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An Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan: From The Cloisters to Audubon Park

With the arrival of cool autumn temperatures, a trek to upper Manhattan is in order, specifically a vigorous hike around Fort Tryon Park followed by a meditative walk in The Cloisters. That will get you going. It's lofty up here, away from the secular masses and their petty bourgeois pursuits and their traffic fumes and discordant notes. The terrain is literally higher, elevation-wise, and the combination of a hike through a heather garden and sounds of Gregorian chants wafting through the museum's gift shop can shift the mortal soul into a higher state of being. Plus the views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge are drop dead gorgeous.

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
The George Washington Bridge as seen through the Heather Garden at Fort Tryon Park
Getting here: Take the A train up to 190th Street and either wait for a bus to pick you up and drop you off at the front of The Cloisters, or walk through Fort Tryon Park and up to the museum. The park's Heather Garden is beautiful this time of year. Walk the Promenade to Linden Terrace for the lofty views, including one of the tower of The Cloisters to the north.

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
View of The Cloisters from Linden Terrace in Fort Tryon Park.
Fort Tryon Park, opened in 1935, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the son of the Central Park landscape architect, on land donated by John D. Rockefeller Jr. The park offers regular walking tours and a fitness program, and rightly so, because its many paths offer several degrees of fitness challenges. Rockefeller bought and donated land across from the river from the Cloisters, along the steep cliffs known as the New Jersey Palisades (and now Palisades State Park), so the views from the Manhattan side would be unobstructed and pastoral.

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
Look, it's a party. On this October day in Fort Tryon Park - a celebration of the park's 75th birthday. 
The park was built during the Great Depression, offering many jobs to unemployed New Yorkers.

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art houses one of the world's great collections of medieval art. The famous Unicorn Tapestries are here. But many visitors come for the serenity of the monastic architecture. 
From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
Many visit the gardens at the Cloisters to learn about medieval uses of plants.
From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
The Cloisters is attractive in all seasons. During the winter holidays, the museum is filled with the sounds of medieval Christmas music.
From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
The gardens at the Cloisters are particularly well-kept.
From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
You can see that it's  high up in this part of town. Notice the visitors walking across the stone walkway in the upper left part of the picture.

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
The George Washington Bridge as seen from Fort Tryon Park.

A fun walk: After visiting the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park, return to the park entrance and walk south along Fort Washington Avenue. At Bennett Park, stop to see the stone marker that notes this spot as the highest natural point in Manhattan.
From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
Hudson Towers, one of several Tudor-inspired apartment buildings of Hudson View Gardens along Pinehurst Avenue. Notice the picture on top as well, with its castle-like tower overlooking the park. Castle Village on Cabrini Blvd. was built in the late 1930s. 

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
Walking south through Washington Heights - a stairway that ressembles those in the steep Montmartre section of Paris.  This leads to 181st Street, a picturesque street with excellent views of the George Washington Bridge.

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
Jay Hood Wright Park, near 174th and Fort Washington Avenue, with a jungle gym inspired by the nearby bridge.

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
A major feature of this neighborhood is the Columbia-Presbyterian medical complex. On the left, the Fort Washington Armory, between W. 168th and W. 169th Sts. According to the AIA Guide to New York City, behind this Romanesque arch was "one of the world's largest exam rooms (written) for those seeking architect's, engineer's, nurse's, et. al., licensure." (p. 566)

From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
It's the 100th anniversary of The Grinnell, an historic apartment building that sits on an unusual triangular lot at the intersection of Broadway and Riverside Drive. Very much thanks to Matthew Spady, the organizer of the centennial events, as well as webmaster extraordinaire of the Audubon Park Historic District, for inviting me to his building's birthday party celebrations this past Sunday. The residents I met took great pride in their building. Check out the website and Matthew's great virtual walking tour of the neighborhood.
From an Autumn Walk in Upper Manhattan
Blue skies provide a good backdrop for the Sutherland at 611 West 158th Street. See website for more information on this building and others in the historic district.
Just walk a couple more blocks and find the amazing Audubon Terrace.


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Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday, October 17, 2010. More images in this set on Flickr WOTBA.





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