and tried to walk to the end of it toward the park but again there was not entrance to the park anywhere. I gave up with that and decided to head south to get around this area and get to the South Steet Seaport. This is when the more fun began because I had not been in this part of the East Village since 1994, I did not know the street names and my Google Maps on my phone was not working. So, I took the first street, which was Baruch Street and walked down that. Talk about desolate.
There was no one on the street and walked down this gloomy dark street until there was a section where the lights were on, and I walked faster. I finally made it to Delancy Street and finally started to recognize the street names. I saw the lights of the bridge and figured to go the other way. Don’t ask me how, I must have gotten mixed up in the darkness and walked down Ridge Street and ended up near the police station. I then did a turnaround and found myself walking down Broome which I did not realize was Broome and walked north.
Somehow, I ended up walking north on Avenue C and then got caught up in all the bars, where at this time at night drunken college undergraduates were spilling out of all the bars and restaurants and had to dodge them for a few blocks walking fast and ended back up on Houston Street. I was completely confused by this and had to get my bearings straight because I had just walked a few blocks north. I then walked across 2nd Street and ended up on the bar scene on Avenue B not realizing that I was there. More drunk college students surrounded me and then I walked south and finally ended up back at Delancy Street.
I walked to the end of Delancy Street to see if there was an entrance to the promenade but there was nothing here either, so I walked down Colombia Street and finally reached Grand Street and knew where I was, so I walked west and made it to East Broadway. Knowing now it was after 10:00pm and walking down by the river would not be safe (like walking down Avenue D and all through the Public Housing Projects was), walked the length of East Broadway to get to Chinatown, which the fringes have been gentrified and had to endure more drunk college students and hipsters.
I walked down south to Pearl Street and then to the City Hall area going south. It got quiet again and then made my way down Pearl Street to Water Street and finally got into Fraunces Tavern at 11:30pm. I could not believe I made it dodging homeless people in the shadows, freaked out cops and drunken college students only to get to Fraunces Tavern and everyone being gone.
I talked to two bartenders and both of them looked at me like I was nuts. The first one did not know what I was talking about when I asked if any representatives were left from The Great Saunter walk. The second said there were a few people in the bar who had been on the walked but could not tell me who was who. So, I went to the bathroom and left.
That was not the worst. Since Maricel could not get the room another night, I had to walk back to the hotel, grab my things which were in storage and the door was locked. I had to show the guard my old room key, grab my luggage and make my way back to the Oculus and take the subway back to Port Authority to take the 12:50am bus back home. Well, the A and E were not working that night because of repairs so I had to take the J to 14th Street and then take the A which was running on a different line back to Port Authority.
It gets even better because the 12:50am bus never came and the 1:00am bus left from the basement door not the third floor. Everyone who was waiting with me upstairs now had to go to the basement to catch the 1:20am bus. I made the bus lugging all my luggage with me. I did not get home until two in the morning, and this is after 33 miles around the island through all the craziness of the last two hours.
I got to bed at 3:00am and did not wake up until 9:45am the next morning. The silver lining was I survived and walked my fifth time around the island and completed The Great Saunter after all that. I will attempt it again in the summer.
Another great walk on The Great Saunter! I don’t think Griffen Dunne could have done better!