Walk in NYC # 15, in Hudson Heights and Washington Heights, is a 4 miles self guided tour with views at the north tip of Manhattan.
It will take you about 2.5 hours if strolling and taking photos, much more if you visit the museums along the way.
You’ll see pretty parks, varied neighborhoods, the oldest house in Manhattan, two surprising terraces, two cloisters. You’ll also use many stairs and be able to compare the imposing Washington Bridge to the old High Bridge.
NB: depending on the maps, Hudson Heights, on the North West side of this walk, is or is not part of Washington Heights. It also happens that Fort George, on the North East side of this walk, sometimes includes Hudson Heights!
Highlights: Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters, Hudson View Gardens, George Washington Bridge, Bennett Park, Hood Wright Park, United Palace, Plaza de Las Americas, High Bridge Park, High Bridge, Morris-Jumel House, Sylvan Terrace, Church of the Intercession, Audubon Terrace, Hispanic Society Museum.
Metro: 190 St. or Dyckham St. on the A line (start), 157 St. on the 1 line or 155 St. on the A line (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 Tryon Park, Hood Park, and in the museums and mansions. Options to eat will be best around W 181st St or at the end of the trek. Benches will be plentiful in the parks.
A: Your tour starts at 190 St. Metro station if you want to exit the metro through a large and old elevator. You will reach an entrance transporting you to medieval time and giving you a chance to explore Fort Tryon in details: you’ll walk one way to reach the Cloisters, then another to get back to Fort Washington Ave.
Otherwise, stay in the subway until Dyckman St. station to reach the Cloisters more rapidly.
From 190 St. metro, walk toward the entrance of Fort Tryon; go straight to the Stan Michels Promenade to access Linden Terrace.
There, you’ll have views on the Hudson river, the Washington Bridge and the forested New Jersey shore.
This park is hilly with many stairs, granite stone walls and bridges. You’ll find many possible paths to reach the Cloisters, the one of the map is just a suggestion. Basically, though, keep mainly on your left without going down too much otherwise you’ll have to go up again.
B: The Cloisters is an unusual but adequate place to host the Medieval European Art collection of the Met as it was made from medieval structures bought in Europe. If you enter and visit the museum, it’s not sure you’ll do the rest of the walk so just have a look at it for now!
Once done, face the way you came and keep left to go back to Fort Washington Av. You’ll now explore the side of the park looking toward Harlem River and Fort George.
If you came through Dyckman St metro station, keep right once at the Cloisters, the path there is more varied than the one on the left.
In both cases, back on the avenue, go straight until W 190th St. on your right; then Cabrini Blvd on your left until W 187th St. on your right.
You want to go on Chittenden Ave, a small and quiet street overlooking the Hudson river. It will offer you good views of the Washington Bridge.
At its end, take W 186th St. then follow again Cabrini Blvd for a few yards. When you see a stair on your left, take it. It will more or less be in front of a complex of cooperative apartment buildings called Castle Village, with doormen in uniform.
You’ll then reach Pinehurst Ave, only to realize the passageway you took was a private one reserved for the Castle Village tenants.
C: Take Pinehurst Ave on your right until Bennett Park.
It’s the highest natural point in Manhattan with old canons and a panel telling you why there are there. With its rows of benches, it’s also a meeting point for the locals
Next, keep walking to the end of Pinehurst Ave.
There’s a stair there that will perhaps make you think you are in Montmartre.
At its bottom, turn left on W 181st St. You are suddenly in a busy street with many local restaurants and ethnics grocery stores.
If you are not interested in exploring them, take Fort Washington Ave on your right as soon as you reach it. Otherwise, wait until you reach Broadway. It will lead you back to Fort Washington Ave with a detour.
C: Your destination is the J. Hood Wright park.
To reach it, you’ll have to go under Highway 95 by the Greyhound building with its interesting if somewhat depressing architecture. The park will perhaps give you the same impression; yet if you go through it toward the river, you’ll find an esplanade with one of the best views of the Washington Bridge, much open than the previous ones on this tour.
Once you have enjoyed the view, retrace your steps. Take W 175th St. more or less in front of the park.
D: On Broadway and on your right, you’ll see the United Palace building with its eclectic architectural styles. It was once a grand movie theater and is now an interfaith spiritual center; next to it, the Plaza de Las Americas where there’s often an open door market.
Keep going on W 175th St. until Amsterdam Ave, a 15mn walk.
You’ll realize that the many nationalities composing the neighborhood are indeed coming from Las Americas. Spanish seems the dominant language. At one point, it even looks like mechanics do their trade along the sidewalks, like in many countries south of the border. But who knows what they are really doing?
E: In any case, once on Amsterdam Ave, turn right and find the entrance of the High Bridge park; it will be on your left after the High Bridge Recreation Center.
You’ll pass along a swimming pool and see the pretty High Bridge Water Tower, under renovation at this time (Nov 2020).
Keep going, even though you’ll think you have reached a dead end. You’ll eventually find a steep staircase behind the swimming pool. It will lead you to the Harlem river and the High Bridge, the oldest bridge of the city, once used as an aqueduct.
It’s now a pedestrian walkway linking Manhattan to the Bronx, with benches to sit high over the river.
When you tired of the view, retrace your steps and this time, keep walking south, far above the Harlem river.
You wouldn’t have thought you could feel so far from the town even though you can hear the roars of the cars below you. Beware, though, it’s not sure the trail is safe at night, it’s a very lonely one.
F: Follow it at least 15 minutes to reach two of the strangest places in the city: the 1st one is the presumably haunted Morris-Jumel Mansion and its interesting history. It sits along the historic Jumel Terrace and its row of Queen Anne style houses.
G: The 2nd one, in front of it, is the quaint Sylvan Terrace with its picture-perfect 19th century townhouses.
You’ll have to ring if you want to have a tour of the Jumel house; that will be the only way to verify if it houses ghosts or not.
After, that, you’ll follow Sylvan Terrace to its end; the staircase you’ll find will lead you to St Nicholas Ave.
Turn left then pick any streets you want to go to W 155th St. Turn right on it.
H: Once you’ve cross Amsterdam Ave, you’ll see on your left many buildings part of the Church of the Intercession. There’s a pretty cloister there, worth a look if its doors are open.
I: Your final destination is the Audubon Terrace, on your right once you cross Broadway.
It’s a large courtyard with Beaux Arts/American Renaissance buildings conceived as a cultural campus. You’ll find there the Hispanic Society Museum, a perfect ending to this walk once it reopens after some major renovation. It houses artworks from Spain, Portugal and Latin America.
Next to it, the 157 St. metro will allow you to go to other destinations.
On Citywalks.space, you’ll find a blog with articles about places in NY worth a look and more photos of the city.
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!