New York City - Riverside Drive And Upper West Side
( Originally Published 1940 )
Our trip around Central Park left us in Columbus Circle, and here is a convenient place to begin another interesting excursion. Take a northbound No. 19 Fifth Avenue bus at Columbus Circle (or anywhere else along its route) and ask for a transfer when you pay your fare.
The bus will take you along Broadway through part of "Automobile Row" to 72nd Street, where it will turn left toward the river. Just before you turn north onto Riverside Drive you will pass an entrance to the West Side Highway, which has done so much to relieve traffic congestion in the city.
As far north as 157th Street you will have RIVERSIDE PARK between you and the river. Although it is not a new park, in its present shape it is a monument to the genius of Park Commissioner Robert Moses. Once the view was ruined by the New York Central freight tracks; now the tracks have been covered; the area has been newly landscaped; every possible convenience for recreation has been installed; and Riverside Park is one of the most delightful spots in New York.
At 73rd Street is the great mansion of the steel magnate, Charles M. Schwab. Carefully built in French-chateau style, according to the taste of another day, it looks somewhat odd to us now against its typically American background of apartment houses.
You will pass the SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT at 89th Street, the STATUE OF JOAN OF ARC at 93rd Street, and the FIRE-MEN'S MEMORIAL at 100th Street. There are other statues in Riverside Park, but these are the principal ones.
At 122nd Street and Riverside Drive is the great RIVERSIDE CHURCH, of the Baptist denomination, sometimes called the "Rockefeller Church," or more often the "Fosdick Church." The rather heavy tower rises to a height of 392 feet, and houses a famous carillon of 72 bells, said to be the largest in the world. The tower, the carillon, and the observation platform are open from I to 5 P.M. daily except Sundays. On Sundays they are open from 12.30 to 2.30 P.M. On Saturday mornings there is free admission between 9 A.M. and noon. At other times there is an admission fee of 25 cents. The nave of the church is open daily from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
Near the church is the quadrangle of the UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY. It is an interdenominational school, and is now allied with Columbia University.
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, occupying 28 acres centering at 116th Street and Broadway, is one of the greatest educational institutions in the world, with 3,500 instructors and 32,000 resident students. You should see the great LIBRARY, the architectural center of the group, which is just north of 116th Street, and the South Quadrangle, just south of the same street. BARNARD COLLEGE for women is on Broadway across the street from the main group of buildings.
Returning to Riverside Drive and 122nd Street, let us enter GRANT'S TOMB. This great monument, standing alone in an expanse of lawn on a bluff giving a magnificent VIEW Up the Hudson, is one of the most beautiful structures in New York. It is simple, impressive, and dignified. The interior is reminiscent of Napoleon's tomb under the dome of the Invalides in Paris, but is none the less effective. The tomb was under construction for five years, and was dedicated in 1897.
Just behind the tomb is a GINKO TREE, planted in memory of General Grant by the great Chinese ambassador Li Hung Chang, and still behind that is CLAREMONT RESTAURANT. This is one of the historic spots of New York. The battle of Harlem was fought on the near-by heights; it was once the residence of Joseph Bonaparte; and from its verandas the notables of the day watched .the trials of Fulton's steamer the "Clermont."
The near-by GRAVE OF AN AMIABLE CHILD 1S one of the most touching things in the city. Almost across the southbound roadway of Riverside Drive, on a bluff overlooking the river, and surrounded by an iron fence, is a little stone urn. On the base of the simple monument are the words "Erected to the memory of an amiable child St. Claire Pollock Died 15 July 1797 in the fifth year of his age." That part of Manhattan was country land and farmland nearly 150 years ago, but today, with autos rushing past, a railroad at the foot of the hill, and busy steamers drawing white wakes along the water (none of which he had ever seen), it is hard for us to imagine this little boy playing happily, and perhaps a bit gravely as befitted an amiable child of his years, under the trees that must have shaded the hill.
A viaduct carries Riverside Drive 75 feet above the busy valley which interrupts the park at 125th Street, but soon the parkway begins again, to continue almost without further interruption to the north end of Manhattan.
At 157th Street your bus will leave the drive for Broadway. Turning north on that street you soon reach the MEDICAL CENTER at Broadway and 168th Street.
This enormous institution, providing 1674 beds, covers 22 acres, and in addition to numerous hospitals and clinics, it includes the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Its cost was about $25,000,000.
The Medical Center is the end of the line for the No. 19 buses, and here you can use your transfer on a No. 4 bus, still going north. Be sure that it is marked "The Cloisters." In short order this will bring you to the entrance of the GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE and here, if time permits, you should walk out at least to the center of the span for the splendid views up and down the Hudson.
Near 182nd Street are the remains of FORT WASHINGTON, and this whole district is known as WASHINGTON HEIGHTS. It was the loss of this fort, after a bitter struggle, that forced General Washington into the melancholy decision to abandon Manhattan island to the British.
Your bus ride will end after you pass through FORT TRYON PARK to the Cloisters (see page 79). You should certainly take a walk through the gardens of Fort Tryon Park. It is one of the most perfect in the entire city, and from its bluffs you get splendid views of the Hudson, and of the PALISADES, those great cliffs stretching above the river for miles along the Jersey Shore.
Before starting the return trip, I would like to mention some other notable sights in this neighborhood, although they are more easily reached by I.R.T. West Side Subway express to Van Cortlandt Park.
VAN CORTLANDT PARK is on the mainland in the borough of the Bronx, but as we are near it at this point in Manhattan, I am mentioning it here. In the Park you should see the COLONIAL GARDEN, the SHAKESPEARE GARDEN, where every flower mentioned by him is to be found, and the VAN CORTLANDT MANSION, all conveniently grouped at the southern end of the Park near the subway station. The present mansion was erected in 1748 and is in an excellent state of preservation. It is open daily from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. except Sundays, when the hours are 2 to 5 P.M. Admission is free except on Thursdays, when there is a charge of 25 cents.
When you pay your fare on the No. 4 bus at the Cloisters for your return, ask for a transfer again, and when you are once more at the Medical Center, transfer to either a No. 2 or a No. 3 bus. The No. 2 bus takes you past the Jumel Mansion, the Polo Grounds, and through the very heart of Harlem. The No. 3 bus passes the College of the City of New York and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Both routes are so interesting that my best advice to you is to find the time to do both.
The JUMEL MANSION IS generally considered to be the most interesting of the remaining vestiges of New York's colonial days. It was built in 1766, or thereabouts, by a Major Morris of the British Army, who returned to England when the colonies declared their independence. The house was General Washington's headquarters in the early fall of 1776, and be-came British headquarters after the evacuation of New York by the Continental Army. Still later in the war it was the headquarters after the evacuation of New York by the Continental Army. Still later in the war it was the headquarters of the Hessians, and after the war was over the building was confiscated by the new government. In 1790 General Washington dined in the mansion with many distinguished guests, but it then began to fall into disrepair.
Fortunately it was purchased in 1810 by a wealthy French resident of New York, Stephen Jumel. (After his death in, 1832 his widow married Aaron Burr.) Finally, in 1903, the property was acquired by the City of New York, and has since been maintained as a museum of Revolutionary relics. The location is at West 160th Street and Jumel Terrace. The mansion is open free daily except Mondays from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. (In the winter closing time is at 4.30 P.M.)
Although the home field of the Giants is called the POLO GROUNDS, I doubt if polo has been played there for fifty years. It is a huge stadium, but there is no reason for stopping there unless you are going to a game.
If you elect to take the No. 3 bus, you will pass the HAMILTON, GRANGE REFORMED CHURCH, so called because the original building was on Hamilton Grange, the farm of Alexander Hamilton. It is famous for the two splendid windows by John La Farge, not to be missed by lovers of stained glass. The church is at the corner of 149th Street and Convent Avenue. HAMILTON GRANGE itself, now maintained as a museum of relics of his times, is on Convent Avenue between 141st and 142nd Streets. It is open weekdays except Saturdays and holidays from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. On Saturdays it is open from 10 A.M. to 1. P.M. Sundays and holidays the museum is closed. Admission is free.
Although the COLLEGE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK has branches in various parts of town, the main group of buildings, in collegiate Gothic style, occupies the tract between St. Nicholas Terrace and Amsterdam Avenue, and 136th and 140th Streets. The college is free to residents of New York City, has a teaching staff of over 1,000, and a student enrollment of over 23,000. Notwithstanding its genius for making the front pages on account of some sort of faculty or student disturbance, it is a very good school, promoting independent and original thought—as the various fusses prove! Here is the LEWISOHN STADIUM, where during the summer months the New York Philharmonic Orchestra gives concerts under the stars.
The CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE is located between 110th Street (here called Cathedral Parkway), 113th Street, Amsterdam Avenue, and Morningside Drive. The hill on which the Cathedral stands is known as Morningside Heights. The Cathedral faces on Amsterdam Avenue.
The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1892, and now almost fifty years later it is still incomplete. When it is finished it will be exceeded in size only by St. Peter's in Rome. The length of the building is 601 feet, the width across the transepts of the cruciform church 320 feet, and the great central tower is to be 455 feet high.
Even in its uncompleted state the Cathedral is of great magnificence. In the nave is a model showing the building as it will look when completed.
Originally intended to be a Romanesque church, the style was changed to French Gothic after the building was begun. You should see the stained glass, the chapels, the great monoliths of the sanctuary, and the Barberini tapestries. Services are now held in the Cathedral and the music is magnificent.