5.04.2014

Scaling the Heights: A Walk from the Base of Fort Tryon Park to W. 187th Street

A walk along the high grounds of Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters south to Washington Heights equals any stroll in more publicized parts of New York City.  

View of the Hudson River, looking north from Fort Tryon Park near The Cloisters


Not that this area remains much of a secret these days. The motivation for my most recent stroll was prompted by a story published in The New York Times on March 28, 2014 titled "Downtown Food Goes North." The story suggests that Upper Manhattan, until recently, was a culinary wasteland, with nothing contemporary (i.e. local, artisan, farm-to-market) to eat. 




Walk in Fort Tryon Park

According to the Times, the Upper Manhattan food scene is changing, sporting "the unmistakable signs of menu relevance."

(Editorial aside: Of course, in a city that loses much of its older culture every day, I worry about so-called relevancy replacing traditional mainstays of the city, culinary or otherwise. But as long as the new doesn't crowd out Upper Manhattan's luncheonette counters, diners, and neighborhood bakeries, the way it has in most neighborhoods downtown, I heartily welcome new kids on the block. The phrase "menu relevance" kinda scared me.)  

View of The Cloisters on a spring afternoon, Fort Tryon Park.


In my ancient flaneur fashion, I couldn't think of a more ideal afternoon than a leisurely stroll in pursuit of this exciting new "menu relevance." In addition, I would be able to enjoy the sights along the way - river landscapes, medieval art at The Cloisters, and gardens of heather in Fort Tryon Park. With steep steps, the walk would also involve muscular exertion, if you go for that sort of thing. 

Spring in the gardens of Fort Tryon Park

The walk (see map) begins near Dyckman Street, proceeds in improvisational fashion up the north face of The Cloisters (I like to dramatize the exercise a little), curves around to the south of the medieval art museum, and then continues through the gardens of Fort Tryon Park to its southern entrance. Enjoy sweeping river views en route to W. 187th. (The walk could take hours if you include a visit to The Cloisters and refreshments at New Leaf Cafe.)

W. 187th Street between Pinehurst Avenue and Fort Washington Avenue, south side of block

Three of the "relevant menus" cited in the NYT story are located on or near the block of W. 187th St. between Pinehurst Avenue and Fort Washington Avenue - Frank's Gourmet Market (807 W. 187th), a market with a good take-out section; the Rusty Mackerel (209 Pinehurst Avenue), a restaurant with a creative and pleasing menu (note: CLOSED); and Cafe Buunni (213 Pinehurst), an Ethiopian-inspired coffee shop. 

Produce at Frank's.


The block has several things going for it, including a classic Kosher bakery in Gideon's at 810 W. 187th (delicious black and white cookies) and the theatrical Deco-era storefront the store shares with adjacent businesses.

Walk west on W. 187th to see views of the river.

View of the George Washington Bridge from the west end of W. 187th St. 


The last bit of fun comes with the walk east and down the West 187th Street Stairs. 

Pedestrian descending a staircase.

Back on earth, it's fairly easy to locate uptown or downtown buses to get you back to where you need to go.    

If you do these steps often enough, you can stay relevant.
Looking back

Photos by Walking Off the Big Apple from April 27, 2014.
  
Postscript

In the early fall of last year, I moved to the northern wilds of Manhattan, for private reasons that veer toward the conventional and the common but the specifics of which I felt needed not be elaborated to a large audience. 

In the Heights


Between my full-time job and my northerly Manhattan home coordinates, I was somewhat limited in the pursuit of my previous extended adventures in the Big Apple. Thus, I put this website in mothballs for many months. The cold winter didn't help much either. Yet, I was especially keen for you to know about Washington Heights and Inwood, the neighborhoods where I take most of my walks. 

Bonus picture:

I said the neighborhood was old. Here's proof.

With the arrival of warmer weather, I will likely update this website, too, as I discover walking adventures in the greater New York area.