Walk the Length of Manhattan: Feb 07 & 09

Updated: Mar 24, 2019

From 225th Street to the Battery via Broadway, a literal cross section of NYC. Start at 225th Street so you can walk downhill.


1. Marble Hill - 225th Subway Station: If you look at a map you might think you were starting your adventure in The Bronx, instead of Manhattan. You would be . . . wrong. Actually Manhattan, the borough that is, starts in Marble Hill (the location of the 225th Street Subway Station). You see, Marble Hill was connected to Manhattan until the Harlem Ship Canal was completed in 1895 (which physically separated it from the rest of Manhattan). You can read about it in the receptacle of all knowledge, Wikipedia.

-take the 1 Broadway–Seventh Avenue Local to the Marble Hill - 225th Subway Station (or in the vernacular "take the 1 train").

-if you're a stickler for accuracy, after exiting the subway walk five blocks north to 230th Street which is the boundary between Manhattan and The Bronx. Otherwise just start walking south.

2. Broadway Bridge is a vertical lift bridge that carries Broadway and the subway you rode in on across the aforementioned Harlem Ship Canal. Take a look around when your halfway across the bridge.

3. Church of the Good Shepard: take a moment to look at the steel cross made from beams from the World Trade Center.

4. Dyckman Farmhouse Museum: The oldest remaining farmhouse in Manhattan. Built c. 1785.

5. Kuro Kirin for coffee & a nosh: It serves a good cup of coffee and more importantly there really is no other coffee shops in he area.

6. The Cloisters/Fort Tryon Park: At Arden Street make a slight right onto trails leading up to The Cloisters (use Google maps). When you reach the top of the hill inspect the exterior of the building. No need to enter as you have a long day ahead of you (unless you're a fan of European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts). Work your way south to Fort Tryon Park and rejoin Broadway @ W. 187th Street.

-the climactic motorcycle chase for the Clint Eastwood movie Coogan's Bluff was filmed here. It starts at the entrance to The Cloisters and proceeds south through Fort Tryon Park. The television series McCloud was loosely adapted from this movie.

7. Mitchell Square Park (@ 167th Street): Named for the former NYC mayor who joined the Army after failing to be reelected (they don't make 'em like that anymore) and was killed in a training accident in 1918 (he actually fell out of a plane). The park is quite idyllic, as instead of a statue it features an outcropping of Manhattan schist. A plaque dedicated to Hizzoner is located on the 166th Street side.

-at the northern end of the park (167th Street) is the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial erected on Memorial Day, May 1922. It features three bronze figures, a wounded Sailor is supported by a Marine, while an Army Private bends to talk to the wounded man. The looks on all three are quite haunting, a mixture of fatigue and confusion. It reminds me of when I was in the Navy and participated in training to put out shipboard fires. We would review the plan to fight the controlled training fire, but when we had to actually fight it, five minutes later we all so unbelievably tired and confused (and the fire was still not out).

* the sculptor is Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who also sculpted the Woman's Titanic Memorial in Washington, DC, founded the Whitney Museum of Art and was aunt & later guardian of Gloria Vanderbilt. She was born a Vanderbilt (the great-granddaughter of the Commodore), and married into the Whitney family (oil, tobacco and banking) - hey, what about sharing the wealth?!

8. Columbia University: at 116th Street hang a louie and walk through the university grounds.

-Low Memorial Library: Built in 1895 to be the library (it's now the admin offices). Designed by Charles Follen McKim in the Neoclassical style. If you have the time take a look inside. The site of 1968 student sit-ins.

-Butler Library: Built in 1931-34 and was designed by James Gamble Rogers in the Neoclassical style. If you have the time, take a look inside at the large mural.

-rejoin Broadway at 114th Street.

9. Tom's Restaurant: On the southeast corner of 112th Street look back at the restaurant. Does it look familiar? Hungry? This could be a could place for The Big Salad or Chicken Salad on rye, un-toasted, with a side of potato salad and a cup of tea.

-Look east down 112th at The Cathedral of Saint John the Devine. Built in the Gothic Revival stye (though still unfinished). Possibly the largest Anglican Cathedral in the world. Keep moving though, you're not even halfway to The Battery.

10. Nicholas Roerich Museum (319 W 107th St): I never had heard of this guy, but his paintings are stunning (the blues are so vivid). They say his best stuff is in Moscow, but I dunno. Free admission, so stop in and if Comrade Roerich grabs you, then stay awhile.

11. Straus Park @ 106th Street, consists of a bronze 1913 statue by American artist Augustus Lukeman of a nymph gazing over a calm expanse of water in memory of Ida and Isidor Straus, husband and wife, he a United States congressman and co-owner of Macy's, who died together on RMS Titanic. On the memorial is carved a passage from Second Samuel 1:23, "Lovely and pleasant were they in their lives and in their death they were not parted." The passage refers to Ida's choice to stay with her beloved husband, Isidor, rather than get safely into a lifeboat (she must have loved him very much).

-Augustus Lukeman's seminal work was to complete the execution of the enormously scaled Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial.

12. The Ansonia: At 74th Street get onto the east side of Broadway so you can get the best possible vantage of his former residential hotel, now condominium.

-Originally built in 1899 in the Beaux Arts style, to be semi self sufficient, it had a farm on the roof with chickens, ducks and goats (residents received free eggs daily). There was a cattle elevator. Believe it or not the Department of Health shut down this farm in the sky in 1907.

-Former residents included Babe Ruth, Theador Dreiser, Abdu'l-Baha (son of the founder of the Baha'i faith), Arturo Toscanini, Igor Stravinsky, Enrico Caruso and Natalie Portman.

-From 1977-1980 the basement was home to Plato's Retreat an open door swinger sex club and before that the Continental Baths (where Bette Midler sang in the summer of 1970).

13. Verdi Square (72nd Street): A rather elegant marble statue of the eponymous composer sits on the eastern side of this square. Guiseppe is surrounded by figures from his most famous operas: Falstaff on the west side of the statue, Leonora of La forza del destino on the south side, Aida on the north side and Otello on the east side (obviously). In the '60 & '70 was nicknamed Needle Park (sometimes gentrification works out just fine).

-Apple Bank for Savings: enter and take a moment to see how banks were built in 1925. Designed in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo.

14. The Dakota: hang a left on 72nd Street and proceed two blocks to Central Park West. John Lennon was murdered in the main entrance archway in 1908.

-Strawberry Fields is located in Central Park directly across the street from The Dakota.

-then continue south on Central Park West

15. Columbus Circle: The circle is the point from which official highway distances from New York City are measured, as well as the center of the 25 miles (40 km) restricted-travel area for United Nations C-2 visa holders.

-USS Maine National Monument: The bronze for the chariot atop the pylon reportedly came from metal recovered from the guns of the USS Maine.

16. Times Square (42nd Street): As you pass through take a moment, look around and note the dramatic changes since 1975 when it was a crossroads of strip clubs, prostitutes and drugs. There are some things worse than saccharine.

-Do NOT eat anything while you are in Times Square. Manhattan is filled with some of the best restaurants in the world, so why eat at an Olive Garden (when you can eat at one back home)? If you think this is harsh, listen to what Tony Bourdain has to say (at minute 9:43).

*Hungry? Hold out until Joe's Pizza (Broadway & 40th) - some say the best in NYC.

-TKTS Discount Booth located in the center of Times Square is a great place to pick up same day theater tickets at 50% off. If you want to a Broadway show while you're in town, this is a less expensive (though not necessarily cheap way to do it). Browse real time listings.

17. Union Square Park: On the south side of the park is an art installation titled the “Metronome”, consisting of “The Passage” (a series of numbers that form a digital clock), “The Vortex” (the brick wall with the ripple pattern to the right), “The Infinity” (the hole from which all the white smoke comes out of), “The Source” (the gold fragments on the ripple wall), “The Relic” (a hand that extends out of gold), and “The Matter” (the piece of rock on the ripple wall).

*So how exactly does the clock work? “The Passage” is a 15-digit clock that counts the time from midnight. When read left to right, the seven numbers to the left count the hours and minutes that have passed since midnight. When read right to left, the seven numbers to the right counts the hours and minutes remaining until midnight. The number in the middle is a hundredth of a second and is just a blur to the naked eye. Now that you know how it works do you really care?

18: Charging Bull (Whitehall Street): Originally installed illegally two blocks north in front of the NYSE, moved to this location "temporarily" in 1989. Many admirers seem to feel that touching the bulls testicles brings good luck, I guess if your desperate it could be worth a rub. There are identical bulls located in Shanghai and Amsterdam, but for some reason those testicles do not engender the same same felicity.

19. The Battery: Looks like we made it! I leave it to you to root around this park yourself - some great views and numerous monuments/sculptures. As a former Mariner myself, I recommend The American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial. It is quite haunting (and that is was based on a real event, the sinking of the SS MUSKOGEE makes even more so).

Misc:

-Full disclosure. I didn't complete this trek in one day. The dogs were barkin' so I pealed off at 72nd Street (where we were staying in a friend's Mother's apartment) and completed it a few days later.

-If you do everything listed above, it will take you at least 8-10 hours, so pick and choose wisely.

-Required listening:

*Across 110th Street

*Take the A Train

-Required Reading:

*Strolling Up Broadway, The West Side's Spine By RICHARD F. SHEPARD APRIL 8, 1988, NY Times


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