|Washington Heights might be considered under the radar, but it’s a fantastic section of Manhattan.|
After residing in New York City for more than eight years, I bet I’ve covered about five or ten percent of places and attractions in the five boroughs. You’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing with my free time since I moved in 2007!? Well, lots, but I still have plenty to cross off my list, so there’s no time like the present to get started. Recently, Mike and I headed north from the Upper West Side and landed in Washington Heights. Never been? Travel along with me through this multi-cultural Manhattan neighborhood.
Washington Heights is mostly Dominican and Ecuadorian, but there’s also a burgeoning Jewish population. Latin culture remains evident in the heart of ‘The Heights’ and it’s refreshing to see that the neighborhood has maintained its character and flavor over the years, despite change. Less dense than many other sections of town. Washington Heights has seen a reduction in crime over the past decade; it’s been rated the fourth safest area in Manhattan.
Easily reached on the 1 or A train, the nabe begins at West 155th and stretches to Inwood or Dyckman Street. We rode the 1 subway to 168th and walked from there. We meandered north on Broadway, where mostly shops and restaurants dot the streetscape, much like Broadway in other parts of town. Technically, Hudson Heights –– a section of Washington Heights –– begins at 173rd Street on the south end to Fort Tryon Park on the north end, with Broadway being its eastern border.
The first landmark we stumbled upon in HH was the United Palace at 175th and Broadway. One of NYC’s original wonder theaters, the venue is the fourth largest theater in Manhattan and now houses the United Palace of Cultural Arts, bringing everything from film to music from world-class artists, to comedy and dance performances like the “Hip Hop Nutcracker.”
From there, we kept moving north until we ran into the George Washington Bridge at 178th Street. Access to the ‘Little Red Lighthouse’ is nearby too, but we didn’t make the trek this trip. Also called the Jeffreys Hook Lighthouse, it’s not easily accessed, so we decided to save it for another time. But seeing the GW Bridge up close was a first for me –– other than driving over it.
We continued traveling toward Fort Tryon, a lovely, expansive public park with sweeping views that houses the Cloisters. I’d visited once before and was eager to return. On the way, we stumbled upon some exquisite, steep streets in Washington Heights.
Eventually, we reached 187th and Overlook Terrace, a set of stairs where you could build some noticeable calf muscles! We met a young man at the base who was a proud native of Washington Heights, telling us how he loves where he was born and raised, and it’s the best neighborhood. He let Mike jump his rope, and they joked around and had a little fun together before he gave us instructions how to get to Fort Tryon Park. And before you ask, I did climb these stairs! You can see why this section of NYC is called ‘The Heights.’
Whew! Once we reached the top, we began making our way to the park but savored every step of our walk on this glorious day. As you can see, the neighborhood is obviously picturesque. Even in the photos, it appears quiet, because it is. I think I’m smitten with Washington Heights.
Finally, we arrived at the park! We discovered a few cutie pies posing for pictures and attracting loads of attention from passersby.
We strolled through Fort Tryon until we reached the end at Inwood. Here are some scenes from our walk in the park.
Along our way, we encountered a “Parkour” crew, and it was the first time that I watched the sport. Parkour is a type of military training discipline that involves 20 percent physical energy and 80 percent mental.
You can see more Parkour in this video. I find it fascinating.
The views from Fort Tryon are pretty spectacular. Can you believe these views are in Manhattan?
Our final destination was the outdoor island-like cafe, La Marina in Inwood. After winding downhill for about 20 minutes, we made it to Dyckman and wandered to the lounge for a cocktail. The views here were impressive too. La Marina has a lively atmosphere and makes a great stopover after trekking through Washington Heights.
After our bit of R&R, we ambled to the subway station and headed home to the Upper West, which took only about 25 minutes.
Even after living in New York for eight years, I’ve barely begun to explore certain areas of this huge island. I might’ve passed through an enclave or dined in a cafe, but there’s so much more than meets the eye in every single neighborhood of our great city.
No matter how long I live here, I’ll never run out of attractions to see or new and interesting places to visit. After all, sometimes it’s fun to act like a tourist at home.