From Fort Tryon Park, a walk through the Hudson River Greenway offers a glimpse into utopia – or so it seems, if you can call yourself a resident in the Castle Village and read your newspaper in that garden with the George Washington Bridge only a breath away.
Designed by architect, George Fred Pelham Jr. in 1938-39, only about fifteen years after his father, George Fred Pelham Sr., designed another distinctive complex just across the street, the Hudson View Gardens. From a time when Manhattan was still a city of brick and mortar and had not yet succumbed to glass and steel.
I’m not talking about me, oh no, even though with this view I often feel like a princess in her tower. It’s that rooftop looking down between the buildings that looks like a public parking but is usually empty, save for a car or two. It’s not often one can find an empty spot of this size in the heart of Manhattan, where every available inch is too valuable to be left unused.
There is a walkway next to Adler Planetarium, called the Skyline Walk. It turns around the nearby Aquarium and continues as Lakefront Trail towards Grant Park. And it offers the best skyline views of Chicago from the ground, with the low clouds adding an extra layer of mystery and drama to the already impressive scene.
Crossing on foot the Roosevelt Island Bridge doesn’t take long; it is one of the shortest ones – around 2,880 feet or 880 metres only – in the area, connecting Roosevelt Island with Astoria. It is the only way to reach the island by car or on foot (without using the aerial tram or subway) but we only met a couple of vehicles and people. Crossing it proved to be an excellent idea, following the underwhelming experience in Socrates Sculpture Park. The industrial views and welcome quietude of an early afternoon more than made up for it.
One is spoiled for choice as far as cruises are concerned: Alcatraz tours by day or night, bridge-to-bridge ones, cruises for watching the sunset or whale-watching ones, you name it, chances are you can have it. We took the lazy one, that circles around Alcatraz and under the Golden Bridge. It was windy and brisk and the views were amazing.
For those of us who live and work in Manhattan and don’t have to commute, a boat trip to Staten Island is one of those short cruises one usually reserves for visiting family or friends: it is free, runs on a 24/7 basis, offers dreamy vistas of Manhattan, New York harbour and the Statue of Liberty – and is totally fun!
The ferry departs from Whitehall Terminal at the southernmost tip of Manhattan and the crossing to Staten Island takes about 25 minutes. If you do not plan to explore Staten Island itself, you can just line up for the next ferry back and continue on foot along the Battery Park Esplanade for even more gorgeous views.
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