(Almost) Walking Broadway, Manhattan, New York

 

From Battery Park to 225th Street--13.5 miles

It is 10a.m. and I am at Battery Park, way at the southern tip of Manhattan. The sun is shining somewhere on this early December day, but in the shadow of these massive skyscrapers, it never touches ground. It is also slightly windy.

Today I am walking the length of Broadway (the street, not the theater district), and I should have started much earlier.

Broadway cuts through the heart of Manhattan, grazing many of the iconic New York sights and ending at 225th Street, a distance of 13.5 miles from where I’m standing on this December morning.

This shouldn’t be a tough walk, I figure. After all, I climbed a 750-foot sand dune in the Mojave Desert, and I’ve tackled some gnarly mountain hikes. I’m pretty sure there are no mountains in Manhattan. Piece of cake.

One Broadway

10:15–Begin the slow ascent of Broadway. I am walking through the Canyon of Heroes. These are plaques in the sidewalk that commemorate the honorees of all 200 ticker-tape parades that this street has witnessed since 1886. (Trivia: no more ticker-tape. Now it’s shredded paper.)

Plaque for Jesse Owens after beating Hitler's track stars in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Owens won 4 gold medals

Wind in the face. Walk by the Wall Street bull and what’s left of the Wall Street Occupiers. Carol is there. I’ve seen her before. “There’s more room here now. I come every day.” I thank her for standing in for me.

Carol occupying Wall Street

Past the beautiful Woolworth Building that I see from all vantage points on the NYC skyline. Past the huge Municipal Building that straddles Chambers street.

neo-Gothic Woolworth Building, one of the oldest skyscrapers in NYC

Crowds suddenly mill and thicken at the corner of Canal Street. “This is where the tour buses come,” say a mother/daughter duo who are looking for the World Trade Center site. I know enough to give directions. I duck into a souvenir stall and pick up a tschotske.

 

I’ve stopped taking notes. Too cold. I’m just taking pictures now.

I walk through the trendy shopping area of Soho, which is the neighborhood South of Houston street. (“Houston” is pronounced HOW-ston in New York.) Cross Houston.

Now I’m in Noho. (Get it?)

At 14th Street, Union Square is abuzz with Christmas cheer and commerce. Stalls are set up throughout the square hawking everything from tea to imports. It’s too big to take in; I just push on through.

View from Union Square. The Empire State Bldg is at the far left.

Flatiron Building @ Madison Square Garden

I pass the Flatiron Building at Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Built in 1902 to take advantage of odd-shaped bit of real estate, the building was originally described as “a stingy piece of pie.” Only 6 feet at the prow, naysayers bet on how far debris would fly when the building blew down. But it hasn’t. Eat it, naysayers.Madison Square Garden is to the east. Empire State Building dead ahead.

I pass an odd transition zone of small shops selling imports and very sparkly bling, and then I enter the heart of commercial madness at 34th Street. I pass through Times Square and then the Theater District wading through crowds thick as molasses.

in the Times Square mosh pit

Ridiculously, I keep losing Broadway. How can one lose a major thoroughfare? Four times I wander off as streets intersect and I follow the wrong scent. At Columbus Circle, which is yet another black hole where tourists, traffic, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages merge into chaos, I make a pit stop and graze the southern edge of Central Park.

Chillaxin' on Broadway

Even the bell-ringers (Salvation Army) dance on Broadway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Come to the show!"

 

 

the God Cloud--Times Square church

 

 

 

 

Now I’m entering the relatively quiet and elegant Upper West Side. Broadway turns genteel with lovely apartment buildings, markets, restaurants, and stores. People stroll rather than shove.

It’s mid-afternoon, and I’m only in the low 100 blocks. I’m starting to reassess both my plan and my endurance. I’m trying to remember where the subway lines hit Broadway–just in case. I pass Magnolia Bakery, the restaurant from Seinfeld. St. John the Divine, which is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen, is just down the street, and I mentally genuflect in appreciation.

a glimpse of St. John the Divine

Recognize it? The restaurant from Seinfeld

 

 

Ipass Columbia College and Union Theological Seminary, which is celebrating its 175th year. I really, really have to pee. I fantasize about finding an abandoned building or a bush. I am cold. It is dusk.

Suddenly, I recognize the McDonald’s at 125th. I see the elevator to the 1 line. Temptation overwhelms me. I take refuge in the first rule of travel: Don’t push your limits. (Or is it the second rule?)

I bail.

So I walked a moderately flat and wimpy 8.5 miles. Before I leave New York, I will go the distance. I promise.

end of the line for me--Harlem-125th Street

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9 Responses to (Almost) Walking Broadway, Manhattan, New York

  1. SANDRA 15 January, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    THAT END OF THE LINE FOR YOU SHOULD’VE BEEN THE START…..BECAUSE THERE IS SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH HISTORY THERE……

    • Kate Convissor 15 January, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Oh, man. I sure agree with you. That was a frustration for all my 6 months in NYC–there was always so much more. I was always barely scratching the surface–of neighborhoods, museums, the arts, fashion. Anywhere you go in NYC is fascinating in the present and laden with the past.

      And…I’m embarrassed to confess that I never did walk the rest of Broadway–and it goes so much farther.

      Thanks for visiting. Are you from NYC?

  2. Staten Island Homes for Sale 9 December, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    In all my years of living around here, I’ve never come across anyone who’s done this and documented it so elegantly! Fun post to read, thanks so much for the time and attention you took – you’ve made me look at some things anew. (Like St. John the Divine – you’re right.)

    • Kate Convissor 9 December, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      I had fun reading about some of the other folks who went the distance–the whole distance, and in less time.
      I spent a day at St. John a couple years ago. Reminded me of a small version of the National Cathedral in D.C. Both are fabulous.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  3. Marcia Davis 8 December, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    What a cool idea, Kate! I have never done that. Murray Hill is my favorite ‘hood. Great to see ol’ Flat Iron. I had no idea it was 13.5 miles from end to end. Thanks for the photojournal of your trek!

    • Kate Convissor 9 December, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      Hmmm. Murray Hill. I’ll have to check it out. I passed a lot of cool stuff in too big a hurry. Just read about a 71 year old who did this trek right–took him four days. He looked at everything.
      If you have any suggestions re: things to see/do, lay them on me. I’ll send a report.

  4. 50+ and on the Run 7 December, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Definitely the right choice. Put your feet up and have a warm (or cold!) drink. Weather headed your way–stay warm!

    • Kate Convissor 9 December, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      It WAS good to get back to a warm apartment and a hot shower. The small pleasures, you know…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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