Saturday, 8 December 2007

Today I walked the length of Manhattan island - about 13 and a half miles. I did this by walking the length of Broadway in Manhattan. I decided not to take a map (how lost can you get following one road and walking mostly straight north?) or water (no shortages of places to buy this!).

I was lucky to have a cool day with lots of sunlight and no precipitation or heavy winds.

I did make a few notes on my progress as I was walking - here's how it went :-

06:10 - Leave apartment in Battery Park City in the Financial District. It's dark. There are a few people around though, opening up shop and taking deliveries mainly,

06:25 - Arrive at Bowling Green, a small historic park near the southern tip of the island. Broadway - which runs the length of Manhattan and into the Bronx - starts here. Broadway started as a Native American trail which ran through the brush of Manhattan island. I start walking north, following Broadway.

06:27 - Walk past Wall Street. Trinity Church is on my left - a historic church has stood at this point since 1698.

06:30 - The World Trade Center site is visible on the left, lit up by floodlights. Walk past St. Paul's Chapel, part of the parish of Trinity Church. St. Paul's Chapel is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City. Since 9-11 it has become a place of reconciliation.

06:40 - Walk past Canal Street. The arty Downtown districts of TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal) and SoHo (South of Houston St) are to my left, Chinatown and Little Italy are to my right. The population of the small neighbourhood of Chinatown is estimated to be around 200,000, out of around 1.5 million in the whole of Manhattan.

06:45 - Walk past Houston Street. The streets have numbers rather than names not far north of here, an indication that I'm starting to leave Downtown and touristy Midtown is next.

07:00 - Walk through Union Square and past 14th Street, leaving Downtown behind. Broadway starts to deviate a bit to the left, rather than straight up. The Empire State Building is clearly visible ahead. Looking back I can see all the way downtown. It's light now and the sun is shining between the buildings. People are putting up market stalls for the day.

07:30 - Walk through Herald Square and past 34th Street. I'm in the Midtown district of Little Korea now. Walk past a soup kitchen on my left.

07:45 - Walk past 45th Street in Times Square. I'm passing big displays for Reuters, Good Morning America, Fox News, MTV and so on. It's crowded with tourists already - this is the only point on the whole walk where I feel like I have to struggle a bit to walk through crowds.

08:05 - Walk past Columbus Circle, on the southwestern corner of Central Park. Pop into a FedEx Kinko's to get a pen, as the one I brought to make notes has started to run out. Broadway runs some way to the west of Central Park, but the sight of trees and smell of fresh air is welcome. I'm leaving Midtown behind - north of here is the posh Upper West Side.

08:10 - The Metropolitan Opera is visible on the left. Walk past 65th Street a.k.a. Leonard Bernstein Place.

08:25 - Walk past 72nd Street, a.k.a. Verdi Square.

08:35 - Walk past 84th Street, a.k.a. Edgar Allan Poe Street. Broadway is now running straight up again, way over on the west side of Manhattan.

08:45 - Corner of 95th Street. I think I'm approximately halfway now so stop for a drink and quick snack at a Starbucks.

08:55 - Start walking again. I've been told that 96th Street marks the approximate northern boundary of the wealthy Uptown districts.

09:05 - Walk past 106th Street, a.k.a. Duke Ellington Boulevard.

09:10 - Walk past 110th Street. The massive Gothic Cathedral of St. John the Divine is just visible on the right. After a bit of an uneven start earlier, I'm walking a block every minute now and will keep this steady pace up for the rest of the walk.

09:15 - Walk past 115th Street. I'm on the campus of Columbia University. Impressive old architecture, lots of space, and very few people.

09:25 - Walk past 126th Street, which marks the southern boundary of Harlem in the west.

09:35 - Walk past 135th Street. Notice a poster for a demonstration to get Army recruiters out of the area.

09:55 - Walk past 154th Street. There are more and more signboards in Spanish here, which means that I've arrived in the mainly Latino district of Washington Heights (named after Fort Washington, the fortifications constructed by the American troops in the area during the war of Independence). As the name of Washington Heights suggests, the road north undulates with gentle rises and dips - after an almost entirely flat walk so far.

10:00 - Walk past 157th Street, a.k.a. Edward M. Morgan Place. Morgan was a former Postmaster of New York City; Edward Morgan was also the name of my grandfather, so I take this as a good sign. Spanish is now the dominant language - on signs, magazines, and newspapers - and there are many shops with Western Union or Moneygram remittance services.

10:20 - Walk past 178th Street. The George Washington Bridge which spans the Hudson between Manhattan and New Jersey is visible on the left.

10:30 - Walk past 189th Street. Less Spanish on the signboards - English is making a comeback, and Russian and Hebrew are present as well. The area feels a bit more suburban, with more space between dwellings, and more parks and green spaces visible.

10:35 - Fort Tryon Park is on the left. Lots of greenery and fresh air. The park was the site of the Battle of Fort Washington during the War of Independence, which was won by the British side (although most of the fighting on behalf of the British was done by German mercenaries).

10:50 - Walk past 204th Street. I'm in Inwood, Manhattan's northernmost neighbourhood. So I'm nearly there! It feels like the suburbs here - serene, quiet, nicely manicured parks, and a few families doing weekend shopping. Even though it's still in Manhattan.

11:01 - 215th Street. The subway station is on my right, up a few steps. I've made it!


peacay said...

Thanks S. Good read. I didn't even go for a map. And you walked back of course? So, are you there for good?? I'm a little jealous actually. When I was young the idea of the States was not attractive but I would happily go these days. Have fun!

Paramendra Bhagat said...

I think I am going to do this walk tomorrow. So it is five hours? I will be taking hundreds of pictures to post on Facebook.

Andrea said...

I just did the same myself and it was SO AMAZING! It took me 6 hours. I posted pics in Facebook. What a blast! I love how you wrote about it here.

Donald said...

I really enjoyed reading your notes. They brought back memories. I walked the length of Manhattan (Bowling Green Park to Marble Hill, 225th Street) in July. Great experience. I wish I would have taken notes. Great idea. I did take lots of pictures. They are on my blog. I would like you to look at them. They will probably bring back memories of your walk.

kimberlysthree said...

My husband and I did this walk a few weekends ago. We absolutely loved it and saw some fantastic sights along the way. Our photos, highlights and tips are all available on my blog here

Feel free to check it out if you are considering doing this walk! :)

Ted Rogers said...

this is really cool, thank you.