The meaning of “Dyckman” has come to stand for much more than the Northern Manhattan street after which it is named. When called out, “Dyckman” often stands for the pride of place for many of the Dominican residents of the surrounding neighborhood. Sometimes, narrowly, Dyckman refers to the vibrant nightlife along the street, especially west of Broadway. Before the current public health crisis, residents and visitors alike packed the popular restaurants on the street, especially in milder weather, for its outdoor cafe scene. In the summertime, this strip of Dyckman Street feels like New York’s answer to Miami Beach.
|View of Dyckman Street sign with Fort Tryon Park and The Met Cloisters in the background.|
Dyckman Street, essentially 200th Street in numerals, traverses the top of Manhattan from the northwest to the southeast, from the Hudson River on the west and on past Broadway to the Harlem River on the east side. Named after Dutch farmer William Dyckman whose farmhouse still stands as a historic house museum a few blocks north on Broadway, the street is mostly a busy commercial strip, expect for park areas on either end. The street sits above the active Dyckman Street Fault, which experienced a magnitude 2 earthquake in 1989.
|Murals painted on Dyckman Street during protests against police violence in June 2020.|
The street serves as an often-contested demarcation of the neighborhoods of Inwood to the north and Washington Heights to the south. On its western boundaries, west of Broadway, this line is something of a mute point, as the formidable Fort Tryon Park and The Met Cloisters with it, dominate the territory. East of Broadway, the area on either side of Dyckman’s main commercial strip is largely residential.
|Murals painted by local artists commemorate the lives of those killed by police. |
In great waves over time, the primordial green and hilly landscape of upper Manhattan has served as home to indigenous peoples, Dutch explorers from New Amsterdam, colonial troops fighting for independence, wealthy landowners, Eastern European Jews, Polish Catholics, Irish and Dominican immigrants, and artists and adventurers from all lands. According to Data USA , in 2017 the Inwood neighborhood was 45.1% Hispanic or Latino, 28.4% White, and 22.2% Black or African American. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (c. 1947) lived with his family in Dyckman Houses at the time Inwood was largely an Irish neighborhood. Broadway composer and playwright Lin-Manual Miranda (b. 1980) comes from Inwood, too, but born into a neighborhood that was growing more diverse.
|Artists painted boarded-up businesses with positive messages on Dyckman Street. |
Broadway marks a more significant boundary in the neighborhood, dividing the two sides of the Inwood neighborhood by race and income. West of Broadway, the area is whiter, with more residents living in co-op housing. The racial and income differences have long spilled into the culture as well, often manifested by gentrifiers filing multiple noise complaints, especially on Dyckman west of Broadway. *
|Artists include @artmandan @chase_lives @sotethegoat @inwoodlove. Follow them on Instagram.|
In recent years, new residents have been resettling in the area from rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in other areas of the city. This trend has not gone without anxiety, as longtime residents have naturally grown cautious about the potential for Uptown to become gentrified, nondescript, and indeed too expensive. Inwood residents have shown unity and resolve in fighting City Hall from rezoning efforts.
(Find additional images of Dyckman Street on my Instagram feed - @ttynes)
On the evening of Tuesday, June 2, in the growing wave of street demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd, Dyckman Street served as a flashpoint for race, culture, and politics. In an incident captured on video and amplified on social media, a group of Dominican men warned a group of African-American protestors to leave. * In another event, a group of locals held an anti-looting march to support Latino-owned businesses. The incident immediately sparked a dialogue online and on the street about self-perceptions of blackness and colorism within the Dominican community and the shared struggle.
|Murals at Mamajuana Cafe on Dyckman Street.|
That’s just a little of the context for the images represented here. On the evening of June 3, local artists came together with local restaurant owners on Dyckman to create murals affirming the messages of unity and justice.
|"Work in Progress"|
The work, and the neighborhood, as they say, is still in progress.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from June 5 and 6, 2020.
• See “Inwood Is Actually Two Neighborhoods Divided by Race, Class and Broadway” by Nigel Chiwaya and Carolina Pichardo DNA Info. July 19, 2016. (link)
• View the video and commentary: NEW YORK’S DYCKMAN DOMINICANS OUST PROTESTORS FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD. The Source. June 3, 2020. (link)
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