BY Alan Cohen
“Upstate” Manhattan has a decided residential feel, and it also contains many gems for any lover of things New York. You have to come here to really know our beloved city. If you’d like to visit the oldest house in Manhattan, see the best views in any park in the City, enjoy great food and drinks, all for one subway fare, then you must visit the Heights.
Washington Heights is generally held to run from 155th Street on the south to Dyckman Street on the north and from the East River to the Hudson. The neighborhood includes Hudson Heights (north of 181st Street and west of Broadway) and Fort George (north of 181st Street and east of Broadway). Historically, the high rocky ridge that dominates the western part of northern Manhattan played a role in the American Revolution (the site of Fort Washington) as well as becoming a desired location for Gilded Age estates with magnificent Hudson River views.
With the development first of rapid mass transit at the start of the 20th century (IRT line, now the 1) and then the addition of the IND (A and C lines) in the early 1930s the area expanded quickly. With an easy commute to jobs downtown and an abundant stock of low-rise, predominantly art deco apartment buildings, living in the Heights became a residential step up from tenement housing in lower Manhattan.
While numerous ethnic groups had lived side by side in the Heights, some populations, like the Greeks, have largely relocated, while others, like Jews and Irish, have remained. By the 1960s, Dominicans became the predominant ethnic group, bringing a different flavor to the shopping and restaurants as well as the sounds of Spanish language and music to the streets. While Dominicans are still the dominant group in the Heights, immigrants from other Latin American countries have added to the diversity.