Walk in NYC # 14, from Hamilton Heights to Morningside Heights, is a 4 miles self-guided tour that will take you about 2.5 hours to complete if strolling and taking photos, much more if you visit the galleries, museums, and churches along the way.
You’ll also see historical houses and memorials, two universities, some churches, and you’ll walk along the Hudson river.
Highlights: Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the City College of NY, West Harlem Piers, the USS Baylander, the Wallach Art Gallery, General Grant National Monument, the Riverside Church, Columbia University, the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, Nicholas Roerich Museum.
Metro: 135 St, line B or C (start) and 103 St, line B or C (end).
Bus: use an app like Citymapper to find the best options with bus #, waiting time, list of stops, and where you are in the city once you’ve boarded. Your Metrocard or OMNY account will work and will be valid for transfers to the Metro and other buses. Express buses are more expensive but you can buy your ticket at the stop. The drivers are generally very helpful!
Good to know: You’ll find restrooms in the public places along your way; benches quite often and different food options too.
A: Your tour starts at 135 St Station.
Once out, walk along St Nicholas Ave and Park until W 141th St. Take it on your left.
The Hamilton Grange National Memorial will be on your left and you won’t miss it: it’s a two story Federal Style house that stands out. There, you’ll learn everything about Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of the USA. If you plan in advance, you will even be able to take a guided tour of the house.
B: Next, go back to W 141th St.; turn left until you reach Convent Ave and take it on your left.
You’ll see the gates of the City College of New York. Go inside to admire this unusual white stone Collegiate Gothic style campus.
Once you reach the more contemporary part of the College, turn right. Climb some stairs and go through an opening in the building to reach a gallery on your right, along Amsterdam Ave. The map here is not accurate but you’ll see the path once you are there!
The gallery is devoted to art expressing the Dominican experience; not the country but the order! It seems open on appointment only, though, but try your luck anyway!
C:Next, turn left to exit the gallery and left on Amsterdam Ave. Once at W 135th or W 134th St., turn right until Broadway. At W 132nd St., turn right again and walk until the river. You’ll have to go under Riverside Drive and the busy Henry Hudson Pkwy.
In the distance the USS Baylander; it’s a decommissioned Vietnam-era vessel used later to train helicopter pilots. Until recently, it was a community museum open a few hours on the week-ends, but now, in season, it’s a cool place to sit, have a drink and something to eat when looking at the river.
D: After that, go back under the Hudson Pkwy and Riverside Drive to find W 125th St.
You’ll pass along the Cotton Club, a replica of a famous Harlem jazz club of the 1930’s. Then, left on 126th St. you’ll see the Wallach Art Gallery. Part of Columbia University, it shows cutting edge contemporary art.
E: Once your visit there is over if it’s the kind of art you like, reverse your steps to reach Riverside Drive and turn left. Once it makes a fork, enter the park in the middle of it.
You’ll see the dome of the General Grant Memorial in the distance. It’s quite a large mausoleum and it will guide you along the trails of the park. If you plan well, you’ll also be able to visit it, and learn more about the 18th president of the USA and his wife, as well as the architecture of the place. Beware, though, the hours of operation are quite unusual or even unpredictable. Check their website before!
F: Next to it, it will be easier to have a look at the Riverside Church. The whole building is grand, outside and inside, with a gym underground, a theater, four stories of offices, two naves and a lot of public and religious art.
G: Once out (it can be on Riverside Dr or Claremont Ave depending on where you went in the church), take W 120th St. on your left. Then on your right, find a stair going up to the main Columbia University campus.
Once on top, go straight to reach a huge plaza called College Walk, surrounded by two imposing buildings, both libraries. The one on your left is home to the visitors center, a chance to go inside to have a look at the architecture and even, perhaps, take a guided tour there.
Once out, turn left to reach the Philosophy building. Then turn left in front of it, and right along it. It will lead you to the Law building with some interesting sculptures in front of it, on an overpass over Amsterdam Ave.
On your way, have also a look at the inside of the university chapel that you’ll see on your left. It’s Byzantine interior is unexpected when you see its more classical Italian renaissance exterior.
To reach the W 116th St., find a stair then a pathway to your right once on the plaza. Or ask a student, it’s a bit of a maze here!
H: Once on W 116th St., you can either turn right then left on Amsterdam Ave, or turn left to reach Morningside Dr. (that’s what is on the map).
This second option will allow you to have a look at the mysterious park below. Then you’ll take W 113th St. on your right to go back to Amsterdam Ave.
In both cases, your goal is the Gothic Revival Cathedral Church of St John The Divine. It’s one of, if not the largest Anglican Church in the world; it’s also nicknamed John the Unfinished as it’s still a work in progress.
There’s a lot to see inside, with information leaflets to help you get acquainted with the place. The sculptures in a small park outside on its right are also worth a detour.
I: Your last stop will be the Nicholas Roerich Museum. You should reach it before 3pm as it often closes around 4 pm (but can stay open for musical events). It will be your chance to see about 200 colorful and spiritual paintings of this Russian “Master of Mountains”, and travel far away from NYC. It’s also another one of the rare free museums in NYC, housed on 3 floors in a classic townhouse.
To go there, follow Amsterdam Ave toward W 107th St. Take it on your right, the museum will be just before Riverside Drive.
A little more walking will get you to the entrance of the 103 St Metro station on Broadway, and it will be the end of this tour.
If you liked the photos in this article, you’ll find more on Citywalks.space.
Before you go, don’t forget your guide and see how to thank him at the bottom of the page. Then enjoy the rest of your day!