Skip to main content

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.    

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

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

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

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 American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

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

A New York Spring Calendar: Blooming Times and Seasonal Events

See the UPDATED 2018 CALENDAR HERE . Updated for 2017 . At this time of year, thoughts turn to spring. Let's spring forward to blooming times, the best locations for witnessing spring's beginnings, and springtime events in the big city. While the occasional snow could blow through the city, we're just weeks now from callery pears in bloom and opening day at the ballpark. In The Ramble, Central Park. mid-April Blooming Times •  Central Park Conservancy's website  lists blooming times within the park. During the month of March we begin to see crocus, daffodils, forsythia, snowdrops, witch-hazel, and hellebores. Species tulips will emerge in several places, but the Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden are particularly good places to catch the beginning of Spring blooms. Central Park near E. 72nd St., saucer magnolia, typically end of March. •  Citywide Blooming Calendar from New York City Department of Parks & Recreation April is u

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

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

Edward Steichen and the Flatiron Building

March 27 is the birthday of photographer Edward Steichen (March 27, 1879 - March 25, 1973), so let's use the fact as an excuse to revel in his photograph of the Flatiron Building. Edward Steichen, The Flatiron, 1904. The Flatiron , or Fuller Building as it was known originally, at 175 Fifth Avenue sits on a triangular block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street. The Renaissance-style building, completed in 1902, tapers at 23rd Street, often creating a wind tunnel that lifts skirts and such. Hence, the phrase - "23 skidoo," as policemen were said to announce to those watching the skirt lifting. Daniel Burnham designed the building using a novel method of skeleton steel construction. Alfred Stieglitz. Flatiron Building, 1903 About the Steichen photograph: • Steichen, trained as a painter, was influential in establishing photography as a fine art. • Steichen photographed the Flatiron Building when it was considered novel. • He photographed