Exploring Northern Broadway
March 24, 2014

 

Exploring Northern Broadway
 
Manhattanville
 
As our 11-year-old son Riley gets older, he frequently mentions his ambition of walking from the top to the bottom of Manhattan. We like the idea as well, but we’ve also been trying to research the best way of doing so. 
 
The obvious choice seems Broadway. This twisty route—which the Dutch transformed to a wide land from the Manhattans’ Wickquasgeck Trail, long before the English renamed it—swings you from west in the north to center at Battery Park. We very well may choose this road, but first we wanted to review its upper reaches. What we learned: Broadway has many interesting diversions, which may mean a longer north–south walk than we anticipate.
 
Following Broadway north from Morningside Heights, the walk heads downhill beneath a rapidly disappearing species—an elevated subway track. The charming roofs covering the stations sit high above 125th Street, where the landscape grows more elevated. Columbia University is currently redeveloping property on the west side of the street to expand its campus. This means sidewalks have been eliminated, so the footpath is temporarily relocated beneath scaffolding and protected from the cars by a concrete barrier. 
 
You reach the horizon around 135th Street. If you have time to spare, turn left here to walk past a glorious canyon of brick and fire escapes before you reach the Hudson River. Then, wander a bit north and head west to Riverbank State Park—built upon a water treatment facility that provides dance, football, soccer, basketball, tap, ballet and swim lessons to those of us in the neighborhood. You can make similarly fascinating diversions all along Broadway—which refers back to the problem of mapping our north–south walk.
 
Inwood
 
Once in Inwood, you could hang out in Bennet Park. We were drawn that direction because of our affection for Moscow on the Hudson, a wonderful Russian shop just up a steep walk from the Little Red Light House along the Hudson River. Walking back east towards Broadway we noticed a flagpole and some interesting architecture further north, so we decided to go look at it.
 
Who knew (other than the people who live in the neighborhood) that there was a park up here erected around the site where the revolutionaries fighting for independence made a last stand upon Manhattan? How perfect that posted Bennet Park rules are translated into Russian and Spanish, a testimony to the variety of people who now make their life here.
 
Back to Broadway
 
Since we were committed to our Broadway route we then sought a way back. We didn’t want to just retrace our steps, so we wandered further north to a set of steps just north of 183rd Street which land right back down on Broadway a few blocks east. Here the land levels out again and it’s pretty much smooth sailing to the top of Manhattan. The route passes the Dyckman House—whose survival attests to the New York City anthem that if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. It is gorgeous relic of Manhattan’s past.
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