Tag Archives: Manhattanville

La Perla Community Garden

Day Eighty-Three: Walking the Streets of Manhattan Valley/Bloomingdale from West 110th to West 96th Streets from Central Park West to Riverside Drive August 3rd-9th, 2017

It took a couple of days to give the neighborhood a long walk, but I covered all the space in three days. This is such an interesting neighborhood and so many people took an interest in what I was doing over in the time I spent here.

It was hot and humid my first day in Manhattan Valley at 81 degrees. I got up to neighborhood in the later afternoon after a long day wrapping spoons at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. It may not sound that exciting but it is one of the most important  stations at the kitchen. You need a constant supply of silverware to help feed everyone.

I started the walk at the E subway station on the edge of Central Park. On a hot day, the park was packed with people getting a tan, fishing in the Meer, walking their dogs or just hanging out. This part of the summer is nice because the tourists are walking around and it is fun to watch them make a fuss at everything.

Harlem Meer.jpg

Harlem Meer in northern Central Park

The first couple of blocks along 109th and 108th Streets are filled with prewar apartment buildings, schools and small playgrounds and many small brownstones. A lot of the buildings in this area are being sandblasted back to their former glory. Closer to the parks, the buildings have an elegant feel with their carved marble fronts and small gardens and potted plants decorated them. The sign of a doorman says that this area is getting more expensive.

On 107th Street, I saw many beautiful buildings in various stages of renovation on all the blocks as this are is beginning to become part of the Upper West Side fabric. Many of the small brownstones along Manhattan Avenue had been swept in their fronts and their plants were in full bloom. Again, I love the block between 106th and 107th Streets. Tucked in between all those little mansions and brownstones is The Nicholas Roerich Museum at 319 West 107th Street

Nicholas Roerich Museum.

The tiny Nicholas Roerich Museum is packed with interesting art

The Museum was founded in 1949 to house a permanent collection of over two hundred paintings by the Russian-born artist, poet, philosopher and humanitarian, Nicholas Roerich. The museum also houses a library of books and maintains an archive and a collection of artifacts relating to the areas of Roerich’s interests (Museum guide).

Nicholas Roerich Museum I

The art at the museum has a Asian influence to it

When you reach Riverside Drive, there is a beautiful line of old marble mansions that line the drive from 106th to 105th Streets. These were built at a time when money was no object and living along the park was a sophisticated choice. These homes are all being renovated and one wonders if they are going to become private homes again. When rounding 107th Street along Riverside Park, take time to look at these homes from the park side and you can imagine the view they have from the front of these homes.

I walked all around Riverside Park in this part of the neighborhood and it is just beautiful when the trees are in full form. The shade trees and paths offer refuge from the hot sun and it is fun to watch the neighborhood kids play in the playgrounds with their parents and nannies. It is nice to see a group of kids enjoying nature and not glued to a cell phone. From the park, these are the most gorgeous views of the Hudson River with the cliffs in New Jersey in the background and a constant stream of boats in the river passing you by.

Riverside Park 110th Street II

Riverside Park is just breathtaking

I made a lunch stop at SheShe Pizzeria at 961 Columbus Avenue at 107th Street (See my TripAdvisor review and my blog DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@ WordPress.com). This small pizzeria has delicious food with the most reasonable lunch specials. Their lunch menu has ten lunch specials for $5.00 including a personal pizza with pepperoni that I had with a Coke for lunch.

sheshe pizza

SheShe Pizza at 961 Columbus Avenue

This small ten inch pizza was freshly cooked for me by the owner of the restaurant. It was loaded with pepperoni and cheese and when it came out of the oven was cut into four generous slices. The sauce is flavorful and the slices are all stringy and gooey with the melted cheese. It is the perfect lunch/dinner if you have a good appetite. Their spaghetti and meatballs was terrific too that I had another day I was in the neighborhood for lunch. The service is very warm and welcoming and he remembered me from a few days earlier.

To work off all this good food, stop back at the ‘Mobilize for Change’ Community Garden across the street at the corner of 107th Street and Columbus Avenue and stroll through the gardens again. The gardens are in full bloom and it is a nice place to just walk around the paths and look at the progress of the individual vegetable gardens. The tomatoes are really coming in.

Mobilization for Change Community Garden II.jpg

Mobilization for Change Community Garden

One  the most beautiful buildings in the neighborhood along Central Park West and 106th Street is 455 Central Park West, the old New York Cancer Hospital. Years ago when I was walking around the neighborhood, this was an abandoned building that was all boarded up and graffiti ladened.  Now it is park of an exclusive apartment complex. The hospital part of the apartment building was build in 1887 with additions in 1889 and 1890. It  was designed by architect Charles Coolidge Haight in the French Chateaux style with English Gothic trim (City Realty).

New York Cancer Hospital II

To live in the Victorian section of the building must cost now millions of dollars. The whole building was renovated back to life and is one of the most unusual pieces of architecture in the neighborhood with an incorporated tower behind it. It is also rumored to be haunted.

New York Cancer Hospital

455 Central Park West the old New York Cancer Hospital is now luxury condos

In between Columbus and Manhattan Avenues on 105th Street is the La Perla Community Garden. The garden was created around 1992 when a group of neighborhood citizens got together to clean out a garbage dump of a lot and turned it into a vibrant garden with paths leading through trees, flower and vegetable beds. There is even original graffiti art from one of the local artists all along the walls of the building that surround it.

La Perla Community Garden.png

La Perla Community Garden

I talked with one of the creators of the garden, Carmen Ortiz, talked with me that afternoon. “It took about ten years to clean the lot out and that was constantly throwing out the garbage to the curb just to get all the debris out. We have worked so hard to create and maintain the garden and now a piece of it is being sold off.” Currently the middle part of the garden was owned by two couples but the taxes are getting too high and the neighborhood is changing so fast, that it was cost effective to sell it. Now the left side of the garden will be a new townhouse while the rest of the garden will remain.

“It’s sad because we do so much for the community here,” Ms. Ortiz added. “We will be having a flea market this weekend and have Jazz Concerts here. During the holidays, we have events for the neighborhood children. You can see by the plantings, everyone has a plot here.” Several raised beds contain various vegetable plantings. I just hope that building this new townhouse does not affect the garden to the point where nothing can grow there. Its a sad commentary to the city when something that New Yorkers spent their time on to make better improved the neighborhood to the point that it was its own demise in the end.

Along West 104th Street between Central Park West and Manhattan Avenue, you will see another set of Community Gardens which is interesting because the plot has a prewar apartment building right smack in the middle of it. The center piece of this garden is the Jesus Crawford Rose Garden which was just losing the last of its blooms when I visited it. This was named after the creator of the garden.

Mobilization for Change Community Garden.jpg

Community Garden

Just like ‘Le Perla’ and ‘Mobilization for Change’ gardens, this garden has added much needed green space to the neighborhood with trees and raised vegetable gardens that add that sense of neighborhood to the street. At the height of the summer, it is nice to see all of these gardens in full bloom and the fresh vegetables on their way.

Walking through the Douglass Houses and the projects in general are always amusing to me. I never know the reception I will get. For the most part, I crisscrossed through the walkways of the projects from 104th to 100th Street. I visited all the playgrounds and community areas to sit and people just ignored me but looked out of the corner of their eyes to see what I was doing.

Douglass Houses NYC.jpg

Douglass Houses

I watched some kids playing on the swings and some people attending the community gardens that they had planted but for the most part I saw a lot of socialization along Columbus Avenue. Many groups of men set up tables and while blasting Spanish music played cards and domino’s and watched the neighborhood go by. I am sure that for all the game playing these guys know perfectly well what is going on around them and the surrounding buildings. That struck me as watching everything.

Its at 100th Street where Manhattan Valley joins the rest of the Upper West Side as new office and apartment buildings have been built along Columbus, Amsterdam and Broadway. This area is guarded by a police and fire station around the corner so there is action here all day long.

You can go to the bathroom either in Fredrick Douglass Park near 104th Street or at the Whole Foods at 100th Street. Stick with Whole Foods as it is cleaner and cooler plus you can use the water fountain.

When I was walking in between Riverside and West End Avenues, I came across a community bench designed by artist Linus Coraggio who lives on the block (website: LinusCoraggio@verison.net). It just so happened the artist was outside fixing his motorcycle and we got to talking about his work.  He showed me the bench and all its detail work. He had lived in the area for many years and had watched it change from bad to better.

Linus Corragio.jpg

Artist Linus Coraggio

https://linuscoraggio.com/

His current specialty is welded, crafted figurative and abstract sculpture and furniture. I even read online that Ringo Starr is one of his clients. He was showing the work he was doing on the brownstone he was living in, doing work around the railing and in the foyer of the building all the ceiling work. His attention to detail and to how the work flows is a sign that he takes his time with each piece. It is an interesting set of artwork with all sorts of bends and twists to the metal work.

Check out this YouTube Trailer on the artist

He even has a chair he created right in front of the building. It twists and turns and the metal work is extremely creative in that you can tell the detail and the amount of time to get the metal to work in this fashion. You almost don’t want to sit in it. He told me he currently has a show going on in the East Village and a studio up in Ellenville, NY. Just stop on this block alone to see his craftsmanship. It is beautiful.

On 99th Street just off Amsterdam Avenue, there is the Church St. Michael’s Parish at 225 West 99th Street, which has the nicest garden to sit in. It is a nice place to relax and just think. Tranquil is the word for it.

Church of Saint Michael

The Church of Saint Michael at 225 West 99th Street

It is beautifully planted and everything was in full bloom. It was nice to just stop and take a break here. Take a look at their postings as they have a lot of activities going on.

A couple of mornings later, I came back to finish the bottom part of the neighborhood and walked 96th Street again to see how the neighborhood transitions. The streets between 96th and 98th Streets are filled with smaller marble brownstones and many attractive prewar apartments. There are a lot of businesses transitioning along these streets as I see many of the older businesses now sitting empty with ‘For Rent’ signs telling the rents are changing in this part of the neighborhood as well. Soon they will be filled with the next wave of chain stores and glitzy restaurants.

This part of the neighborhood was easy to walk because the Central Park West Apartments and their playground stop the side streets between 98th to 99th Streets and the rest of the complex is gated off. My suggestion is do not try to walk through the complex because the signs are very blatant that they are watching you. You can see from the streets though there is a large parking lot and several well landscaped paths surrounding the buildings. I was just surprised they built these and the projects right next to one another.

Central Park West Towers

Central Park West Towers have a lot of security

I stopped at Telo Deli at 23 West 100th Street for some of their homemade empanadas ($1.25). They were so good I had to go back a second time for another which made the man behind the counter pretty happy. Try the pizza and chicken ones. They are generously filled and cooked perfectly. It is a good place to stop for a reasonable snack.

My last part of the day before I walked across Central Park to start my trip to Coney Island for my ‘Q to Q subway trip’ from 96th Street on the East Side to Coney Island on Stillwell Avenue, I stopped back at SheShe Pizzeria at 961 Columbus Avenue, to try one more thing on the lunch special menu. This was one of the inspirations for my new blog “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com’. For $5.00, these lunches are exceptional.

sheshe pizza.png

SheShe Pizza

I tried the side order of ziti with meatballs and it was more than a side order. You got a very generous portion  of perfectly cooked ziti with about three fresh meatballs that were sliced on top and then put under the broiler. I could just about finish it. The meatballs had a nice garlicky taste to them and the sauce was well spiced. It looked like the owner was happy to see me again. I will be back again for another personal pizza.

As I finished my walk of Manhattan Valley, I really felt that neighborhood aspect of this community. For a section of a major city, this had a small town friendly feel about it. The people here, no matter where they live want this to be the best community it can be and I was impressed by all the free time the residents donate to make it that way. Whether it was Carmen Ortiz and her partner in the garden, Bob, spending their time weeding beds to Linus Coraggio donating his creativity to building a bench for people to relax in to the guys playing dominoes watching what everyone was doing, I could feel the sense of neighborhood here.

The residents here really care.

 

Places to Eat:

 

Telo Deli

23 West 100 Street

New York, NY  10025

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

SheShe Pizza

961 Columbus Avenue

New York, NY  10025

(212) 222-7201

sheshepizzatogo.com

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5007563-Reviews-Sheshe_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/174

 

 

Places to visit:

 

Linus Coraggio Bench

West 100th Street Between Riverside Drive and West Side Drive

https://linuscoraggio.com

 

St. Michael’s Parish Church Garden

225 West 99th Street

New York, NY  10025

(212) 222-2700

http://www.saintmichaelschurch.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d548868-Reviews-Church_of_St_Michael-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Jesus Crawford Rose Garden

West 104th Street

New York, NY  10025

 

Le Perla Community Garden

76 West 105th Street

New York, NY  10025

https://livinglotsnyc.org/lot/58547/

https://www.facebook.com/laperlagarden/

 

Mobilization of Change Community Garden

955 Columbus Avenue

New York, NY  10025

https://www.facebook.com/MFCGarden/

 

Nicholas Roerich Museum

319 West 107th Street

New York, NY  10025

(212) 864-7752

Hours:

Monday: Closed

Tuesday-Friday: 12:00pm-4:00pm

Saturday-Sunday: 2:00pm-5:00pm

Closed: Major holidays

Admission: Admission is free, though donations are welcome.

http://www.roerich.org

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136141-Reviews-Nicholas_Roerich_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2002

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 known 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

West Harlem Piers 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

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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