The southern most portion of Washington Heights, roughly 155th-175th Street is full of hidden treasures and historic sites. The spectacular United Palace Theater, built in 1930 for the movies, for the first time is hosting the Tony Awards for Broadway Theater on June 11th. Featuring both exterior and interior architecture that is almost impossible to describe, this 3,400-seat venue is stunning.
The name Washington Heights points to both history and topography. General George Washington in the fall of 1776, after narrowly evading capture by the British, took over an abandoned mansion high atop a bluff. Built in 1765 ,the Morris Jumel Mansion is a public museum and a small park with gardens. Jazz on the mansion held over an August weekend, is a popular outdoor annual event. The adjacent historic district includes an array of elegant townhouses and a large community garden.
Sylvan Terrace, lined with late 19th century quaint wood-frame houses, is one of those unique streets that causes you to question where you are! It was originally the carriageway for the mansion. Nearby, Highbridge Park features unusual geology, abundant nature, NYC's first mountain bike trail along with the city's oldest bridge. The 1848 Highbridge was part of the Croton Aqueduct, our first major water supply system which brough fresh water from northern Westchester County to New York City, using a system of Roman-inspired aqueducts and gravity.
Columbia University has presence in the neighborhood as their medical school is part of the world renown New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. A little know fact is that the New York Yankees started out on the site of the hospital. Hilltop Park from 1903-1912 featured a team called the NY Highlanders which later became the Yankees.
Did you know that there is a Track and Field Hall of Fame? It's right here in Washington Heights at 168th Street and Fort Washington Avenue. Known as the non-profit Armory Foundation Located within a huge armory, it is America's premiere indoor traack & field center hosting over 100 track meets annually, and provides a variety of afterschool recreation and fitness programs for youth.
There are architectural treasures too: A church designed by Thomas Hastings (co-designer of the main branch of the NY Public Library and the Henry Clay Frick mansion on 5th Avenue); a magnificent World War I memorial sculpted by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of teh Whitney Museum. Wait, there's more! The facade of the former William Fox Theatre at Broadway and 165th Street is a gem, although on a sadder note inside is the famed Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965.
In the southernmost part of the neighborhood you will find Manhattan's only active cemetery, affiliated with Trinity Episcopal Church on Wall Street. Established in the 1870s, it is the final resting place of artist John James Audubon, John Jacob Astor, Ralph Ellison and Mayor Ed Koch. You will find the main entrance on 155th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. To the west along a meandering stretch of Riverside Drive is the Audubon Park Historic District
Reopening this Spring is perhaps the crown jewel of all, the Hispanic Museum and Library, which is one of several monumental Beaux Arts buildings that form the Audubon Terrace Historic District. Known for its research collections and having the largest collection of art and artifacts from Spain outside of that country, it also features an expansive courtyard filled with sculptures including the dramatic El Cid by Anna Hyatt Huntington. The prestigious American Academy of Arts & Letters host several public art exhibitions each year.
Throughout the area, you will encounter many murals of birds on buildings in honor of John James Audubon, who had an estate nearby. This unique collaborative project between the National Audubon Society and local artists who have been commissioned to paint over 300 species of birds whose existence is threatened by climate change.
Are there places to eat and enjoy nightlife? Several large gastropubs line Broadway: The Hilltop Ale House and the Fort Washington Public House. A variety of eateries and cafes include the Salento Columbian Coffee and Kitchen, Native Noodles, Carrot Top Pastries, Suross Thai Bistro, Panacea Bread Home Bakery, Manolo Tapas and Havana Heights.