Tag Archives: Washington Heights

Day Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six: November 15 & 16, 2015 Crossing Washington Heights from 181st to 155th Streets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water Tower High Bridge Park

Water Tower in High Bridge Park

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

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

High Bridge Park II

High Point Bridge and Tower

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

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

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

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

halloween in Washington Heights

Halloween in Washington Heights

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

Morris-Jumel Historic District

Morris-Jumel Historic District

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

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

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

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

Estrella Bakery

5 Estrella Bakery

Places to visit:

Water Tower at High Bridge Park at 173rd Street

Washington Heights, NYC

Places to Eat:

Slice of Amsterdam Pizza (Closed)

5 Estrella Bakery

3861 Broadway

New York, NY 10032

(212) 795-5000

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

El Manantial Bakery

1220 St. Nichols Avenue

New York, NY  10032

(212) 795-0045

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Day Twenty One: October 30, 2015 Walking the Avenues in Washington Heights

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

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

McNally Plaza Park.jpg

McNally Plaza Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Bridge Park III

High Bridge Park

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

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

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

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

Places to Visit:

High Bridge Park

Washington Heights, NYC

Places to Eat:

Rincocito Ice Cream

1650 Saint Nichols Avenue

New York, NY  10033

Day Nineteen: Walking the West Side of Broadway Washington Heights 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.

190th Subway

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, 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. 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.

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, once home to Aaron Burr’s second wife, Eliza Jumel.

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

Morris-Jumel Mansion

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!

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. 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.

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.

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

Washington Heights, NYC

 

Sylvan Terrace Houses

Washington Heights, NYC

 

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

 

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

Day Seventeen: Walking the Harlem Border The West Side of Broadway 181st to 153rd Streets September 28th, 2015

I took a walk on Riverside Drive today, completing the west side of Broadway from 181st Street to 153rd Streets, on a beautiful sunny day. Being a little humid did not help but as the day wore on it got cooler and nicer to walk. Riverside Drive breaks into breaks into two sections around 161st Street with one section ending at Broadway and another part aligning the park. I decided to take the long route first and walk down to about 143rd Street, enjoying the views of the park and stopping  to look at the views of the palisades in New Jersey There are lots of scenic spots to view from.

I stopped for lunch at George’s Pizza at 726 West 181st Street, a well known pizzeria that has been around since 1960. They have a great lunch special of two giant slices and a can of soda for $5.00 and the pizza here is really good. The pizza maker makes a nice sauce and it has a rich flavor to it. The pizza was perfectly cooked and with the size of the slices, I did not need any dinner. It is a small hole in the wall place that is popular with the locals and was very busy that afternoon. You really need to check it out when in the neighborhood. The pizza cook is a really nice guy to boot.

I doubled back up Broadway to about 156th Street and started the walk up Riverside Drive from here. What’s nice about this section is the stone wall along the pocket park that lines this section of the drive. They make a nice bench for conversing with people as many residents seem to take advantage of during the day. There were lots of people socializing on this sunny afternoon.  What’s nice about the little park between the streets is the rock formations similar to the one you will see around 190th Street harking back to a time that this area was dominated by rocky hills not paved smooth by roads and housing developments. There is a natural beauty to this park.

The brownstones that line this area are surrounding by potted plants and window boxes, showing a colorful display of seasonable flowers and plants. They accent the buildings very well. I was able also to finish all the side streets between Riverside and Broadway noticing that a lot of these buildings are now under renovation. More and more of these buildings are going from rentals to condos and you can see the money that is going into upscaling them. You can see it from the lobbies that you can view from the street to the new windows and sandblasting that is going on in the front of many of these buildings. This part of the neighborhood is going through a major transition.

I doubled back down Broadway to look over the selection of restaurants that were closed the last time I walked this part of the street and took a long walk on 155th Street down to the bridge. It really is a funny thing about 155th Street, how much it changes from one side of Manhattan to another. For some reason, you really can feel the difference from one side of the street to the other. By Riverside Drive, it is all brownstones and pre-war housing that is being renovated. By the other side by the bridge, it is a large public housing complex.

On a break it was back to the lady who sells the shaved ice for a mango ice cup. I really look forward to those two scoops of mango ice. It must be all the years that I lived in the islands myself. I still am trying to find the elusive Guamanian treat of a combination of soft serve, shaved ice and lining it with fruit syrups. Now that was heaven on a hot day.

The last part of the day was spent walking up the east side of Broadway. Not knowing when I started on this side of the street, I walked from 155th Street to 207th Street. It didn’t take as long as I thought but my feet reminded me it was a distance. It was interesting to see all the restaurants I tried, all the stores I entered and all the bakeries I had to stop in, all delicious and very reasonable. There are many great business owners up here. I made it to 207th Street when it got dark.

The outdoor cafes of 207th Street were in full swing that evening with such a warm night and everyone was out eating dinner and just enjoying the first warms days of the Fall. New York really comes alive at night, especially in this area where people are still in Fort Tryon Park jogging, walking or just out playing dominoes. You see that side of people that  enjoy living in this neighborhood.

Places to Eat:

Georges Pizza

726 West 181 Street

New York, NY 10033

http://georgespizzanewyork.net/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d478960-Reviews-George_s_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html

http://www.georgespizzadinner.com/

Visit the shopping area of 207th Street

Day Fifteen: First Day of Fall Washington Heights to Harlem September 23, 2015

Okay, I did not make my goal of walking the whole city by the end of the Summer but when work, book edits, fire and ambulance calls and life in general get in the way, there is not much you can do but keep on walking. I started my walk today at the 165th Street subway station. At least I am moving down the subway lines.

Exiting the subway, I took the long walk down Broadway towards 155th Street to 153rd Street the traditional border of Washington Heights and Harlem. For all the reputation that these neighborhoods have to the rest of the city, they are really nice especially west of Broadway by the Hudson River. I concentrated on the west side of Broadway today, making 153rd Street my border until I start the eastern part of Broadway. At 84 degrees, the Summer has not let go yet and it was a beautiful sunny day to venture into the city.

I started down the hill on 153rd Street at the Trinity Church Cemetery, which is advertised at the ‘only active mausoleum’ on the island of Manhattan. By the time I got into the city at 3:30pm, the cemetery was closed for the day but people were still walking around the sides of it, jogging, walking, biking and just enjoying the day. By the wall on Broadway, I read a plaque that said this was the line of defense for General Washington against the British during the Revolutionary War. Many people forget how much Manhattan played a role during the war. If General Washington were only to see the neighborhood now, he would be pretty shocked. That is just about the sticker price on an apartment in the area as this area is getting more costly.

Trinity Church Cemetery

Trinity Church Cemetery

As I walked this section of Broadway, I ventured into the Sweet Life Bakery at 3887 Broadway for something to munch on to keep the sugar high. I had one of their fresh Concha pastries that is a type of sugary sweet cake. For a dollar, it quite a bargain for this red topped sugary pastry. Venture inside for many other delicious sweets. Munching on the cake and walking around the other side of the cemetery at 155th Street, at the end of the street there is a series of steps that takes you to a set of stairs that leads to a small patch of Riverside Park with the most breathtaking views of the river and Fort Lee, New Jersey.

It’s nice on a sunny day to take in the view and the way the sun shines off the water and the river rushing by creates a very inviting and relaxing place to take in the views of the park. I sat and watched the joggers, bikers and people just walking and talking pass by enjoying their afternoon. Then it was back up the steps to continue up Riverside Drive.

As I walked down the side streets between Riverside Drive and Broadway, there are many pockets of small sites to see and enjoy. At the end of the stretch of 158th Street, there is a row of townhouses with different designs, all sitting in various stages of renovation, with a few still boarded up. There is not many places in the city where you are going to see much of this. I was pretty surprised that two or three were still in bad shape. I don’t give it that much time before someone passes these homes and snatches them up for a new home. Still they look genuine. Like the people that live there have seen the good times and the bad times of the neighborhood.

At the start of corner of 157th Street and the beginning of Riverside Drive at 811 Riverside Drive, there is the most unique home sitting next to an apartment building with similar architecture but it looks more like a Gothic house that was once someone’s mansion until it was turned into apartments. This now two family house looks almost like a frat house but kept in the utmost care. It is worth the wait to stare at from the street.

The house was built in 1922 for clothing manufacturer, Nathan Berler and was supposed to be part of a bigger development of duplex homes. It was the only one that ended up being built. This unique home sits amongst the buildings known as the Audubon Terrace (Untapped Cities).

811 Riverside Drive

811 Riverside Drive

Another is a pocket park on Riverside Drive West which mergers into Riverside Drive. What I have found is that when these communities ban together, they can create small picturesque parks for all the neighbors to enjoy. Their form of community gardening have created a place for seniors and their caregivers to relax and kids to run around in without fears of cars. It is a nice place to sit on a bench and watch the world go by. The start of Riverside Drive off 158th Street and Edward Morgan Place offers another beautiful patch of hilly park space on two levels of stone wall with a staircase in between.

Many people were sitting on the wall chatting away enjoying the day, not noticing the trees still in full form and several brownstones’ with potted plants and window gardens decorating their fronts. These colorful displays accented the brownstones’ and almost brought the park to the front of their homes. A black cat followed me up the street, my first companion on this walk. After a block, it meowed and walked back down the street.

I walked all the side streets between 158th Street to 164th Street, admiring the pre-war buildings and watching the families outside setting up tables and chairs and talking to their friends and families or just playing dominoes or cards. These folks seriously pay attention to what is going on around them. My walk up and down Riverside Drive will complete this side of Broadway in Washington Heights.

I stopped one day to visit the Hispanic Society Museum & Library at 613 West 155th Street (see my reviews on TripAdvisor & VisitingaMuseum.com) on one of the rare days that it was open. It is a wonderful place to admire Spanish art from different eras. Take time to admire the murals towards the back of the museum and then some of the Medieval art in the middle of the museum.

Hispanic Society of America

Hispanic Society Museum & Library

I ended my day with a soda and some freshly fried chicken Pastelitos at La Terraza at 3881 Broadway. This little restaurant displays their selection of entrees in the window. The Pastelitos they in big demand as they disappeared quickly from the window display and I lucked out with ones that just came out of the fryer. They were the best with spicy shredded chicken squirting out with every bite. That with a Coke is a nice way to end the day.

Places to Visit:

Trinity Church Cemetery

770 Riverside Drive

New York, NY 10032

(212) 368-1800

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

Hispanic Society Museum & Library

613 West 155 Street

New York, NY  10032

(212) 926-2234

http://hispanicsociety.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d110237-Reviews-Hispanic_Society_of_America-New_York_City_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com”

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/160

Places to Eat:

La Terraza

3881 Broadway

New York, NY 10032

(212) 795-0615

Sweet Life Pastry

3887 Broadway

New York, NY  10032

(212) 304-0265

Day Fourteen: Walking in Southern Washington Heights September 16th, 2015

I finally finished the area on the western side of Broadway from 178th Street to 164th Street. It was a long day of walking. I also covered the entire lengths of Haven Avenue and Fort Washington Avenue past Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, which pretty much dominates over this area. There is a pretty distinct line in the neighborhood once you cross over 180th Street and you get to 165th Street, which is the border of the ever-changing Dominican neighborhood and the Hospital neighborhood. Things become much more commercial and a little upscale below 165th Street as it caters to the hospital staff.

Even the housing stock changes. The area around the hospital you can tell caters to the staff and the guests and once over the 168th Street border, it goes back to Dominican neighborhood. Between Yeshiva University and the hospital, this area you can see is going through a rapid flux. The streets are full of such beautiful, classic housing stock and if it were in the lower 90’s on both sides would be snatched up for more than double the price. The stone work along on some of the buildings with pillars and statuary brings almost an European feel to this area. I call the changes the ‘new window’ theory. When ever you see new window frames in an older building, you know the area is changing. The gentrifying cliché of white people walking their dogs or jogging rings so true around here. I see the looks in the faces of the guys playing dominoes in the park and their eyes roll.

I got up today as classes were letting out at PS 173 across from J. Hood Wright Park. The streets were lined with well-dressed students yelling and screaming at one another all over the street. The school is very impressive looking almost like an Ivy League school with its beautiful stonework and pillared entrance. It compliments the park very nicely.

J. Hood Wright Park, the former estate of banker and financier, J. Hood Wright is located between 176th Street to 173rd Street and has gone through an over two million dollar renovation. The park was full of action this afternoon. People were walking their dogs, sunbathing by the rock formations and reading on the backside park with the most spectacular  views of the George Washington Bridge. The park has a dog walk in the back, a baseball and basketball court and walking paths that wind the whole park.

The best was all the street vendors outside the school. You had your choice of soft serve ice cream, shaved flavored ices, freshly fried Pastelitos (meat pies) and fresh fruit. The shaved ice is the best on a humid day. I had a mango-strawberry ice that was so refreshing. You can also get three very sweet peaches for a dollar.

It was nice to just sit in the park and relax, watching kids chase each other around the playground and eating their snacks while dog walkers compared notes. I stopped by Mambi Steak House at 4181 Broadway at 177nd Street, a Dominican restaurant that is very popular in the neighborhood. The fresh Pastelitos are great and there is a nice selection of other take out items as well. On the hot line, there are all sorts of lunch specials such as beef, chicken and codfish stew, pepper steak, eggplant and lasagna. Wonderful smells wafted through the entire restaurant. With two Pastelitos and a coke in hand, I walked the lengths of Haven Avenue and Fort Washington Avenues and the side streets from 164th Street to 178th Street. The streets were lined with the most amazing pre-war apartment buildings and a lot of rebuilding and renovations especially around the hospital.

I concluded my walk at La Dinastia Restaurant at 4181 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and 171st Street, a Dominican-Chinese restaurant. This restaurant is great. The pictures on the window of the place don’t do it justice. I had a boneless chicken crackling with a special fried rice. The chicken cracklings had a breading that was a cross between a tempura and fried chicken with spices and the special fried rice was full an array of ingredients such as shrimp, ham, chicken, sausage and vegetables. The meal was huge. They gave me about eight large pieces of chicken with almost a pint of fried rice. It was a meal you cannot finish  at one sitting and it made almost three meals. The restaurant is well worth the trip with the combination of flavors and fusion of Spanish and Chinese cuisine. It will be worth a second trip.

The walk concluded the area from 164th Street to 178th Street west of Broadway. The next part will be the area east of Broadway from 193rd on down. I hope for good weather.

Places to visit:

Don’t miss the view of 181st Street toward the George Washington Bridge

J. Hood Wright Park

173rd Street at Haven Avenue and Fort Washington Avenue

 

Places to Eat:

La Dinastia Restaurant

4059 Broadway at 171st Street

New York, NY  10032

(212) 928-6605

http://www.ladinastiany.com

http://www.ladinastiany.com/

Open: Monday-Thursday-11:30am-10:30pm/Friday-Sunday-11:30am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534262-Reviews-La_Dinastia_II-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Mambi Steak House

4181 Broadway

New York, NY  10033

(212) 928-9796

Open: 24 hours a day

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3605814-Reviews-Mambi_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Day Thirteen: Lower Washington Heights September 13th, 2015

I continued my walk in Washington Heights in the middle of the neighborhood west of Broadway when the heavens opened up. Thank God it did not last forever. The sun did come out later that afternoon and did cool down a lot. It was the perfect weather to walk around the neighborhood.

I took the subway back up to 181st Street and walked past the rock formation again that abuts the surrounding buildings. I can’t believe that someone would want to blast this away to build something but it looks like its under construction. This is such a focal point in a neighborhood filled with pre-war apartments.

My first part of the walk took me down the 181st Street shopping area and maybe I missed it the first time but there is a Starbucks on the corner of 181st Street and Fort Washington Avenue. This is the tale tell sign that the neighborhood is changing again. This part of Washington Heights west of Broadway is really beautiful with its rolling hills, pocket parks and tree-lined streets and the most amazing view of the George Washington Bridge from the corner of 181st Street and Pinehurst Avenue.

The street slopes  down and you have a view of Riverside Park in the distance, a tree lined street and the pocket park next to the dead end of Pinehurst Avenue. This is a perfect place to take pictures and climb the stairs to relax on one of the many benches that line the walkway. Toward the top of the stairs, the fence is lined with modern art that is festive and unique. As I said on a previous day, this part of the neighborhood reminds me of the marina area in San Francisco.

When you climb the stairs at Pinehurst Avenue, you are greeted by the Hudson View Apartments, a mixture of stone and Tutor apartments landscaped to match the adjoining parks. This attractive apartment complex lines the streets of the west side on Pinehurst Avenue, across the street from James Gordon Bennett Park, a staple that attracts families from all over the neighborhood. The courtyards of the complex are colorfully planted and match the stonework of the buildings. The whole affect with the park across street is quite striking.

James Gordon was a newspaper publisher who launched the New York Herald in 1835. He donated this land which was part of his property. The land sat on the site of the original Fort Washington that had been part of the Revolutionary War battles. The park opened in 1929 and the unique aspect of the park is that is that the west side of the park site an outcropping of the ‘Manhattan Schist’, the layer of bedrock in which is the core of the island and how all the skyscraper’s are built on the island. This part of the schist is the highest point of Manhattan (Wiki).

I spent time in Bennett Park watching kids climb rocks, frolic around the playground and play with their parents, who were enjoying the park just as much as the kids. It gives me faith that raising children in New York City has changed over the last twenty years. I am seeing more and more young parents in the city staying put and bringing life back to New York establishing their roots here and not in the suburbs.

Bennett Park offers a lot. There is lots of equipment in the playground to keep any child occupied. There is a area for soccer, kite flying, rock climbing and even a cannon to climb on. Kids were flying planes, throwing balls with their parents or chasing one another without a cellphone in sight. That gives me faith in the next generation.

Leaving Bennett Park and walking up the length of Pinehurst Avenue, I stopped at the little triangle park to rest and take a phone call. The Paterno Trivium, at the corner of Cabrini Boulevard, Pinehurst Avenue and West 187th Street is another small pocket park run by the NYC Park system. It was a perfect place to converse with local seniors on the current status of New York City, happenings in the neighborhood and recommendations of restaurants on the small restaurant row on 187th Street. There is a little bit of everything in this area.

The park was named after Charles V. Paterno, a developer who was responsible for developing most of the Fort Washington section of Manhattan. He developed the Hudson View Garden Apartment complex, the Gothic apartment buildings near Fort Tryon Park in 1923-24. The park opened in 2000 and has become a Greenstreet site (NYCParks.org).

After walking both sides of Fort Washington Street and finished the upper western part of Washington Heights, I walked down 181st Street towards Broadway and made my way down Broadway to 165th Street following the western perimeter of the neighborhood and walked around the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital complex with dominates the 165th Street from Broadway to the Hudson River. All the housing surrounding the complex has been updated obviously for the staff of the hospital and in the later evening staff from the hospital was walking all over the neighborhood, conversing, walking their dogs and eating out.

There is a distinct change in the neighborhood once you cross 169th Street on Broadway. It goes from a Dominican neighborhood to a more college oriented one, lined with chain stores, upscale restaurants and gourmet shops and businesses catering more to the college and hospital staff then to the neighbors slightly to the north. Honestly though, I see plenty of young Hispanic professionals in the restaurants.

I had enough time to walk all the side streets between Broadway and Haven Avenue and the first three blocks up, the housing looks strictly for the hospital staff changing again around 172nd Street. I ended my walk for the evening walking the edges of J. Hood  Wright Park, watching everyone walk their dogs through the park and the last playground stragglers leaving the park for the evening.

J. Hood Wright was a wealthy banker and financier who owned a mansion on the site and donated heavily to the local Washington Heights branch of the library (NYCParks.org).

I stopped at La Nueva Empanadas Monumental at 3772 Broadway for some empanadas to munch on way back to the subway station. I had the chicken and cheese and the chicken. Not bad but a little doughy and be prepared to speak your broken Spanish if you unless you speak the language. Most everyone is a Spanish speaker in the restaurant and some of the patrons seemed a little shocked that I walked in. To me, its a nice place for a quick, reasonably priced snack.

I will be finishing the rest of this side of Broadway in the coming days.

Places to Visit:

James Gordon Bennett Park

At Pinehurst and Fort Washington Avenues between 183rd and 185th Streets

J. Hood Wright Park

At 173rd Avenue between Haven Avenue and Fort Washington Avenue

Paterno Trivium

At the corners of Cabrini Boulevard, Pinehurst Avenue and West 187th Street

New York, NY  10040

 

Places to eat:

La Neuva Empanadas Monumental

3772 Broadway

New York, NY  10032

(646) 559-2502

Open: Monday-Thursday-9:00am-11:00pm/Friday, Saturday and Sunday-9:00am-12:00am

Day Twelve: Washington Heights 177th Street & West of Broadway September 8th, 2015

I finished the remainder of the my walk of the lower part of Fort Tyron Park today. What a scorcher of a day at 95F and the humidity was not great either. The initial part of this walk started at the middle of the park at the 190 Street station. Take the elevator from the subway station to the top floor and exit through the park. You will be in front of the Margaret Corbin Circle, a beautifully landscaped cul-de -sac at the lower end of the park, where the buses drop everyone off. In season, the flowers are a colorful bouquet of different varieties with the green of the trees in the background.

I walked around the Stan Michels Promenade past the Heather Gardens. It is such a great place to stroll and look at the various plantings. I was floored when I saw crocuses blooming this time of year when they are a Spring flower. The Heather Gardens to the side of the promenade was in full bloom and I took the time out to see what was planted. All sorts of birds, butterflies and bees make this their home so be on the look out for things flying around.

I stopped for lunch at the New Leaf Café at 1 Margaret Corbin Drive. This pretty little restaurant is as you enter the park and a short walk from the subway terminal. I have to admit that the restaurant is just beautiful with a great location and the view from the patio is pretty spectacular but the food doesn’t match it. The cheeseburger I ordered nicely cooked with no flavor, the fries were standard and the dessert menu was pretty boring. It can be pricey on the lunch menu so stick to the sandwiches.

The service is friendly and attentive. The waiter I had, Sarah, was explaining to me how she was training in some new people and was a little distracted. I thought she was perfectly fine. I told her I loved the view and the restaurant but the meal did not match the atmosphere. She explained that they are still working on the dessert menu and new things are being added. It is a place to visit for the view alone. (Note to readers: You can see all my restaurant and attraction reviews on TripAdvisor)

I relaxed after lunch on the Linden Terrace, a stone terrace that has views of the park and in the distance, the Hudson River. It is a great place to relax in the shade on a hot day and read a book or the paper. I plotted my game plan of the neighborhood and took the elevator back down to Broadway and walked from 190th Street to 177th Street. It was a nice walk on a hot day.

Fort Tyron Park has an interesting history. The park is named after Sir William Tyron, the last British Governor of the Providence of New York. It was donated to the City by John D. Rockefeller Jr in 1935 after buying the old C. K. G. estate and employing the firm of the Olmstead Brothers, who created Central Park, to redesign it into a park. The Battle of Fort Washington was fought here during the Revolutionary War and the first women to fight in Battle here, Margaret Corbin (who the road is named after) was wounded here. The park had fallen in hard times in the 70’s and 80’s and has now received a full restoration (Wiki).

Fort Tryon Park I

Walking under the George Washington Bridge is something new for me. You never realize how busy that bridge is until you walk under it and around it. I was surprised by all the construction around the bridge. It seems that they are building retail space under the bridge. Who knew you could develop upscale shopping under the George Washington Bridge.

As I walked around 177th Street on the west side of Broadway the one thing I noticed was the classic housing stock around Cabrini and Haven Avenues. It is really beautiful with elegant entrances and pillared fronts. The buildings do need some work but this area has interesting housing stock.

I took an interesting detour around the playground and under the bridge off Haven Avenue. When you walk up the crumbling steps to the walk way around the entrance and exit to the George Washington Bridge, it takes you around a spiral path around the streets through mountains of household garbage that the homeless must discard, places where these people must sleep or gang members meet and the worst part is when you finish following the path, you must turn around and go back the way you came because the path is blocked off at the other end by a wooden door as the stairs on the other side is being repaired. This little side trip is not for the faint hearted as you do not have much room to walk around and to any passerby by car, they would have their own thoughts of why you are up there.

The street art around the playground at 177th Street is very interesting and if you decide to take the walk around the bridge area, check out the painting along the cement rail of the three faces. It really is a unique piece of art work. Walking up the hill on 181st Street, there are some great shops and restaurants and the view walking up the hill is quite a site. It looks like a street in San Francisco.

My path took me up Carbrini Avenue past the Castle Village Apartment complex, a series of buildings with a spectacular view of the Hudson River and nicely landscaped yards around the buildings. The details along the buildings really make the complex seem like a series of medieval buildings and from what I could see from the street level a very nice place to live. The path up the road lead me right back to Fort Tyron Park, fitting from what I saw on the way up the road.

castle hill apartments

Castle Hill Apartments and park

On my way back down the avenue, I criss-crossed the side streets at 190th, 187th, 181st, 180th and 179th, looking over the various restaurants and stores in the area. All around me I can see signs that the neighborhood is in the process of changing as the smaller low scale establishments are being replaced with more updated restaurants, shops and coffee bars. Some of the true neighborhood stores you can tell are keeping up by changing their signs and frontage displays to cater to the new comers. There is a real change going on in this part of the area and local merchants are starting to cash in on their new clientele while keeping the old ones happy. I stopped by a vendor selling shaved rainbow ice for $1.00. These little ice vendors are a pleasure on a hot day.

I double backed on Broadway and walked up Overlook Terrace and believe me, there is a reason why they call it that. You really have to walk up a hill and by time you reach the top by the hospital, you really have a nice view of the neighborhood. I took this to 190th Street right back up to Fort Tyron Park. You’ll find that all the roads on this side of Broadway lead back to the park. I walked the side streets back down and made the turn making Bennett Avenue my final part of the day.

Bennett Avenue  like the other streets in this part of Washington Heights is dominated by natural rock formations that line pockets of the streets. Bennett Avenue is no exception as there are beautiful formations of rocks and trees that line the sides of the road on the western part of the street. Half way up make sure to stop at the Bennett Rest, a pocket park near the rock formations  to take a rest. It was a long day of the walking and this little park is right near a Gothic looking Lutheran Church that was having a Farmers Market. A nice distraction from looking at all the apartment buildings.

This part of upper Bennett Avenue must cater to the families working and attending Yeshiva University on the other side of Broadway as many Jewish families were walking around the neighborhood after work and relaxing in the parks in the neighborhood. The street is filled with classic looking pre-war apartments, some with doorman and chandelier foyers.

I complete my walk today walking back down Bennett Avenue. Note the beautiful rock formation that faces you walk down 192nd Street from Broadway. It is quite the site and reminds you that not all of Manhattan was blasted away to build things. I criss-crossed all the side street from the edge of Bennett to the beginning of 181st Street, noting all the businesses that faced Broadway and the restaurants that started to fill up for the evening. Note to walkers, there are some interesting restaurants around the 187th Street between Cabrini and Fort Washington Avenues to check out as well as some nice stores.

By nightfall, I was walking up the west side of Broadway from 179th Street to the Dyckman Street A Train entrance passing Fort Tyron Park for one last time that day. People still walk in this park at night and I saw joggers exiting. It is obviously an active park at all hours of the day. Ann Loftus Playground was still going strong even in the dark with little kids running around at 8:30pm.

Note: Avoid the McDonalds on Broadway and 180th Street. The service is terrible and they mix up your order.

For all the things people say about Washington Heights, you have to see it to believe it. It really is a nice neighborhood.

Places to Visit:

Fort Tryon Park

On Dyckman Street & Broadway

Heather Gardens & Linden Terrace & Ann Loftus Playground

Fort Tryon Park

Places to Eat:

New Leaf Cafe (In Fort Tryon Park

One Margret Corbin Drive

New York, NY  10040

(212) 568-5323

http://www.newleafcafe.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d478282-Reviews-New_Leaf_Restaurant_Bar-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Avoid the McDonald’s in the neighborhood. The food and service are horrible.