It’s actually been a year and a little over a month since we moved up here to Hamilton Heights from Brooklyn. I have to say it’s been quite a year for the both of us as far as growth, learning and new experiences in life.
I was just looking at pictures of our old apartment as I went through photos to pick the ones for this blog post, and I have to say I did feel a pang of sadness. That was a great apartment, a converted loft with a 13-foot ceiling in the living room and a big refrigerator and a 30-inch stove.
But I have to say that this apartment has a real full sized bedroom, probably 20 square feet bigger than the bedrooms in the other place. Bigger bedroom, smaller appliances.
This apartment is on the 5th floor, the other was on the 4th, but the climb somehow seems unchanged. At least the roof doesn’t leak here, something that was a running sore at the old apartment. I think that roof leaked with varying degrees of intensity for the whole 8 years we were there. And the heat’s good here, if anything we have to open the windows sometimes it gets so hot. And of course we don’t have to pay for the heat here like we did in Williamsburg.
I don’t miss the neighborhood, that’s for sure. We lived on Broadway, where the train roaring by every six minutes or so was a problem when you are trying to watch TV. I still didn’t get about half of what Tony Soprano said to people. That’s another thing I’ve discovered, the sound on HBO is about the worst in the world.
So here we can hear the TV better, but still have to strain to listen when we watch HBO.
Brooklyn Broadway was about the most depressing street in New York, with its dingy little shops and no trees at all.
Manhattan Broadway up here has its own assortment of dingy shops but the amount of green on the dividing strip and trees on the sidewalks sort of mitigate that.
The Hudson river Park is close enough that we spent a lot of time there this past year, riding our bikes or simply sitting by the water.
Then there’s the mural, of course. The mural at the top of this post was painted on the side of a building on Amsterdam right around the corner from us, across the street from the Trinity Church Cemetery. It’s homage to Harlem, featuring James Audubon and Leadbelly.
There’s not much good shopping up here, the cleanest Key Food a few blocks away charges even more than Whole Foods for most stuff. I guess when you’re the only game in town…
The Harlem Fairway is about a mile away; I rode my bike there during the summer to get my favorite mineral water, lugging a six-pack of liter-and-a-half bottles up the steep hill from the riverside in my backpack. Good exercise if it doesn’t kill me.
I work on 25th Street off of 6th Avenue now, with the holy Trinity of Fairway, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s all within spitting distance of my job I don’t think I’ll have to make that bike trek much next summer. But it’s good to know Fairway’s only a short bike ride away.
We went to Yankee Stadium for opening day last spring, thanks to my good friend Ezra who gave me the tickets, and we actually walked there since there was so much traffic on the bridge. Home Depot, Target and Bed, Bath and beyond are just over the bridge as well.
All and all I really like this neighborhood; it has a more relaxed old-time New York feel than the triangle of Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Bedford-Stuyvesant had, with Woodhull Hospital’s ugly façade overlooking the even uglier and smellier Flushing Avenue train station. I hated that station, with the hospital and five different housing projects close by there were plenty of angry people and homeless people always hanging around. It just didn’t feel safe at times.
There are people that hang out on stoops on our street, 152nd, and it actually feels safer knowing that there are people around all of the time. Some say hi and some don’t but I think in Williamsburg everybody just looked at the ground in front of them as they walked.
My favorite part of this neighborhood is the cemetery, whenever I walk home from the C train stop on 155th and St. Nicholas I make sure to walk on that side of the street so I can yell hello to Ed Koch as I pass his mausoleum. Audubon is on the other side, on the 155th Street side and I’ve swung by to see him as well.
I know it’s a longer walk to the train, 7-10 minutes depending on which station I choose, the Flushing Avenue station was 2 and a half minutes from my front door, but hey, you can’t have everything, can you?
We have the A and C trains on St. Nick, and if you walk to 148th Street you can catch the D and B as well. If there’s a problem on those the 1 train is on Broadway and 145th, and if both are out you can always take the bus across to Yankee Stadium where you can catch the 4 or the D trains. Or you can walk if you are too impatient to wait for the bus. As a matter of fact, you can walk to just about anywhere in the city from here. And see some trees on the way.