181st Street in Manhattan – Washington Heights

A few photos I took of a typical evening on 181st Street in Washington Heights a few days ago.

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We live on the edge of the Dominican area of Washington Heights. That might sound an odd thing to say, because Washington Heights has been mostly Dominican for decades, but that is slowly starting to change as rents go up. When we walk further north towards 181st Street, the look and feel of the streets changes. My wife says it reminds her of the Philippines, which isn’t surprising, given the heavy Spanish influence on her home country. Many Filipino customs are derived and adapted from Spanish customs.

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This last image is on Amsterdam Avenue, facing downtown.

Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers

West Harlem Piers Last Tuesday

There’s a Fairways grocery right next to this pier, so when we go there to shop we like to walk out on the pier and look around for a while. The view is amazing! The Fairways there is pretty cool too, by the way. They have a huge room that is completely refrigerated. It’s odd because it’s like walking down a normal grocery store aisle, but there’s yogurt and butter sitting on the shelf.

Downtown-facing View from West Harlem Piers

Downtown-facing View from West Harlem Piers

Anyway, there’s a great view of the New Jersey side of the river from the pier. The view of downtown isn’t as good as what you see from Riverbank State Park on 138th – 137th Street, and it’s certainly not as good as the view from the middle of the George Washington Bridge, but it’s nice. The breeze is nice, especially on the pier over the water, and there are shaded benches to sit down on.

Chinese man flying a homemade kite.

Chinese man flying a homemade kite.

 

While we were there we saw two guys boxing. Some people were reading. Others were just passing through, like us. One really interesting old man was putting together a homemade kite using disposable wooden chopsticks (like from take-out) and a plastic take-out bag with the smiley face on it. It seemed to be working for him; he just couldn’t catch the breeze before we left to go to Fairways.

People sitting on the West Harlem Piers

People sitting on the West Harlem Piers

I love how the city is installing these small parks all along the waterfront. Last year this section was closed off. You see, it’s part of the Hudson River Greenway, a long running and biking track that will eventually encircle the entire island of Manhattan and link up with bridge paths leading to other cycling and running trails in other boroughs. I also thought the historical information presented on plaques mounted on the railing of the northern pier was a nice touch. It gives a brief history of the area and how it was used as a market. I didn’t really understand the short phrases on what looked like chopped up road signs in the greenery right across the street from Fairways though. There’s not enough context.

Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers

Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers

I’d really like to get bicycles for myself and my wife so we can spend an afternoon cycling around Manhattan, literally. Maybe next year. Summer is drawing to a close. We didn’t do as much as we wanted, but we did enough and we had fun, relaxed, and recharged.

Classes start again on Thursday. My first class of the semester is Friday, and then there’s a long weekend.

Beautiful Old Building on 86th Street

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Scattered throughout Manhattan (and presumably other boroughs that I don’t go to often) there are older buildings mixed in with new construction. I love these older buildings. They have more character than some of the monstrosities that people are building today, like the hideous Preschool of the Arts @ Cooper Square building, for example:

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Who came up with this? What were they thinking?

I’m reminded of a city ordinance in Jerusalem that requires all new buildings to be faced in Jerusalem stone to maintain the character and traditional look of the city. Some might say that stifles creativity and artistic expression, but I’d rather see a traditional, beautiful Jerusalem than one filled with buildings that look like the one above.

Places have a certain look and feel to them that should be preserved. But, that’s just my opinion. I love history in general so it’s not really surprising to me that I would prefer historic buildings. I’m not sure how an ordinance like Jerusalem’s could be implemented here though. How does one build a skyscraper that looks like a 19th century townhouse?