New York is not my city.
I think the prime age at which I would have really enjoyed and taken advantage of this city has passed. Bright-eyed 22-year-old? I’d have owned this joint. Even the 27-year-old who almost chose to move to the Big Apple instead of going to Australia would have done all right here.
Now well into my 30s, my life is so different than it was just five years ago. I am not out sipping $20 cocktails on weeknights, attending networking events or taking a SoulCycle class. Still, the version of Manhattan life Brendan and I have carved out for ourselves and our young son is not so bad, even if it lacks some flash. We’ve distanced ourselves from the areas in which our 20-something selves would have played. Instead, we decided to live in uptown New York City.
It’s like a dirty word to some people who think anything above 100th Street is a waste of time. It’s true uptown doesn’t have as many options for restaurants and bars, music or other entertainment as places like the East Village do. But is has so much more–at least for a married mother in her early 30s. Here’s why I love living in uptown New York City.
The A Train
It’s criminal to start this list with a train line. But after living in Harlem where the only options were the local B and C, having this express line means I spend about the same time commuting all the way from the 190s to Midtown East as I did when I lived at 114th Street. Nothing feels as good as going from 125th Street all the way to 59th Street. Nothing. And because I live near the beginning of the line, I can almost always get a seat on the A even in weekday rush-hour.
The Subway Stations
Yes, this deserves a separate category from the A train. Why? Because you do not see subway stations like this anywhere else in Manhattan. In fact, my subway stop even made a TimeOut list of coolest subway stations. The stations in Hudson Heights are encased in stone structures and don’t have the round green post that indicates subway entrances elsewhere in Manhattan. They have Art Deco design elements, and the “Subway” signs are lit by green-glass, stenciled letters; the 190th Street station has, perhaps, the last freestanding subway lamp stanchion in the city. These subway stations are the last whose construction was overseen by Squire J. Vickers, the New York City Subway System’s chief architect for 36 years.
Oh, and there are elevators–and some of them are even staffed. Meaning someone actually sits in a blocked off corner of the elevator pressing the buttons for you while he simultaneously does a Crossword puzzle. Whaaaat?! It’s because my hood is home to the highest natural point in Manhattan, so they had to build the subways deep. In fact, both of the stations near me are two of the deepest in the MTA system.
Art Deco and Tudor Design
Nowhere in Manhattan are there more Art Deco buildings than there are in Hudson Heights. You can see it in the entrances, gates, even fire escapes. The Pelham family is responsible for designing some of the major Tudor buildings in the area, such as the Castle Village complex, built in the 1930s and which includes five buildings on Cabrini Boulevard overlooking the Hudson.
Outside Hudson Heights coffee shops, the subway stations and Bennett Park are “little” libraries where you can swap stories at a small bookcase (they’re often covered with a plastic tarp in the rain). If you leave a book, you can take a book. Super cute, convenient and cheap.
We lived blocks from Central Park when we first moved here. I thought there was no better park in the city. Wrong. Fort Tryon is different in look, feel and size to CP, but it offers its own beauty with its small flower garden and tree cover. It’s less crowded than CP even in summer and provides good trails for walking, running or pushing a stroller which is how I started to explore the park last summer. Plus, its views of the Hudson can’t be beat.
Authentic Dominican Food
This is terrible, but while my area boasts many authentic Dominican eateries (Washington Heights and neighboring Inwood, the last neighborhood in Manhattan, have more than 100,000 Dominican residents), I haven’t been to a single one. I’ll get around to it. But if you’re up my way, check out this self-guided Dominican eating tour put together by Edible Manhattan.
Good Bars Where You Can Actually Get a Seat
Buddha Beer Bar, District 12 and Inwood Local boast bountiful selections of craft brews and eats. The newly opened Tryon Public is a classy joint with a limited but good rotation of craft beers and a food menu. Plus, they are all kid-friendly (well, until 9 o’clock, when all children in New York bars turn into pumpkins).
I love being an Uptown girl. It’s the perfect speed for where I am in my life right now. I invite anyone who’s skeptical to hop on the A train one weekend day (in the spring, when it’s not 6 degrees out) and check us out.