Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Great Walk

I am not entirely sure when the inspiration hit. It could have been while at work, or over dinner, or as I was drifting off to sleep. And since I don't know the true origin of my grand idea, and for the purposes of adding a little drama and flare to the story, I will say it happend while I was up in the air.  30,000 feet and descending, as I headed back to New York from Chicago on January 3rd (our one year wedding anniversary).  It was a clear night and I always find myself rather contemplative while in airplanes (does this happen to anyone else?), and as I looked out the window I could see the entire island of Manhattan illuminated. I found it amusing how you could see the pool of lights surrounded by the flat, black, glass like  river and it formed the shape that was identical to that of the subway map. As if I thought in real life it should look different and completely unlike some cartographers hard worked sketch.  Regardless, I was drawn in to this island, which from the air appears so small. Like you could skip rocks across it, or do a few cartwheels and you would end up on the other side.  I wanted to walk it. From tip to tip, and Jürgen was going to come with me.

Jürgen being the cool cat that he is was totally down with my crazy adventure idea, and we decided as soon as the weather turned pleasant we would set things in motion to traverse the island. It had seemed like a lofty idea until last Thursday when I was awoken to the dulcit tones of Jürgen saying "today is the day."  I hadn't mentally prepared myself for the journey, but I decided it was best not to fight a man decided.  It was a beautiful day, and frankly I needed a bit of adventure and challenge in my life. So we hopped the train and found ourselves all the way at 225th street. The journey began.

I am waxed poetic about my newfound love of walking recently, but this was the ultimate in walks as far as  I was concerned.  According to googlemaps the distance from 225th to Battery Gardens is 13.6 miles (give or take a bit depending on your preferred route), however we did a bit of sightseeing and zigzagging along the way, so while neither of us donned pedometers we think we logged almost fifteen miles of foot traffic.  There are many different paths you could take to complete this journey, but we tended more towards the west side of the island following Broadway and then spending a decent amount of time on 6th ave (which if we ever decided to do this again we would avoid), until we reached Battery Gardens with a view of Lady Liberty in all her glory.  It took about seven hours to complete, and I felt the effects of this half-marathon distance walk for days.

It was an awesome experience, and one that I will truly never forget.  It's amazing to see how the landscape changes, culturally and physically, as you travel through the various neighborhoods. At one point I even proclaimed "it's amazing how 'un-New York', New York feels!" and it was really true, there  were times I almost forgot I was in Manhattan.  This really is an incredible city and I am glad we took the time to really travel through it, with the sun on our faces and the wind at our backs.

We took quite a few pictures along the way, and since I recently learned how to make photo slideshows, I have another one! But first here is a list of the few sites we visited, some planned, and some happy accidents.

The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
The Cloisters
The Morris Jumel Mansion Museum
Alexander Hamilton's Country Home
General Grant National Memorial
Riverside Church
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The Cross at Ground Zero

(I am sure there are many more sites we could have seen, however once we hit Columbus Circle, it was less about the journey and more about the least thats what my feet were telling me!)


  1. I love it, Blair. You are truly having an adventure whil you are in NYC. Look at all the new interests you are cultivating - walking, photography, cooking. We miss you, but I am so glad you are 'seizing the day'

  2. Awesome post! Love it all.

  3. Holy moly! That is an impressive walk--the husband has suggested walking from our apartment to Times Square and/or Battery Park, but not the entire length of the island!

    I have to say that it was really cool to see pictures from my neighborhood--Morningside Heights represent!--especially the fantastic cathedral of St. John the Divine--as well as the shot of the trestle bridge that carries the 1 over the big ridge in the Earth's crust in that part of Harlem.

    Love it all!

  4. What a great experience. I love that you had the inspiration and then actually made it happen.

    I had one of those grand ideas when flying into Heathrow last summer on an unexpected detour on the way home from Spain--Consequently, this summer I'm going on a walking trip through the English countryside with a girlfriend!

  5. What a fantastic walk and the pictures are marvelous, too! Dan and I have always liked hiking, but getting a dog really expanded our love of local town walking as well. You see great things when you're on your feet!