Walking Manhattan’s Rim

A guide and savoring of New York Island’s magnificent shore with pictures and insights on how it has changed during the past 50 years. How the park-lined waterfront looks today. Markets for this guide include tourists, walkers, Manhattanites, Hudsonophiles and river lovers. $13.95







FOREWORD

You have to be in training to complete the Great Saunter in one day. It’s 32 miles. These days usually about 40 young, middle-aged and old do it. And another several hundred join them (the Shorewalkers) for part of the way. So sometimes there’s over 200 saunterers. Over five or six separate years, by joining the Great Saunter, I’ve now hiked all around Manhattan, and learned things I never knew, such as the fact that parts of Inwood Park, at the northern tip of Manhattan, have never been logged off. Never. Trees lie where they fall.

And the East River Park (14th down to Grand Street) is bigger than it used to be because in the 1940s, food was taken to England and, after the war, to Germany. The ships needed ballast when returning, so they put bombed-out buildings in the ships. In NYC they had to get rid of the ballast. Where? Enlarge the East River Park by dumping the ballast in the East River.

Every city needs a Shorewalkers’ club!

Pete Seeger

INTRODUCTION

As a small child, I spent countless hours playing among the fragrant crabapple trees in Riverside Park, and later watched my own sons enjoy the wonders of the 97th Street playground; both experiences remind me how vital parks are to the health of this city. Without trees and grass and playgrounds woven throughout this great metropolis, New Yorkers would confront a dismal and almost unlivable city. In Walking Manhattan’s Rim, The Great Saunter, Cy Adler brings Manhattan’s perimeter to life and encourages us all to step back and take a stroll through our city’s most precious natural resource- its parks.

“The Great Saunter” serves as a personal guide through 20 waterfront parks along the Hudson, Harlem and East Rivers. Manhattan’s waterfront has played a vital role in New York City’s maritime trade and industrial development, serving as a crucial link with Europe and the West Indies. Eventually the shoreline’s active shipbuilding industry gave way to glass factories, power stations and railroads. Under the leadership of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City has renewed its commitment to reclaim and preserve the beauty of its waterfront. New Yorkers have better access than ever before to bicycle paths and foot trails along the city’s perimeter. The development of a greenway around the island continues, with key sections in East Harlem and the West Village just completed.

Cy Adler’s 32-mile saunter connects Manhattan’s diverse landscapes and neighborhoods, giving travelers a unique perspective of the city’s shoreline. Riverside, Battery, Fort Washington, Inwood Hill, Highbridge, Carl Schurz and East River Parks are among the gems not to be missed as you walk along the island’s rim.

Battery Park, with its rich history as a gateway to the land of freedom, offers spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty. In the middle of the 19th century the Castle Garden Center, located at the tip of Battery Park, processed approximately eight million immigrants entering the United States to seek a better life. Now the Battery Park Conservancy is helping make this park worthy of its millions of visitors.

Each year, hundreds of New Yorkers come to Fort Washington Park to celebrate the Little Red Lighthouse Festival. This year, after over 50 years of darkness, the light in the Little Red Lighthouse was re-illuminated. Hildegarde
H. Swift children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge has kept this scenic spot burning brightly in the imaginations of boys and girls throughout the country. In addition to climbing the steps of “Little Red,” New Yorkers of all ages can take advantage of the park’s baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, and playgrounds while benches are available for all to relax and to take in views of the Hudson River.

Inwood Hill Park, with its natural salt marsh and woodland areas, is home to two special nests or hack boxes designed to reintroduce bald eagles into New York City. If you look closely, you may see an eaglet soaring over the thick tress. The first three eagles successfully fledged in the summer of 2002 have left for other areas, but more fledglings will be introduced each summer through 2005.

Highbridge Park is named after New York City’s oldest bridge, the High Bridge. This bridge was constructed in 1848 to carry the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River. Built in the 1830s, the Old Croton Aqueduct was the City’s first public water supply and is a National Historic Landmark.

Carl Schurz Park, another notable green space along the route, is home to the famous Gracie Mansion, a country home built in 1799 and residence to nine mayors from LaGuardia to Giuliani. And, finally at East River Park, weary
travelers can pace their stride to the latest tune at the renovated bandshell or find a second wind to score a goal on the park’s new artificial turf soccer field.

Now as I pass under the trees in Riverside Park during my morning run, and as my sons drift away from the swings of childhood to compete in cross-country and soccer, I feel even more grateful to have one of the most breathtaking spots along “The Great Saunter” as my backyard. See you in the park.

Adrian Benepe

REVIEWS for WALKING MANHATTAN’S RIM, the first book of its kind!

“Exploring our great City at 3 M.P.H. is just the right speed for me!”
—Mayor Mike Bloomberg

“Each chapter devoted to a section of the route, is mapped and includes a great deal of detail on the cultural and historical aspects of the area….indispensable to anyone who appreciates the pleasures of walking in this great city.”
—Anthony E. Simpson, CUNY librarian

“…an extraordinary tour de force…the consummate guide for walking Manhattan’s shore of, learning the history, biology & politics of the world’s most amazing island….should get us all down to the water’s edge immediately.”
—Ruth Messinger, Manhattan Boro Pres. in 1990s

“…provides a wealth of Gotham history and information.”
—NYC Environmental Bulletin, May/June 2003

“His book is…thought-provoking, some-times infuriating, and always interesting. When it comes to walking on the waterfront Cy is king of the road.”
—Dave Lutz, Urban Outdoors

“This treasure is what you get when you combine the intrepid tramping spirit of Colin Fletcher, the passionate social conscience of Ralph Nader, and the meticulous factual documentation of Karl Baedeker….an invaluable resource for energetic visitors and tourists to NYC eager to master its secrets.”
—Malcolm Spector, Trail Walker July/Aug ‘03, NY-NJ Trail Conference

“Cy A Adler knows his subject cold…has a wise perspective on NY’s waterfront…. should be required reading for politicians and planners.”
—Phillip Lopate, writer

“…a shore walker’s guide to NY’s complex history…one of the most informative books on Manhattan….masterpiece of information.”
—C. Virginia Fields, Manhattan Borough President

“…my body begs to go on a saunter….As a NYC educator, I, especially, would recommend this book to teachers who work in the schools and neighborhoods addressed in this guide to use as enrichment lessons in the history and ecology of our great city.”
—Charlotte Adomaitis, UFT Teacher Center