My friend, Jane Gerard, accompanied me on my first foray into adventures in Manhattan. We picked 135th Street as the place to start. It is the stop for City College...which brings me to a couple of interesting facts about the school. Did you know...
Was founded as the Free Academy of the City of New York in 1847? It was created to offer higher education to immigrants and children of the poor. Even today the tuition is still amazingly low - for resident students, only $3,165 per semester!
It was renamed The College of the City of New York (CCNY) in 1866. It was and still remains one of the most successful democratic experiments in the United States.
Located in Harlem, CCNY's neo gothic buildings were designed by George Browne Post, the man who did the NY Stock Exchange.
These stunning, imposing buildings rise out of the city streets like giant, majestic animals, larger than anything nearby, claiming the attention of anyone passing by.
The history and learning happening inside these grand structures seeps out and into your bones as you walk. You can't help but be affected by their size and beauty.
Huge, decorative arches call your attention to the fact that you are entering this mammoth center for study, leaving the outside world behind. The structures are perfectly preserved. Showing no signs of wear, the intricate details add to their artistic beauty. I was in awe. And it if hadn't been so cold, I would have sat on one of the benches and simply stared at it, taking in all the intricacies I missed passing by.
Each side has grand scale that simply dwarfed anything nearby.
Spires and towers sparked my imagination, wondering what was housed in those circular structures. Although nowhere near the height of a skyscraper, these buildings commanded your attention and rose up to dominate the neighborhood with ease.
The symmetry of the construction and the beauty of the dark gray stone contrasted with the white was striking.
I felt like I was time-traveling, back to a more majestic time where neo gothic buildings ruled.
I was thankful we had chosen to visit during winter, when there were no leaves on the trees to obstruct our view of these awe-inspiring creations. Just the idea of taking classes in such a place made me want to enroll and get another degree, just so that I could hang around here and feel part of the story that is CCNY.
I started the story backwards, so let me begin at the beginning here. We exited the subway and meandered up Broadway from about 137th Street, looking for a diner or coffee shop.
I was disappointed to see how run down that part of town still is. I guess gentrification hadn't arrived there yet. Most of the buildings were townhouses, grubby, needing a power wash. My sense of safety was rattled a bit. I don't know why crime is so linked with poverty in my head. Most people here wouldn't have much worth stealing, not like the folks in the tonier parts of town.
Jane consulted her phone and tracked down a cafe, not far from where we were. She directed us East and we left the questionable neighborhood behind. The area took a noticeable step up as we approached Convent Avenue.
The townhouses went from run down to spruced up. We were impressed with the signs of gentrification creeping in. Here are a few we found especially unusual and attractive.
I've always been a sucker for rounded rooms, turrets and towers like this. New York City has some of the most interesting architecture and such individual creations.
I love how everything isn't the same, although here some of the architectural features are repeated on three houses in a row.
Too bad they "modernized" the front door. This building has some charming details.
Some are colorful, too. And look at that roof? It needs work, but how lovely. The tiny windows on the top of the turret make me wonder what that room looks like.
Unusual homes like this always make me want to go in and poke around. I never get the chance, but my imagination gets fueled by the prospects, strangers and unusual things to be found inside.
Jane's ability and phone led us to a delightful spot downstairs in the basement of a townhouse, The Sugar Hill Cafe.
We plopped down for a brief rest and refueling. We had fabulous, home-made tomato bisque soup and sandwich halves. Mine was egg salad. The food was excellent and they didn't mind if we sat there and kibbitzed, which we did. So much to catch up on as we hadn't seen each other for several months.
The cafe was charming, the service good and the staff low-key and cheerful.
I'm already planning a return trip. I called my son and told him about the place as he and his girlfriend live only a block away.
Jane and I walked and chatted after lunch, stopping to enjoy the CCNY campus and the neighborhood. I spied this church and had to snap it's front door. So beautiful!
At two o'clock, the giant bell in the school bell tower chimed. We headed back to the subway to return home.
This was an enjoyable trip, despite the fact the temperature was below what I'd usually venture out in.
Jane is planning our next NYC Rambling outing, to take place next month.
I am contemplating a trip to Delaware for the day as well as another car trip to Pittsburgh to visit my son. I'll let you know when future plans are solidified. Thank you for stopping by and joining us on our subway and foot road trip in Manhatta. Please leave a comment. I love feedback.