Manhattan's Avenues: Broadway
New York Travel Blog› entry 851 of 1090 › view all entries
Alternative names: None
Traffic direction: Bi-directional
Length: 16.3 mile / 26.2 km
North-boundary: Caryl Ave (Yonkers)
South-boundary: Battery Place / Stone Street
Number of cross streets: too many to count!
Avenue number towards 89th St.: 15
Specifics: Longest and oldest "avenue", Van Cortlandt Park, Dyckman House, Washington Bridge, United Palace Theatre, Trinity Cemetery, 125th street subway trestle, Riverside Church, Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, Times Square, Madison Square Park, Flatiron Building, Union Square, City Hall, Woolworth Building, WTC, Zuccoti Park, the Charging Bull, old US Customs House
The past 3 years I have been hiking all avenues of Manhattan that intersect, or could intersect with "my" 89th Street.
Broadway is an exception by itself. First of all, it is "just" a "way" and not an "avenue". Secondly, unlike the other avenues Broadway is winding its way over the island of Manhattan. In the north, near 220th Street it intersects with Ninth Avenue, then it moves all the way west, almost touching Riverside Drive at 147th Street. From W169th to W108th Streets Broadway is actually an extension of Eleventh Avenue/West End.
Unlike with the other avenues, I decided to completely hike this "avenue", but only within the New York City boundaries. That meant; starting at the border of The Bronx and city of Yonkers NY. From that point Broadway still continues north for 24 kilometers (15 miles) until the village of Sleepy Hollow.
Broadway is probably the oldest street in Manhattan. It was "built" as the Wickquasgeck Trail by the Indians as a North-South cross-Manhattan trail, long before the Europeans arrived. When the Dutch arrived they started using the trail for their settlement New Amsterdam, they also made the first description of the trail in 1642. The Dutch called the improved southern leg of the trail later "Heerestraat". It was probably also called Broadway because compared to its branching streets it was indeed a broad way.
It took several years, until the English took over the island, to construct the road further northward. At that time it was called Bloomingdale Road.
The grand finale of my Avenue Hikes was today. I had been waiting for a day with nice weather. Given the fact that it is more than a 26.2-km (16.3-mile) hike I needed a summer day. To my surprise it only took me one subway and one bus ride to get to the northern start point of Broadway. For some reason I had thought there would only be one bus per hour. Stupid of course, since the start point is just in the middle of a busy agglomeration. Apart from the street name signs, the bus stops and the "Welcome to Yonkers" sign, one would not be able to tell apart the New York City and the Yonkers sections.
The first stretch took me along the nice Van Cortlandt Park. At some point, if I looked to my left, it looked more like hiking in a forest than in a large city.
A bit after 230th Street I entered the borough of Manhattan. Only few know that the borough of Manhattan begins a few blocks NORTH of the island of Manhattan. In the past the Harlem River flowed differently. The northern tip of the island Manhattan got split off the rest of the island and is now an enclave in The Bronx.
At 225th Street I finally left the mainland via the 50-year old Broadway Bridge over the Harlem River. I think this is the only major Bridge in the City that connects Manhattan to Manhattan!
At 204th Street I passed by the old Dutch Dyckman Farm House.
Between 155th and 153rd Streets Broadway traverses Trinity Cemetery. A huge cemetery related to the Cemetery of Trinity Church many blocks to the south on Broadway.
At 135th Street the 1 train, that had left Broadway at 218th Street, and later joined it underground, emerges back to the surface for the 125th Street trestle, where it is elevated until 122nd street, because of the deep gap of 125th Street.
In the 70s Broadway is getting the élan where it is famous for. Paris like buildings! At 72nd we intersect Tenth Avenue/Amsterdam Avenue again, now heading east. At 65th, at the Lincoln Center, we also intersect Ninth Avenue/Columbus Avenue once more. Eight Avenue/Central Park West makes it first appearance in the grand final at Columbus Circle, tourist-crowded as always. From 47th to 42nd Street Broadway is a pedestrian's paradise. Since a few years cars are banned here. Unfortunately there were so many tourists that this was the part that took me really long to cross. This is of course the famous Times Square area. The tourist trap of the city, where Seventh Avenue appears in our finale.
In the 30s was a nice temporary exposition of nice plants and artistic cubes of grass.
The last intersection with an avenue occurs at 14th Street and Union Square where the southern tip of Park Avenue is touched. In this area Broadway is not that broad anymore. The nice buildings of SoHo close it in.
At City Hall Park a few Icons meet Broadway, like City Hall, and one of the oldest skyscrapers of the city, the 241-meter (792-ft) high Woolworth Building.
Liberty Street is the place where a very recent icon along Broadway presents itself, Zucotti Park. Until last year the center of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Some die hard protesters are now residing along Broadway.
Then, finally, after seven hours of hiking, the famous Charging Bull of Arthuro DiModica shows up. There were so many tourists that I could hardly see it. This is where Broadway splits to finish at both side of the majestic (former) US Customs House.
Although this is the formal end of Broadway, I decided to continue on Whitehall Street for a few hundred meters more, where it ends at Manhattan's most southern tip, the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
Now I'll have to decide what to do next? Hike the remaining stretches of the other avenues into the Bronx? Hike the Avenues of Queens and Brooklyn? Hike all the Streets of Manhattan? We'll see!
More pictures below!