Skip to main content

Up by the Riverside: A Walk From 116th to 96th in Riverside Park

(revised April 2017) With the sun assuming its declining power in the course of a day and with thoughts ahead of autumn colors, it's a good time of the year to investigate our repertory of walks for the season. With its abundance of mature trees, especially a canopied esplanade that rivals Central Park's Mall, and views of the Hudson River, we need to include Riverside Park in our go-to paces for the fall.

The entirety of this great long swath of park, from W. 72nd in the Upper West Side to 158th St. in Audubon Terrace, is worthy of a long walk, but these four miles may best be appreciated in one-mile segments. This post considers several features from 116th to 96th, starting in Morningside Heights near Columbia University and then walking south to W. 96th Street. Nearby subway stops on these respective streets provide convenient access to the park.



Before descending into the park proper at W. 116th, stop to look at the marble stele fountain on the west side of Riverside Drive. The monument depicts two classical garbed women holding a lamp. Underneath them, we read the words “ERECTED BY THE WOMAN'S HEALTH PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK CITY TO COMMEMORATE ITS TWENTY FIFTH YEAR OF ACTIVITY ON BEHALF OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH 1884 1909." According to the NYC Parks page on the fountain (see Resources below post), members of the city's suffragette community commissioned the monument. Given the debate about women's health issues in this election year, the fountain could serve as a geographical rallying point for continued struggles. By the way, the drinking fountain actually works and serves the needs of runners along Riverside Drive.



Riverside Park cascades down to multiple levels behind its retaining walls. This section, part of the original park (72nd to 125th, planned and developed from 1875 to 1910), retains the ideals of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, among others, to extend the look of the Hudson River Valley into the city. Descending the stairs into the leafy park allows for a conscious transition from the world of the built city above to the natural world below.

Walking through Riverside Park feels like stepping outside the city, but at the same time, a walk here feels like being a part of an older city. We should remember that this section of the park is just south of Grant's Tomb, inaugurated in 1897 and one of the most popular visitor attractions in the city a hundred years ago.



The mature sycamore and London Plane-trees of the esplanade between 101st and 110th Streets lend the park an aging beauty, and their falling leaves create fanciful dancing swirls with each burst of northwesterly wind. Other important trees here include the famed Cherry Trees along the Cherry Walk and many graceful American Elms. At 105th Street, Ellington on the Park (replaced the Hudson Beach Cafe), opened seasonally, offers a sweet spot to take in the sunset over the river. Walking south, the sports fields come into view, providing a good perspective of the different terrace levels of the park.





On a final note, near 97th Street, look for signs indicating the restoration of the Carrère Memorial Stairs. The terrace and balustrade is named for architect John Mervin Carrère (1858–1911) and designed by his partner Thomas Hastings (1869-1929). The memorial to Carrère was completed and donated to the city in 1916. The firm of Carrère and Hastings designed the facade of the New York Public Library, the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, the William Starr Miller house (now the Neue Galerie), and Grand Army Plaza, among other major works.



You can find a path out of the park at 96th and catch the convenient 1,2,3 train at the subway stop on Broadway. On the other hand, the occasion of a nice day may suggest an excuse to keep walking.


Resources:

Riverside Park Fund's History of the Park page

NYC Parks page on the Women's Health Protective Association Fountain

NYC Parks page on the Carrère Memorial


View Riverside Park: 116th to 96th in a larger map

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from September 17, 2012. Reminder: Clicking on the pictures enlarges them.

Comments

Phil Davis said…
Nice post. It makes me want to go there. I haven't been to that stretch of Riverside Park in a couple of years and it is especially beautiful when the leaves turn.
Very nice, Teri. And I love the title, Up by the Riverside. Our last visit to New York, we got to Grant's Tomb for the first time. I want to explore that area more.

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north.  Near Beacon, a view of autumn colors from the Metro-North Hudson line One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red.  Autumn light in Hastings-on-Hudson Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.   Autumn leaves on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Hastings Still, October is a gr

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City. View of the Hudson River from the Keeper's House The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington. Recommended purchase - a map det

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK. What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss . While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99  New York City Compass , designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a cert

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli