Tag Archives: Walking Washington Heights

Sylvan Terrace

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

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

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

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

191th Subway Station.jpg

191st Subway Station is ever changing.

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

190 Street Subway Station

190th Street Subway Station

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

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

Esmeraldo Bakery III

Esmeraldo Bakery 538 West 181st Street

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

Esmeraldo Bakery

The pastries at Esmeraldo Bakery are delicious and reasonable

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

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

morris-jumel mansion II

The Morris-Jumel Mansion

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

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

Sylvan Terrace and Morris-Jumel Mansion

Sylvan Terrace

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

Morris-JUmel Mansion gardens

Morris-Jumel Mansion gardens in the summer months

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

Morris-Jumel Historic District

Morris-Jumel Historic District

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

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

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

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

El Manantial Bakery

El Manantial Bakery at 325 St. Nicolas Avenue

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

El Manantial Bakery II

El Manantial Bakery has a wonderful selection of goodies

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

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

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

High Bridge Park III

High Bridge Park

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

 

Places to Visit:

 

High Bridge Park

190th & Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10040

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

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

 

Sylvan Terrace Houses

Between 161st and 160th Street

New York, NY 10032

Sylvan Terrace: A Hidden Gem In Washington Heights

 

Morris-Jumel Mansion & Historic District

65 Jumel Terrace

Washington Heights, NY 10033

(212) 923-8008

http://www.morrisjumel.org/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Places to Eat:

 

Esmeraldo Bakery

538 West 181 Street

New York, NY  10033

(212) 543-2250

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

El Manantial Bakery

1220 Saint Nichols Avenue

New York, NY  10033

(212) 795-0055

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

 

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

Gorman Park

Day Eighteen: East Side of Broadway Washington Heights from Wadsworth Terrace to Wadsworth Avenue West 187th to 173rd Street October 9th, 2015

I’m back in Washington Heights again traveling on the East side of Broadway and exploring all the side streets. I started my day walking along the length of 187th Street. I swear I find some great bakeries and restaurants in the neighborhood.

I started with a snack at the Grullon Bakery II at 575 West 187th Street. This local bakery has a wonderful selection of Dominican pastries and meat pies. The pastelitos here are really good. The chicken filling is spiced well and fried crisp. Their cubanos stuffed pastries are wonderful as well. They are similar to the pastelitos but a different dough and a sweeten outside.

Grullon Bakery

Grullon Bakery II at 575 West 187th Street (Closed 2021)

All of their meat pastries run around $1.00 so it makes a nice travelling snack. Also check out some of their sweetened pastries as well. I have to say one thing, the staff   seemed very amused by me eating there. I figured they don’t see too many customers who are not Dominican.

I was able to walk the whole distance of Wadsworth Avenue before nightfall. Now that the days are getting shorter, its harder to walk the distance before it gets too dark. Wadsworth is lined with many beautiful pre-war apartments but one section that is really nice is by Fairview Avenue with buildings that are shaped by the curvature of the road. Take a good look up and really look at this building. Its design is really unique and the look of the apartments inside must be interesting.

Walking down Fort George Avenue it seemed to me that everyone is obsessed with washing their cars. All up and down the street, everyone was power washing their cars and trucks so be on the lookout for streams of water. This is quite a walk up and down the hill passing the upper part of High Bridge Park which is loaded with trash in this part of the park. Even though this part of the park is loaded with interesting rock formation, it isn’t well taken care of and loaded with weeds.

I walked through Amelia Gorman Park off Wadsworth Avenue, which is unusual as the park starts on Broadway and you walk up the steps to the sitting area up above. It offers a nice view the surrounding area and the parks on the other side of the island. When you walk up the many flights of stairs, you will notice this park is also filled with weeds. The sitting area at the top of the park offers many benches and just as many nice views.

The park is dedicated to Gertie Amelia Gorman, a real estate investor at the request of her family. It is a nice place to relax after a long day of walking. Her daughter, Gertie Emily Webb gave the City Parks system $25,000 for the establishment of the park and a $50,000 trust to maintain it (NYCParks.com).

Gorman Park II

Amelia Gorman Park on Wadsworth Terrace

I walked the whole length of Wadsworth Avenue and back and then I started the length of St. Nicholas Avenue when night fell. I just walked one side of the road on the way back to the subway station. There is a lot of hustle on the avenue with street vendors hawking their wares and small food vendors selling ices, juices, pastelitos and fresh fruit. The stores that line this section of the block are loaded with life as everyone is rushing around either looking or buying.

For dinner that evening, I stopped at El Malecon Restaurant at 4141 Broadway. I passed the restaurant many times on the walk up and down Broadway and it offers a very interesting menu of Dominican, Caribbean and Spanish dishes. I had their chicken quesadilla there was served with fresh guacamole, which were freshly fried and bursting with flavor and then had the Shrimp with Garlic Sauce with a mound of rice and a side of beans.

El Malecon

El Malecon at 4141 Broadway in Washington Heights

The portion sizes are very big so come prepared with a big appetite. The service can be a little rough if you don’t speak Spanish that well but they will try to help you with the menu. The place should not be missed when travelling up this way.

El Malecon II

Their Shrimp with Garlic Sauce was excellent

On the way back to the subway, I noticed that people are still outside in the cool night air playing dominoes and cards. Even in the cool weather, the island way of life still rings true in this neighborhood and it feels a whole lot safer.

Places to Visit:

High Bridge Park

190th & Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10040

(212) 639-9675

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

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

Open:  Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:00pm

Amelia Gorman Park

Wadsworth Terrace & 188th-190th Streets

New York, NY  10040

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/amelia-gorman-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/amelia-gorman-park/history

Open Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:00pm

Places to Eat:

El Malecon Restaurant

4141 Broadway

New York, NY 10033

(212) 927-3812

http://maleconrestaurants.com/

Open: Sunday 8:30am-2:00am/Monday -Thursday 8:30am-1:00am/Friday & Saturday 8:30am-2:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d479178-Reviews-El_Malecon_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Grullon Bakery II (Closed 2021)

575 West 187th Street

New York, NY 10033

(212) 740-1190

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

The Indian Caves in Inwood Park

Day Ten and Eleven: Visiting Inwood Parks going up and down hills September 15th-16th, 2015

I  wanted to get off the beaten track of the streets today, especially since it was so hot out and explore the paths of the parks in the area. Inwood has so many beautiful parks, rock formations, valleys and peaks that when you walk the remote paths to the middle of Inwood Hill Park, with the exception of a train passing by, you would never know that you were in Manhattan and not in the middle of the wilderness.

I started the day at 218th Street and started my walk of Inwood Hill Park (See review on TripAdvisor).  I walked the Muscota Marsh at 218 Indian Hill Road (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com) part of the Columbia campus, again at low tide and observed the many birds that call the marsh home. More people were enjoying their day at the park and all over the ball fields and lawns people were enjoying baseball games, soccer and picnics. There was a lot of activity at the upper end of the park and as you start the walk up the hill into the paths leading to the woods, you really are transported to another world.

Muscota Marsh

Muscota Marsh at 218 Indian Hill Road near the Columbia Stadium

As I walked the paths to the upper reaches of the park, I was reminded that once upon a time when Manhattan was all wooded and what the Dutch must of thought of Manhattan when they arrived. It is quite the experience walking around the park in the middle of the afternoon and no one is around this part of the park. For the all the ballgames and soccer games below, it is peaceful, relaxing and a sense of tranquility  is the feeling you get as you walk along the hills and valleys of the park. These are things that you don’t see from the apartment buildings and streets below.

The upper paths of the park offer logs to sit and relax on, the view of Indian Caves, beautiful rock formations and dozens of types of wildflowers along the paths. When walking this part of the park, wind down multiple paths before reaching street level. There is lots to see in the middle of the park and if you want to be by yourself this is the part of the park you want to be in.

Indian Caves Inwood Park

The Indian Caves in Inwood Hill Park

As you exit the park by Dyckman Street, make a left and head back to the pier and little beach at the end of the street. It is a nice place to relax after a long walk around the park. Enter the park from the lower side of Dyckman Street and enter the ball fields. On a busy Saturday, I watched a soccer game that had the intensity of an Olympic match. It was the Mexicans vs the Mexicans and you could feel the pressure from the fans. There were loads of families watching the game and picnicking by the river. What was nice was the food carts offering all sorts of Mexican food choices at very reasonable prices.

A special note when walking this section of Inwood is that there are lots of choices of places to go to the bathroom. You have the public bathrooms under the bridge, you have the public bathrooms in the playground on the corner of Dyckman Street and Payson Avenue and at the local library by the corner of Dyckman Street and Broadway.

I crossed Dyckman Street and walked into the Fort Tyron Park. At the beginning of the park is Lt. William Tighe Park Triangle. This park was open today and offered much relief from walking around Broadway. The park was named after William Tighe, a decorated veteran of two wars and a local resident (NYCParks).

william tighe park

William Tighe Park at Dyckman Street and Broadway

This little gem of a park reminds us of the positive benefits when a neighborhood of volunteers ban together to create a little park so magical and polished. There is a little pool full of golden fish to the back of this little pocket park, colorful flowers and small benches perfect to relax and read a book.

I walked through the extremely busy Anne Loftus Playground again. It was some afternoon trying to avoid all the kids running all over the playground, splashing in the fountain area and chasing one another up the jungle gym while parents chatted amongst themselves or read books. This well-laid out playground is very popular with the locals at all times of the day because as I passed it one night late in the evening, the kids were still running around the park. Kids of all ages, shapes and sizes play together and they show real neighborhood unity by watching out for one another.

The Anne Loftus playground was named after the District Manager and Community Board Leader for District 12, who tirelessly fought for improvement in the parks and the neighborhood. The park was name after her in 1990 when it opened. It has currently received a face lift and is being enjoyed by children and families from all over the neighborhood.

Ann Loftus Park

Anne Loftus Playground at Broadway and Dyckman Street

I was able to tour the Cloisters and walk around the upper reaches of the park before nightfall. The Cloisters (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com) is a small medieval museum located in the Fort Tyron Park on Park Drive and is run by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you like this type of art, it is one of the best of its kind. Do not miss the courtyard area to sit and relax amongst the flowers and the patio area to overlook the park.

Cloisters II

‘The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries’ at the Cloisters Museum

One of my favorite exhibits is the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries. These world renown tapestries show the pursuit and capture of the  mythical unicorn. The artwork and detail is breathtaking considering the age of these works. You can spend as little or a lot of time here but it is a small museum.

The Cloisters

The Cloisters at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive in Fort Tyron Park

I ended my day back in Inwood Hill Park and stopped at the Indian Road Café at 600 218th Street #3 (See review on TripAdvisor) a farm to table concept restaurant for dinner and a history lesson. First off, this restaurant is amazing. It is small and cozy and I was lucky to snag a table by the screen on ‘History Night’.

Indian Road Cafe

Indian Road Cafe’s food is excellent

The speaker from the Museum of Natural History, who had just given us a talk on Inwood Hill Park, was there talking about the history of the neighborhood and you would be floored by the number of adults hanging on every word. The gentleman discussed the history of the area with details on the amusement parks that were once here, the trolley and bridge systems and the progression of development in Inwood. The food was fantastic that evening.

I had the Cuban Panino sandwich with an ice tea that I really enjoyed. The restaurant is a ‘farm to table’ concept and you can see it in the taste and freshness of the entrée. The pork was perfectly cooked and sandwich combination worked. The salad was the right amount with a light dressing.

For dessert, I had a Blueberry Cobbler that was more of a dump cake with fresh blueberries baked inside. The whole meal was wonderful and the service was friendly and not rushed. I sat back, ate my dinner and enjoyed my lesson on the history of Inwood. Check out the restaurants website for other special events and I have read many reviews on their wonderful weekend brunch.

It was a nice way to end my evening touring the parks.

Places to Visit:

Inwood Hill Park

Payson And Seaman Avenues

New York, NY 10034

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/inwoodhillpark

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d3598044-Reviews-Inwood_Hill_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Fort Tyron Park

Riverside Drive to Broadway

New York, NY  10040

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-tryon-park

Open:  Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-1:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d2305249-Reviews-Fort_Tryon_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4350

The Cloisters-The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fort Tryon Park)

99 Margaret Corbin Drive

New York, NY 10004

(212) 923-3700

Open: Sunday-Saturday-10:00am-4:45pm

http://www.metmuseum.org

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d106609-Reviews-The_Met_Cloisters-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/680

Anne Loftus Playground (Fort Tyron Park)

4746 Broadway

New York, NY 10040

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-tryon-park/highlights/11234

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

William Tighe Triangle

Seaman Avenue, Dyckman Street and Broadway

New York, NY  10040

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/lt-wm-tighe-triangle/history

Open: Check Website

Muscota Marsh (Columbia University)

218 Indian Hill Road

New York, NY  10034

(212) 639-7695

https://www.nycgovparks.org/highlights/muscota-marsh

https://facilities.columbia.edu/baker-athletic-complex

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d21055137-Reviews-Mucota_Marsh-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1214

Places to eat:

Indian Road Cafe

600 218th Street #3

New York, NY  10034

(212) 942-7417

http://www.indianroadcafe.com

About

Open: Sunday: 8:00am-10:00pm/Monday-Friday: 7:00am-10:30am/Saturday: 7:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1894637-Reviews-Indian_Road_Cafe_Market-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905