#GreatManhattanLoop: Upper West Side

By | June 3, 2012

Sometime during yesterday’s walk when I was uploading photos to Instagram, #greatmanhattanloop hit me. It’s perfect for this little endeavor of mine, which reached 2012: Stage 3 yesterday. I know I’m still due to write on Part 2, but the week got away from me. Oops

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and the rest of the photos.The plan for yesterday’s walk was to go from the 79th St. Boat Basin to Grant’s Tomb but then the best laid plans went haywire…

Due to a change in plans in charging my phone, I ended up taking a bus that dropped me at 87th & West End. I considered dropping back down to 79th St. but didn’t end up doing that. I’ve missed enough pieces on my walks that I won’t let a few missed blocks bug me. I can pick them up if I seriously do the Great Saunter next May.

So instead I walked west to Riverside Drive, turned north and immediately was presented with the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. I really had no idea there was so much Civil War history in New York City but I’ve enjoyed stumbling on it.

I really didn’t enjoy the walk through Riverside Park and knew I wanted to be down by the water, so I decided around 96th Street to take the bath that went under the West Side Highway and allowed me to walk on the river side. It was a great decision because the views were amazing, but I realized when I got up into the 120s that there was no access back to 125th Street as there had been down from 96th and I’d miss Grant’s Tomb and the Riverside Church. I was disappointed, but decided I’d watch sunset from Riverbank State Park.

When I got to West Harlem Piers Park at St. Clair Place I saw I was at grade with 125th and could, in fact, double back to Grant’s Tomb, but I realized how quickly the walk was going and decided I’d save that for another day when I walked Riverside Drive. West Harlem Piers Park was a pleasant surprise – and more gorgeous views of the George Washington as well. I continued north along the Manhattan Greenway, which I’ve followed through most of the last week and a good chunk of last Spring’s walk and at one point I wasn’t sure if I should take the stairs onto Riverside Drive or if I should continue along the Greenway. I stayed at sea level and realized that I should have taken the stairs for easier access into Riverbank State Park. However I was still able to access it via stairs from the 145th St. end.

At that point, with the walk going so well I’d reevaluated my goal (again) and opted to try for the Little Red Lighthouse for sunset. However, I was in dire need of a potty. Riverside Park is definitely less developed than Hudson River Park in terms of vendors and facilities. Luckily, there were bathroom’s in the Park’s cultural center. The kids’ carusel at Riverbank is very modern and overall, I don’t feel like it “fits” the shoreline. However, the views are fantastic and it provides some great facilities (pool, skating rink, ballfields) that are apparently sorely lacking in the neighborhood.

From there, it was a short hop into the south end of Fort Washington Park where the lighthouse is located. The trail is definitely lesser developed at this point, but it’s well signed and QUIET. Apart from the bridge noise, the park is so tranquil. I really loved it. Part of Phillip Lopate’s assertion in Waterfront is that he’s unable to see his city through the lens of a tourist whereas I felt the total opposite. I arrived near the Lighthouse well in advance of sunset** and settled in with a book, a granola bar and diet pepsi and felt as if I was traveling again. I’d actually felt like I was traveling for most of the last week. Lots of non English speakers, my “life” tossed into a tote bag and I was set. Especially when my iPhone battery inevitably died. As you can tell by the photos above, I was positively enamored by sunset.

**not continuing north was three-fold. 1) the lighthouse was my goal and I couldn’t imagine a prettier place to take in sunset 2) my legs hurt and 3) I didn’t realize just how close I was to the northern tip of Manhattan. The latter, once I realized it on the subway map when I walked UP to the A disappointed me, but I know there are plenty of weekends left. Speaking of UP…. oh.my.god. I knew from reading that Washington Heights/180s were the highest natural areas of Manhattan but those words don’t actually mean anything until you walk UP from river level. I’m still feeling it in my quads.

Was a wonderful day and a wonderful walk. It made me love the West Side even more, but I also feel as if I’m neglecting the East Side. On the agenda for next weekend is Egg Rolls & Egg Creams and I wonder how much of that I can walk along the River…

4 thoughts on “#GreatManhattanLoop: Upper West Side

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