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Secret Places of Upper Manhattan: Visit these 20 historic sites in Washington Heights and Inwood

PODCAST A tour of historic sites in Washington Heights and Inwood, an unusual set of landmarks and curious locations that comprise virtually 400 years of Upper Manhattan history.

In Washington Heights and Inwood, the 2 Manhattan neighborhoods above West 155th Road, the New York grid plan begins to develop into irrelevant, with avenues and streets preferring to evolve to northern Manhattan’s extra rugged terrain. Consequently, one can discover features of almost 400 years of New York Metropolis history here — alongside a secluded waterfront or tucked high upon a shaded hill.

In this episode, we take a look at four specific historic landmarks of Upper Manhattan, places that have survived into present day, whilst their environment have develop into significantly altered.

— A picturesque cemetery — the final resting place for mayors, writers and scandal makers — cut up in two;

— An ageing farmhouse as soon as linked to New York’s solely surviving pure forest with a Revolutionary secret in its yard;

— A Roman-inspired waterway that when offered an important hyperlink to New York Metropolis’s survival;

— And an enthralling little lighthouse, overwhelmed by an incredible bridge and saved by a wierd twist of fame.

Pay attention Now — Secret Places of Upper Manhattan

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And that’s just the start! Upper Manhattan holds a number of fascinating, awe-inspiring sites of historical and cultural curiosity. For many who reside and work in Washington Heights and Inwood, these historic landmarks might be acquainted to you. For everyone else, prepare for a brand new record of mysterious landmarks and fascinating places to explore this summer time.

Twenty exceptional locations of historic interest in Washington Heights and Inwood

After you take heed to our podcast episode, take a look at all twenty sites listed under — by foot, by bike or by subway. Beneath the article, you’ll find a Google Map that you should use that will help you navigate the uptown city streets.


In 1842, with the town rapidly growing and new burials banned from decrease Manhattan, Trinity Church constructed a second cemetery, approach, means out of city upon property owned by naturalist John James Audubon (1785–1851). It was a spot for quiet contemplation—till they plowed Broadway by means of it in 1871, splitting Trinity’s peaceful cemetery in two (and disinterring dozens of our bodies in the process). Eliza Jumel, John Jacob Astor, Ed Koch and Clement Clarke Moore (the writer of ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas‘) are buried right here. (770 Riverside Drive)


This pocket of majestic Beaux-Arts palaces surrounds a sculpture garden that may take a look at residence in the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Frick Assortment. The Audubon Terrace’s remoteness is an enormous part of its allure. Audubon owned twenty acres of rolling hills, perfect for his naturalistic obsessions, and when he died in 1851, the land was parceled off right into a shaded neighborhood named Audubon Park.

Philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington developed a number of institutions right here including the Hispanic Society of America and the unique Museum of the American Indian (which later moved downtown to even loftier digs). Boriqua School additionally makes its residence here at this time.
(Broadway and West 155th Road)


Polo Grounds Towers, a housing challenge on West 155th Road, marks the former spot of the Polo Grounds (1890–1964), the legendary stadium that was house to 3 major baseball groups (Yankees, Mets, and Giants) and the first residence to soccer’s New York Jets.

A shocking vestige remains at present: a staircase, linking the low-lying east aspect to the high promontory referred to as Coogan’s Bluff. The stairs have been installed in 1913, linking public transit on the bluff to the stadium. An even more romantic image to ponder: fans with empty pockets typically watched video games from these stairs, which are named for John T. Brush, the owner of the Giants from 1890 until he died in 1912. (Edgecombe Avenue and West 158th Road)

Courtesy Whereas We Are Nonetheless Here


The residences of Edgecombe Avenue take pleasure in beautiful views of the Harlem River, and the mid-1910s house tower at 555 even enjoys shut proximity to the Morris-Jumel Mansion. (The constructing was even named for Roger Morris when it first opened).

However it’s the stellar line-up of African-People notables who lived right here beginning in the 1930s that provides the constructing its status — together with Joe Louis, Rely Basie and Paul Robeson. It is as a result of of Robeson, film star and civil rights icon, that the constructing can also be a National Historic Landmark. (555 Edgecombe Avenue)


Built in 1765, the Morris-Jumel Mansion is the oldest surviving house in New York, and was the house of British sympathizer Roger Morris, who correctly decided to bid New York adieu through the conflict.

However it’s the tales of Eliza Jumel that give its Colonial hallways a jolt of scandal. She married former vice chairman Aaron Burr, however his squandering of her property led to a fast divorce. When she died in 1865, she was considered one of probably the most notorious ladies in the town’s historical past. Some say her ghost still inhabits the home (now a captivating museum, properly value a visit). In case you see her, say howdy from us. (65 Jumel Terrace at West 160th Road)


This slightly surreal, Belgian block road presents a row of curious picket homes, lined up like Victorian-era dollhouses. They have been constructed in 1882 along the former carriage trail resulting in the Jumel Mansion. Their staircases rising high off the street like lifted petticoats but, regardless of their haughty airs, these jewels have been constructed for working class households. (St. Nicholas Avenue, between West 160th and 161st Streets)


Few buildings have gone via as a lot adaptation as this former 1912 Thomas Lamb-designed film palace, a colorful slice of terra-cotta birthday cake adorned with foxes — in honor of Lamb’s shopper William Fox. By the 1930s, its basement housed a synagogue while impassioned labor gatherings passed off upstairs.

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated here, a tragic chapter in a building with such decorative whimsy. At present you’ll find the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Instructional Middle in the foyer. (3940 Broadway)


Situated in the center of a set of medical buildings (most associated with NewYork-Presbyterian), this triangular wedge park is known as for one of our favourite mayors — John Purroy Mitchel aka ‘The Boy Mayor’.

After Mitchel left workplace, he entered the service to battle in World Conflict I but tragically died in coaching train in Louisiana on July 6, 1918. This park was named in his honor a month later.It might acquire an fascinating warfare memorial in 1923, sculpted by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Several years later, Whitney would found her own museum, comprised virtually totally of work she collected — the formation of the Whitney Museum. (3975 Broadway)

Past My Ken/Wikimedia


Manhattan once had over twenty armories, constructed to retailer army ammunition and typically home troops. This armory, named for the previous Revolutionary Conflict fort, was constructed in 1911 and turned house to a regiment of the Army Corp of Engineers.

As we speak it’s extra associated with one other type of endurance — monitor and subject. The Armory Monitor is one of crucial sites in America for the game, and the Nationwide Monitor and Subject Hall of Fame shares area here with dozens of yearly monitor occasions. (216 Fort Washington Avenue)

Sam Costanza for New York Day by day News


Coogan’s is the Cheers of Washington Heights, although they prefer, in accordance with their website, “the Washington Heights equivalent of Rick’s Place in Casablanca.” Since 1985, the flamboyantly adorned pub has welcomed visiting dignitaries and countless celebrities. In 2018, when Coogan’s announced they might be closing, regular patron Lin-Manuel Miranda swept in to help save the place! (4015 Broadway)

Courtesy Greg Younger


No monument to freshwater dominates fairly like the High Bridge, the Romanesque marvel linking Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River. For a lot of many years this majestic artifact, seemingly plucked from the hills of historic Gaul, was an important hyperlink in that great engineering triumph: the Croton Aqueduct.

Accomplished in 1848, it not only brought the Croton water into the town, nevertheless it additionally made one heck of a press release observed around the globe. In 1872, as plenty of new arrivals from far-off lands crammed into tenements, a horny water tower was constructed close to the Excessive Bridge to help improve the water strain into the town.

The water has long been turned off, however the bridge still beckons pedestrians onto its expanse over the Harlem. (Highbridge Park)


Simply up the street from the Audubon Ballroom sits one other Thomas Lamb film palace — the equally dazzling Loew’s 175th Road Theatre, one of New York Metropolis’s unique ‘Wonder Theatres’ that took film going to a new degree of luxury.

It took a decidedly Evangelical path in 1969 when the television preacher Reverend Ike reworked it into the Palace Cathedral. While it nonetheless retains spiritual ties, the venue is often opened to live shows and movie revivals — and steadily hosts tours of the location. (Take a look at the complete schedule right here.) (4140 Broadway)

By the best way, across the road is one of one of the best eating places in the neighborhood EL MALECÓN, serving some of New York’s greatest Dominican cuisine for over thirty years. (4141 Broadway)


Dwarfed by the may of the George Washington Bridge, tiny as a peg as you drive previous it into Manhattan, is the quiet pink Jeffrey’s Hook Mild far under. Manhattan’s only operational lighthouse when it was placed here in 1921, it was shortly made obsolete by the very brilliant new bridge that opened excessive above it in 1931— the brand new construction forged a lot of mild down to help guide vessels along the Hudson.

Fortuitously for the lighthouse, it turned the subject of a well-liked 1942 youngsters’s ebook, The Little Purple Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge by Hildegarde Swift. Demolishing it might have been like killing off Pinocchio, and so it remains to this present day. (178th Road and the Hudson River)

Bennett Park on a pleasant fall day last yr. Courtesy Greg Young


The very best level on Manhattan Island was, unsurprisingly, additionally the location of Fort Washington, a Revolutionary Struggle fort. Nothing remains of it; the spot, now surrounded by condo buildings, as an alternative holds Bennett Park as we speak, named for news paper publisher James Gordon Bennett, Sr. as a result of he happened to personal this land when he died in 1872.

A decorative cannon nonetheless adorning the park is a stern reminder of the day, November 16, 1776, when the fort fell into British arms. And close by, to commemorate the bicentennial of Washington’s delivery in 1732, grows an American elm, planted in 1932. (Fort Washington Avenue, West 183rd Road, Pinehurst Avenue)

Courtesy Mom Cabrini


The Cloisters isn’t the only place to discover a bit of spiritual reliquary in Upper Manhattan. In 1899 Mom Frances Cabrini, who based hospitals and orphanages all through america, purchased a distant piece of property on Fort Washington Avenue and based a high school right here. When she died in 1917, her remains have been stored in the highschool chapel.

However her canonization in 1946 required a bigger quarters for visitors and she was moved to this newly constructed shrine in 1959. You’ll be able to visit Cabrini to this present day; she’s contained in a glass coffin beneath the altar. (July 13, her birthday, can be a special time to visit.)

Fort Tryon Park final fall. Photograph by Greg Young


This fascinating public park not only hosts the famend Cloisters museum, nevertheless it’s additionally one of the lushest and most romantic spots in Manhattan, with dramatic outlooks over the Hudson River and sweeping views of the Palisades. Curiously, the identify refers to Sir William Tryon (1729–1788), one of the last governors of the Province of New York, who led British forces to burn and plunder civilian outposts all through New England in the course of the Revolutionary Conflict. He was a debonair monster. And yet the identify has, by tradition, stuck.

Wander the meandering paths and you’ll come across a number of different mementos of long-ago occasions, together with a bronze plaque to the memory of Margaret Corbin (1751–1800), thought-about the primary lady to see lively battle in the Revolutionary Struggle and the primary to obtain a army pension after the struggle. (190th Road and Fort Washington Avenue)

The Cloisters in a postcard picture, 1950. Courtesy the Museum of the Metropolis of New York.


The Cloisters is an offshoot of the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, specializes in medieval European treasures and is full of spectacular examples of Middle Ages paintings, reliquaries, tapestries, and tombs.

But almost as superb as its collection is the precise museum structure itself, its walls, corridors, and apses cobbled together from 5 European holy sites and cloisters.

Elements of the Cloisters are among the oldest buildings standing in the USA—though of course, they weren’t made right here. They have been introduced over, stone by stone, in an formidable scavenger hunt that would only have been the pet undertaking of one of the richest New Yorkers who ever lived: John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

For more info, take a look at the Bowery Boys podcast on the history of the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park.

(99 Margaret Corbin Drive)

The Hessian Hut on a sunny day at Dyckman Farmhouse. Pic courtesy Greg Younger


Not all of the surviving Colonial-era houses in New York are elegant mansions. The Dyckman Farmhouse, built in 1784, wouldn’t look out of place on the Midwestern prairie. Nevertheless, it could not be farther from an precise farm at present, as it is boxed in by house buildings and locked into place by the visitors of Broadway. Two further features set it aside from the city reality that surrounds it: 1) It has a yard, blooming with flowers, and 2) that backyard also has rugged Hessian barracks. The excavated hut—thrillingly rebuilt in 1916, when the home turned a museum—predates the home. (4881 Broadway)

An fascinating new exhibition by Peter Hoffmeister commemorating the Inwood Slave Burial Floor. Because the yr unfolds, Hoffmeister can be creating further works placed throughout the house, making a dialogue between his studio follow and research in our archives.

The previous Isham Mansion, pictured here in 1930 — before Robert Moses pulled it down! Courtesy Museum of the City of New York


This extraordinarily peaceable spot additionally has deep Revolutionary roots nevertheless it additionally has a singular connection to another facet of Inwood historical past. Until the early 20th century, mansions of elite New Yorkers dotted this rugged landscape, and it was on this actual spot that banker William Bradley Isham built a summer time residence. Consider it or not, the house and many surrounding buildings have been truly an element of the park when it opened in the 1910s. Parks commissioner Robert Moses had these buildings ripped down in the 1940s. (Isham Road and Seaman Avenue)


This majestic park is sort of probably New York City’s most under-appreciated treasure, a collection of breathtaking postcards come to life, where earth, foliage, and water return Manhattan to “Mannahatta.” Made a park in 1916, its woods are naturally wild and rugged, as if no European had ever crossed this forested panorama. Who knows what historic secrets and techniques lurk alongside the banks of the Spuyten Duyvil?

Almost 400 years in the past, in 1626, next to a tulip tree here, Peter Minuit, the director-general of New Amsterdam, reportedly bought the island from the Lenape for a grand complete of 60 guilders. At the moment you’ll find the situation of the previous tulip tree near a boulder named Shorakkopoch Rock. (Payson Avenue and Seaman Avenue)

You should use the map under that will help you out in your journey or click on this link.

For years, we’ve been huge fans of the MyInwood blog, a stunning tribute to the history of Inwood. You may as well visit Indian Street Cafe as soon as a month for a LOST INWOOD presentation of historic photographs.

Some portions of the descriptions above have been taken from our ebook The Bowery Boys’ Adventures In Previous New York. Go decide up a replica right now!

A couple good companion exhibits from our back catalog — the history of the George Washington Bridge and the Cloisters


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