I love walking, whether in the countryside, by the shore or even in the city. I’ve always made a point of walking instead of taking the subway whenever feasible on trips into Manhattan and I thought I’d come to know some parts of the city quite well. A couple of years ago I joined an organization called Shorewalkers which organizes walks in New York City, Down State New York and North New Jersey. What an eye-opener that has turned out to be.
I’ve lived in New York for over sixteen years. When we first arrived most of the city alongside the Hudson and Harlem rivers consisted of derelict piers and abandoned buildings, sites such as Chelsea Piers and South Street Seaport providing the only riverside attractions apart from the remaining ferry and boat terminals. Now there are pedestrian walkways and cycle paths almost all the way round the city.
|Heading north along the Hudson River|
|View from Battery Park to New Jersey|
Other walks have introduced me to Wall Street and the Financial District, Greenwich Village, the DUMBO area of Brooklyn, the riverside in Queens, and Inwood Hill Park and Fort Tyron way up in the northern tip of Manhattan.
|The Cloisters - Fort Tyron Park|
|The Municipal Building|
Every walk has me wondering why I’ve never made the effort to get to that area before and made me determined to see more. Walking for the sake of it rather than as purely a means of getting from A to B gives you the time to see what you would normally miss—whether it’s the grandeur of older buildings complete with their ornate moldings, beautiful churches and other public buildings, places of historical interest or just the interesting little street with appealing restaurants and quirky stores.
|Not your average entrance!|
|Old Customs House - Bowling Green|
|Stone Street Historical District|
I’ve enjoyed every walk so much that I’m determined to get to know New York City even more. So I’ve set myself a challenge. I want to walk every street in Manhattan. To that end, I’ve made up a large map of the island which I’ve taped to the back of a closet door. Each time I go into the city and walk a different route, I mark it on the map. I’m not setting a time frame because there are just so many streets and I want to enjoy the process, not turn it into something I feel I have to rush to complete to meet a deadline.
I’ve made a slow but good start having walked most of the riverside walks and also around Central Park, but now with the arrival of Spring, I’m hoping to discover some more gems in the city. And because I’ve set myself this challenge, when I go into the city to do errands, I’m more likely to look for an alternative route to my destination rather than following the same old path.
It’s all too easy when you live in a place for a long time to take the sights and amenities for granted so that you end up knowing more about places you’ve traveled to than the one you call home. You don’t need to travel great distances to explore, you just need to get out there!
How well do you think you know your hometown?