My continuing quest to see everything in New York City

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Three State Walk - September 25th

Haven't you always wanted to walk in three states in one day? September 25th, in conjunction with the good folks from "Hey, I'm Walkin' Here" I'll be leading a walk that does just that.

Starting at 177th and Ft. Washington (A train to Ft. Washington - exit near the front of the train), at 8:30 sharp,we'll walk over the GW Bridge to Ft. Lee, NJ, head back across and over to the Bronx, walk through the North Bronx to the historic Boston Post Road, and then follow the Boston Post Road all the way through Westchester to Connecticut. We'll have dinner, and then head back to NYC on Metro North, which will cost you $7.50.

The total distance is 24 miles, and you can see the route here - it should take about 10 hours.

I know the starting time is brutal, but I want to finish before dark. Amazingly, the A train has no major service changes this weekend, however the #1 train is suspended so if you were planning on taking that, switch your plans to the A.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kew Gardens

Most walks through the boroughs of New York are fairly boring, but also fairly pleasant. This best describes yesterday's quick stroll through north Richmond Hill and Kew Gardens, an upper-middle class Queens neighborhood marked by tree lined streets, older single family homes, a synagogue or two, and chirping crickets at twilight - which seemed a bit out of place a block away from the elevated train. A quaint little commercial area on Lefferts Avenue, and the worst (non-$1.00) pizza I've ever had on Jamaica Blvd were the only two real encounters of note. One thing that should have tipped me off about the pizza place was that instead of having the cheese in the regular glass jar, they just stuck out a green plastic container of Kraft Parmesan.

Now, I'm sure if I were looking or had researched the area a bit beforehand I would have found a quirky thing or two, but that kind of defeats my goal of getting an overall general knowledge of the entire city. Calm and static areas are as much a part of New York as Bleecker Street on a Friday night. Heading out to an otherwise nondescript area for the sole purpose of seeing the one interesting thing there isn't a bad thing, but it's another project for another day.

For people visiting the area, try to get off of Queens Boulevard, which is like hiking through the Grand Canyon and thinking you've seen Arizona.

Neighborhoods: Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill
Tracts Walked: Q128, Q130, Q132, Q135, Q136, Q140, Q142.01, Q773, Q775

Monday, September 13, 2010

Highland Park

A recent walk through East Brooklyn saw me pass the 2/3 mark of Census Tracts walked. The specific one that took me over the mark was Brookyn Tract 1142.01 - which along with its sister (Tract 1142.02) make up a lovely hillside area nestled up in an out-of-the-way corner of the Borough between Jamaica Avenue, Highland Park, and the Jackie Robinson Expressway. Hillside neighborhoods are in short supply in Brooklyn, but while the almost San Francisco-like steepness initially piqued my interest it also turned out to be a great walk in general, full of old homes of various architectural styles, unexpected views, and of course kids taking advantage of the inclined streets on various wheeled devices. Much of East New York, and East Brooklyn in general, tends to get painted with the same brush in the media. People who can name a dozen distinct neighborhoods and their characteristics in West Brooklyn don't know any two blocks are different from Utica Avenue to the City Line. This area - along with many others - serves as a reminder that East Brooklyn contains the same diversity of architecture, geography, and community as the other parts of the borough.

With most areas, I'm content to walk through them, take in the area, and check the tracts off the map. When it comes to revisiting - well, I'll see them if I see them. I've always had the goal of having a broad knowledge of the city, not a deep knowledge - I'm happier to know 10 neighborhoods a little bit rather than one neighborhood well. While there's certainly many neighborhoods that I do know well, it's generally more by circumstance than design.

Once in a while though, a tract or two will capture my imagination, and I'll put it on my list to revisit. I'll definitely be returning to that neighborhood up the hill.

For an in-depth look at Highland Park, see Brian Berger's guest page on the neighborhood at Forgotten-NY

Neighborhoods: Highland Park, Cypress Hills, East New York
Tracts Walked: B1142.01, B1142.02