Civic by Sunrise

You’ve probably driven through it on your way to Ground Zero; skimmed the surface of it while making your way on to the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, or then rushed past it in your hurry to snag a good deal at J&R. Bounded by Broadway on its west, Park Row and Centre Street on its east, Chinatown to its north and the Financial District to its south, lies a compact, often overlooked, and highly underrated section of Lower Manhattan – Civic Center!

A good place to start your walk around Civic Center is City Hall Park, and probably the best time of day to do so is the crack of dawn…


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The Boatel at Marina 59

The platform at Broad Channel is packed to the rafters as our train pulls in – rather unusual for a Sunday morning, this far out in Queens! The doors open and every single one of our fellow passengers – with surfboards, picnic hampers and folding chairs in tow – alight to join the throngs. Clearly, we didn’t get the memo this morning. Either that, or things have changed considerably since my last visit to the Rockaways!

We alight two stations later at Beach 60th St., and the platform there is as desolate as can be. With only a smattering of passengers on board, the A train trundles off in the direction of Far Rockaway, while we make our way a couple of blocks north to the Boatel at Marina 59. Having figured out how to get into the gated compound, we are motioned in the direction of ‘A dock’.


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Biking through the South Bronx, one green patch at a time!

Chances are, you’ve passed right over it, in your car or in a bus, whizzing along the Bruckner or the Major Deegan, as you make your way into or out of the city. Or if you’re a baseball fan, you’ve probably ridden the #4 train to watch a game at Yankee Stadium. But there’s a lot more to the South Bronx than the Yankees, or views of industrial blight afforded by the many expressways that criss cross it. Just east of the Bruckner, in fact, a little known resurgence is taking place along the Bronx River. I set out one morning to investigate for myself.

The Hunts Point section of the South Bronx lies approximately 5 miles north of Astoria, a 25-minute bike ride for me via the Triborough / RFK bridge. At the southern end of Tiffany St., about a mile off the gritty Bruckner Blvd, past old warehouses and truck repair shops, sits an 11-acre patch of green by the name of Barretto Point Park.


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Before the Village awakes

”This section of Manhattan, owing to its peculiar street system . . . preserves to this day the traditions, habits and quaintness of old New York” – Real Estate Record & Guide of 1915.

Almost a century since the guide was published, little has changed in the West Village. Having spent my first year (in NYC) there, and looking back on 7 years, 5 apartments and 3 boroughs, it continues to be my favourite neighbourhood in the city!

A few weekends ago, a friend and I decided to meet at the crack of dawn and photograph the streets and buildings of this wonderfully quaint hood. For a change, I’m going to let the photographs do the talking, or most of it at least 🙂

Our walk begins in Washington Square Park, considered by many to be the heart of the Greenwich Village. On the park’s south side, the tower of the Judson Memorial Church rises high enough to pick up the first few rays..


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The Heights of Manhattan

The name Manhattan is a Native American word that translates to ‘island of many hills’. To most visitors though, and to those few residents who’ve never had opportunity to use the GW bridge, the island of Manhattan is perceived as flat! No fault of theirs really – the city’s urban development in the early 19th-century ensured that much of the island’s topographical variations were evened out.

Washington Heights and Inwood, the northernmost neighbourhoods on the island, are remnants of that undulation, and little known ones at that. A stroll or bike ride through them reveals not only what the island would have looked like pre-development, but also many a hidden treasure. Towards the end of summer this year, I set out to find out just that!

11 miles after leaving my house on a warm Sunday morning, I made my first stop at 156th & Broadway. There, occupying a full city block sits Audobon Terrace, a complex of eight early 20th-century Beaux Arts buildings, named after John James Audobon, a French-American ornithologist, on who’s land the structures stand.


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