Washington Heights, Manhattan

Washington Heights is a neighborhood in the northern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The area, with over 150,000 inhabitants as of 2010, is named for Fort Washington, a fortification constructed at the highest point on Manhattan island by Continental Army troops during the American Revolutionary War, to defend the area from the British forces. Washington Heights is bordered by Harlem to the south, along 155th Street, Inwood to the north along Hillside Avenue, the Hudson River to the west, and the Harlem River and Coogan's Bluff to the east.


Early history

In the 18th century, only the southern portion of the island was settled by Europeans, leaving the rest of Manhattan largely untouched. Among the many unspoiled tracts of land was the highest spot on the island, which provided unsurpassed views of what would become the New York metropolitan area.

When the Revolutionary War came to New York, the British had the upper hand. General George Washington and troops from his Continental Army camped on the high ground, calling it Fort Washington, to monitor the advancing Redcoats. The Continental Army retreated from its location after their defeat on November 16, 1776, in the Battle of Fort Washington. The British took the position and renamed it Fort Knyphausen in honor of the leader of the Hessians, who had taken a major part in the British victory. Their location was in the spot now called Bennett Park. Fort Washington had been established as an offensive position to prevent British vessels from sailing north on the Hudson River. Fort Lee, across the river, was its twin, built to assist in the defense of the Hudson Valley. The progress of the battle is marked by a series of bronze plaques along Broadway.

Not far from the fort was the Blue Bell Tavern, located on an intersection of Kingsbridge Road, where Broadway and West 181st Street intersect today, on the southeastern corner of modern-day Hudson Heights. On July 9, 1776, when New York's Provincial Congress assented to the Declaration of Independence, "A rowdy crowd of soldiers and civilians ('no decent people' were present, one witness said later) ... marched down Broadway to Bowling Green, where they toppled the statue of George III erected in 1770. The head was put on a spike at the Blue Bell Tavern ... "

The tavern was later used by Washington and his staff when the British evacuated New York, standing in front of it as they watched the American troops march south to retake New York.

By 1856 the first recorded home had been built on the site of Fort Washington. The Moorewood residence was there until the 1880s. The property was purchased by Richard Carman and sold to James Gordon Bennett Sr. for a summer estate in 1871. Bennett's descendants later gave the land to the city to build a park honoring the Revolutionary War encampment. Bennett Park is a portion of that land. Lucius Chittenden, a New Orleans merchant, built a home on land he bought in 1846 west of what is now Cabrini Boulevard and West 187th Street. It was known as the Chittenden estate by 1864. C. P. Bucking named his home Pinehurst on land near the Hudson, a title that survives as Pinehurst Avenue.

The series of ridges overlooking the Hudson were sites of villas in the 19th century, including the extensive property of John James Audubon.

Early and mid-20th century

At the turn of the 20th century the woods started being chopped down to make way for homes. The cliffs that are now Fort Tryon Park held the mansion of Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, a retired president of the Chicago Coke and Gas Company. He purchased 25 acres (100,000 m2) and constructed Tryon Hall, a Louis XIV-style home designed by Gus Lowell. It had a galleried entranceway from the Henry Hudson Parkway that was 50 feet (15 m) high and made of Maine granite. In 1917, Billings sold the land to John D. Rockefeller Jr. for $35,000 per acre. Tryon Hall was destroyed by fire in 1925. The estate was the basis for the book "The Dragon Murder Case" by S. S. Van Dine, in which detective Philo Vance had to solve a murder on the grounds of the estate, where a dragon was supposed to have lived.

In the early 1900s, Irish immigrants moved to Washington Heights. European Jews went to Washington Heights to escape Nazism during the 1930s and the 1940s. During the 1950s and 1960s, many Greeks moved to Washington Heights; the community was referred to as the "Astoria of Manhattan." By the 1980sâ€"90s, the neighborhood became mostly Dominican.

Fort Tryon

During World War I, immigrants from Hungary and Poland moved in next to the Irish. Then, as Naziism grew in Germany, Jews fled their homeland. By the late 1930s, more than 20,000 refugees from Germany had settled in Washington Heights.

The beginning of this section of Washington Heights as a neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood seems to have started around this time, in the years before World War II. One scholar refers to the area in 1940 as "Fort Tryon" and "the Fort Tryon area." In 1989, Steven M. Lowenstein wrote, "The greatest social distance was to be found between the area in the northwest, just south of Fort Tryon Park, which was, and remains, the most prestigious section ... This difference was already remarked in 1940, continued unabated in 1970 and was still noticeable even in 1980..." Lowenstein considered Fort Tryon to be the area west of Broadway, east of the Hudson, north of West 181st Street, and south of Dyckman Street, which includes Fort Tryon Park. He writes, "Within the core area of Washington Heights (between 155th Street and Dyckman Street) there was a considerable internal difference as well. The further north and west one went, the more prestigious the neighborhood..."


In the years after World War II, the neighborhood was referred to as Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson due to the dense population of German and Austrian Jews who had settled there. A disproportionately large number of Germans who settled in the area had come from Frankfurt-am-Main, possibly giving rise to new name. No other neighborhood in the city was home to so many German Jews, who had created their own central German world in the 1930s.

So cosmopolitan was that world that in 1934 members of the German-Jewish Club of New York started Aufbau, a newsletter for its members that grew into a newspaper. Its offices were nearby on Broadway. The newspaper became known as a "prominent intellectual voice and a main forum for German Jewry in the United States," according to the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. "It featured the work of great prominent writers and intellectuals such as Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Stefan Zweig, and Hannah Arendt. It was one of the only newspapers to report on the atrocities of the Holocaust during World War II."

In 1941, it published the Aufbau Almanac, a guide to living in the United States that explained the American political system, education, insurance law, the post office and sports. After the war, Aufbau helped families that had been scattered by European battles to reconnect by listing survivors' names. Aufbau‍ '​s offices eventually moved to the Upper West Side. The paper nearly went bankrupt in 2006, but was purchased by Jewish Media AG, and exists today as a monthly news magazine. Its editorial offices are now in Berlin, but it keeps a correspondent in New York.

When the children of the Jewish immigrants to the Hudson Heights area grew up, they tended to leave the neighborhood, and sometimes, the city. By 1960 German Jews accounted for only 16% of the population in Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson. The neighborhood became less overtly Jewish into the 1970s as Soviet immigrants moved to the area. After the Soviet immigration, families from the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, made it their home. So many Dominicans live in Washington Heights that candidates for the presidency of the Dominican Republic campaign in parades in the area.) In the 1980s African-Americans began to moved in, followed shortly by other groups. "Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson" no longer described the area.

Late 20th and early 21st centuries

1980s crime epidemic

Although Washington Heights currently has among the lowest reported crime rates within neighborhoods in Manhattan, it was once very different.

In the 1980s, the area was severely affected by the crack cocaine epidemic, as was the rest of New York City. This was due, in part, to the neighborhood crack gang, known as the Wild Cowboys or the Red Top Gang, who were associated with Santiago Luis Polanco Rodríguez. The Wild Cowboys were responsible for the higher number of crimes, especially murders, during the late 80s and early 90s. Robert Jackall wrote a book, Wild Cowboys: Urban Marauders and the Forces of Order, describing the events that took place during that period of lawlessness. Homelessness was rampant. Washington Heights had become the largest drug distribution center in the Northeastern United States during that time. A housing project in the neighborhood was nicknamed “Crack City,” an epithet commonly bestowed upon rough areas at the time.

On October 18, 1988, 24-year-old Police Officer Michael Buczek was murdered by Dominican drug dealers in Washington Heights. The killers fled to the Dominican Republic where one later died in police custody and a second was apprehended by U.S. Marshals in 2000. The third suspect was apprehended in the Dominican Republic in May 2002. Fifteen years after the shooting, Pablo Almonte, 51, and Jose Fernandez, 52, received the maximum sentence, 25 years to life, for their roles in the murder of Officer Buczek. Daniel Mirambeaux, the alleged shooter, died in June 1989, plunging to his death under mysterious circumstances after he was ordered turned over to the United States.

In the ensuing years, the Buczek family founded the Michael John Buczek Foundation. There is a street, an elementary school, and a little league baseball field named in honor of Michael John Buczek. The Michael Buczek Little League hosts 30 teams with over 350 boys and girls, and is coached by officers from the 34th precinct.

Urban renewal

Crime fell in the subsequent years. Police presence increased, building landlords allowed police to patrol in apartment buildings, which led to the arrests of thousands of drug dealers a year in Washington Heights. The arrest of police officers involved in drug dealing changed the neighborhood dramatically. People were also being stopped for quality of life crimes. A new police precinct was also added in the area. Today, its crime rate, along with that of neighboring Harlem, is much lower.

Even though crime complaints were down 5.88% in 2007 over 2001 (and down 65.47% from 1993), there were five murders in lower Washington Heights (that is, below W. 178th St.) in 2007. By comparison, in the upper portion of Washington Heights, where the 34th Precinct includes Fort George, Hudson Heights and as well as the separate neighborhood of Inwood, there was only one murder in 2007; likewise, above W. 179th Street, crime complaints were down 21.05% in 2007 over 2001 (and down 83.15% from 1993).

That puts lower Washington Heights on par with Harlem, where the 30th Precinct also recorded five murders in 2007. By comparison, the 13th Precinct (Flatiron District, Stuyvesant Town and Union Square) recorded three murders in 2007 and the 20th Precinct (the Upper West Side) recorded none.

By the 2000s, after years when gangsters ruled a thriving illegal drug trade, urban renewal began. Many Dominicans moved to Morris Heights, University Heights, and other West Bronx neighborhoods, as well as Los Angeles, California. While gentrification is often blamed for rapid changes in the neighborhood, the changes in population also reflect the departure of the dominant nationality. Even though Dominicans still make up 73 percent of the neighborhood, their moves to the Bronx have made room for other Hispanic groups, such as Ecuadorians, according to The Latino Data Project of the City University of New York. The proportion of whites in Washington Heights has declined from 18 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2005.

In 2011, Washington Heights was the fourth-safest neighborhood in Manhattan, according to one analysis of police records. Its "Crime and Safety Report," which ranks every neighborhood in the five boroughs, found that the drop in crime in Upper Manhattan led the neighborhood nearly to the top; Inwood ranked third. By comparison, Greenwich Village ranked 68th.


Washington Heights is on the high ridge in Upper Manhattan that rises steeply north of the narrow valley that carries 133rd Street to the former ferry landing on the Hudson River that served the village of Manhattanville. Though the neighborhood was once considered to run as far south as 133rd Street, modern usage defines the neighborhood as running north from Hamilton Heights at 155th Street to Inwood, topping out at just below Hillside Avenue or Dyckman Street, depending on the source.

The wooded slopes of Washington Heights seen from a sandy cove on the Hudson as they were about 1845 are illustrated in a canvas by John James Audubon's son, Victor Clifford Audubon, conserved by the Museum of the City of New York.

Location of Manhattan's highest point

Fifteen blocks from the northern end of Washington Heights, in its Hudson Heights neighborhood near Pinehurst Avenue and West 183rd Street in Bennett Park, is a plaque marking Manhattan's highest natural elevation, 265 feet (81 m) above sea level, at what was the location of Fort Washington, the Revolutionary War camp of General George Washington and his troops, from whom Washington Heights takes its name.


Fort Tryon and Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson, as described above, were ethnic enclaves that existed in Washington Heights at one time or another.

Other enclaves include Hudson Heights, Fort George, and El Alto.

Hudson Heights

Hudson Heights is generally considered to extend as far east as Broadway, although others shrink it to the blocks between Fort Washington Avenue and the Hudson River. The name seems to have stuck starting in the 1990s, when neighborhood real estate brokers and activists started using it.

Neighborhood activists formed a group in late 1992 to help promote the neighborhood and after considering several names, settled on the one that became part of their organization's name: Hudson Heights Owners' Coalition. According to one of the group's founders, real estate brokers didn't start using the name until after the group was formed. Elizabeth Ritter, the president of the owners' group, said that they "didn’t set out to change the name of the neighborhood, but [they] were careful in how [they] selected the name of the organization." "Hudson Heights" actually began to be used as a name for a section of the neighborhood a year later.

The new name replaced the outdated reference to German heritage, which some have criticized, even though the German-speaking population is negligible at best. Although many Russian speakers still live there, Spanish-speakers vastly outnumber the Russophones, and English remains the lingua franca.

Hudson Heights' name has been adopted by such varied entities in the area as arts organizations and businesses. Newspapers from The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times to The Village Voice use the name in reference to the neighborhood, as did The New York Sun, and by Gourmet magazine. Money magazine in its November 2007 article naming Hudson Heights the best neighborhood to retire to in New York City.

Fort George

Hudson Heights is not the only Washington Heights neighborhood with a distinct name. Historically, Fort George runs from Broadway east to the Harlem River, and from West 181st Street north to Dyckman Street. The largest institution in Fort George is Yeshiva University, whose main campus sits east of Amsterdam Avenue in Highbridge Park. A branch of the Young Men's & Women's Hebrew Association is in the neighborhood, and George Washington High School sits on the site of the original Fort George. Fort George Presbyterian Church is on St Nicholas Avenue. One of Manhattan's rare semi-private streets is also there. Washington Terrace runs south of West 186th Street for a half-block between Audubon and Amsterdam Avenues. The single-family homes there were built for middle-class families but some have been unoccupied for years. The M3 and M101 bus routes serve the area.

El Alto

Interestingly, new names for neighborhoods are generally considered to be ersatz creations of real estate agents and, therefore, emblematic of gentrification. However, the newest name for Washington Heights â€" an alternative, really â€" comes not from people with dollar signs in their eyes. The Spanish-speaking Caribbean immigrants who have flocked here for decades call Washington Heights a name worthy of its elevation: El Alto.

Points of interest


  • Bennett Park â€" highest natural point in Manhattan
  • Fort Tryon Park â€" home to The Cloisters
  • Fort Washington Park â€" home of the Little Red Lighthouse
  • Gorman Park
  • Highbridge Park
  • Jay Hood Wright Park
  • Riverside Park
  • Mitchell Square Park, has the Washington Heights and Inwood World War I memorial by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

Noted sites

Among the Heights' now-vanished riverfront estates was "Minnie's Land", the home of ornithological artist John James Audubon, who is buried in Trinity Church Cemetery churchyard of the neighborhood's Church of the Intercession (1915), a masterpiece by architect Bertram Goodhue. Also buried there is poet Clement Clarke Moore, who wrote "'Twas the Night Before Christmas".

Columbia University Medical Center and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the medical campus and school, respectively, of Columbia University, lie in the area of 168th Street and Broadway, occupying the former site of Hilltop Park, the home of the New York Highlanders â€" now known as the New York Yankees â€" from 1903 to 1912. Across the street is the New Balance Track and Field center, an indoor track and home to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.

The best known cultural site and tourist attraction in Washington Heights is The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park at the northern end of the neighborhood, with spectacular views across the Hudson to the New Jersey Palisades. This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is devoted to Medieval art and culture, and is located in a medieval-style building, portions of which were purchased in Europe, brought to the United States, and reassembled.

Audubon Terrace, a cluster of five distinguished Beaux Arts institutional buildings, is home to another major, though little-visited museum, The Hispanic Society of America. The Society has the largest collection of works by El Greco and Goya outside the Museo del Prado, including one of Goya's famous paintings of Cayetana, Duchess of Alba. In September 2007, it commenced a three-year collaboration with the Dia Art Foundation. The campus on Broadway at West 156th Street also houses The American Academy of Arts and Letters, which holds twice yearly, month-long public exhibitions, and Boricua College.

Manhattan's oldest remaining house, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, is located in the landmarked Jumel Terrace Historic District, between West 160th and West 162nd Street, just east of St. Nicholas Avenue. An AAM-accredited historic house museum, the Mansion interprets the colonial era, the period when General George Washington occupied it during the American Revolutionary War, and the early 19th century in New York.

The Paul Robeson Home, located at 555 Edgecombe Avenue on the corner of Edgecombe Avenue and 160th Street, is a National Historic Landmark building. The building is now known for its famous African American residents including actor Paul Robeson, musician Count Basie, and boxer Joe Louis.

Other famous Washington Heights residents include Althea Gibson the first African American Wimbledon Champion, Frankie Lymon of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" fame, Leslie Uggams who was a regular on the Sing Along with Mitch Show. Other musicians who resided in the area for significant periods of time were jazz drummers Tony Williams and Alphonse Muzon and Grammy award winning Guitarist Marlon Graves.

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated during a speech at the Audubon Ballroom, on Broadway at West 165th Street. The interior of the building was demolished, but the Broadway facade remains, incorporated into one of Columbia's Audubon Center buildings. It is now the home of the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Several shops, restaurants and a bookstore occupy the first floor.

At the Hudson's shore, in Fort Washington Park stands the Little Red Lighthouse, a small lighthouse located at the tip of Jeffrey's Hook at the base of the eastern pier of the George Washington Bridge. It was made famous by a 1942 children's book and is the site of a namesake festival in the late summer. A 5.85-mile recreational swim finishes there in early autumn. It's also a popular place to watch for peregrine falcons.



Washington Heights is connected to Fort Lee, New Jersey across the Hudson River via the Othmar Ammann-designed George Washington Bridge, the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge. The Pier Luigi Nervi-designed George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal is located at the Manhattan end of the bridge, at West 179th Street and Fort Washington Avenue. Constructed in 1963, the terminal has huge ventilation ducts that look like concrete butterflies from a disttance. Nervi's bust sits in the terminal's lobby.

The Trans-Manhattan Expressway, a portion of Interstate 95, proceeds from the George Washington Bridge in a trench between 178th and 179th Streets. To the east, the Highway leads to the Alexander Hamilton Bridge across the Harlem River to the Bronx and the Cross Bronx Expressway. The Washington Bridge crosses the Harlem River just north of the Alexander Hamilton Bridge. High Bridge is the oldest bridge in New York City still in existence, crossing the river just south of the Alexander Hamilton Bridge at 175th Street in Manhattan. Originally it carried the Croton Aqueduct as part of the New York City water system and later functioned as a pedestrian bridge that has been closed since 1970. On January 11, 2013, mayor Michael Bloomberg broke ground for the redevelopment of the High Bridge as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, with anticipated completion in 2015.

Elevation changes

Because of their abrupt, hilly topography, pedestrian navigation, particularly in Upper Manhattan and the West Bronx, is facilitated by many step streets. The longest of these in Washington Heights, at approximately 130 stairs, connects Fort Washington Avenue and Overlook Terrace at 187th Street.

Traversal of the elevation change can also be used using the three massive elevators within the 181st Street subway station, with entrances on Overlook Terrace and Fort Washington Avenue. A similar situation exists at 190th Street. When originally built, fare control for both of these stations was in the station house, outside the elevators, which meant that they could only be used by paying a subway fare, but both have had fare control moved down to the mezzanine level, making the elevators free for neighborhood residents to use, and providing easier pedestrian connection between Hudson Heights and the rest of Washington Heights.


Washington Heights is well served by the New York City Subway. On the IND Eighth Avenue Line, service is available at the 155th Street and 163rd Street â€" Amsterdam Avenue stations (A C trains), the 168th Street station (1 A C trains), and the 175th Street, 181st Street, and 190th Street stations (A train). Along the IRT Broadway â€" Seventh Avenue Line, the 1 train stops at 157th Street, 168th Street, 181st Street, and 191st Street.

The 190th Street station contains the subway's only entrance in the Gothic style, although when originally built, it was a plain brick building; the stone facade was added later to bring the building into harmony with the entrance to Fort Tryon Park just across Margaraet Corbin Circle. The station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. The 190th Street station, along with the 191st Street station, has the distinction of being one of the deepest in the entire subway system by distance to ground level. Therefore, the IND 181st Street and 190th Street stations provide elevator connections between Hudson Heights, on the top of the ridge, and the Broadway valley of Washington Heights below. The iRT 191st Street station also has elevators to street level.


MTA Regional Bus Operations' M2, M3, M4, M5, M98, M100, M101, Bx3, Bx6, Bx7, Bx11, Bx13, Bx35, and Bx36 routes serve the area



The Art Stroll is an annual festival of the arts that highlights local artists. Public places in Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill host impromptu galleries, readings, performances and markets over several weeks each summer.

Bennett Park is the location of the highest natural point in Manhattan, as well as a commemoration on the west side of the park of the walls of Fort Washington, which are marked in the ground by stones with an inscription that reads: "Fort Washington Built And Defended By The American Army 1776." Land for the park was donated by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the publisher of the New York Herald. His father, James Gordon Bennett, Sr., bought the land and was previously the Herald's publisher. Bennett Park hosts the annual Harvest Festival in September and the children's Halloween Parade â€" with trick-or-treating afterwards â€" on All Hallow's Eve.

Many small shops are located on West 181st Street at the southern end of the neighborhood, and all along Broadway. In the middle of the neighborhood itself, there is a small shopping area at West 187th Street between Cabrini Boulevard and Fort Washington Avenue.

News of Upper Manhattan is published weekly in The Manhattan Times, a bilingual newspaper. Its annual restaurant guide, highlights the area's burgeoning restaurant scene. Events are also listed in the Washington Heights & Inwood Online calendar.

Racial makeup

Today the majority of the neighborhood's population is of Dominican birth or descent (the area is sometimes referred to as "Quisqueya Heights"), and Spanish is frequently heard spoken on the streets. Washington Heights has been the most important base for Dominican accomplishment in political, non-profit, cultural, and athletic arenas in the United States since the 1960s. Most of the neighborhood businesses are locally owned. Many Dominican immigrants come to network and live with family members. Bishop Gerard Walsh, former long-time pastor of St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church, located in Washington Heights, said that many residents go to the neighborhood for "cheap housing," to obtain jobs "downtown," to receive a "good education," and "hopefully" to leave the neighborhood.

Before the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in 2001, according to an article in The Guardian, the flight had "something of a cult status in Washington Heights." A woman quoted in the newspaper said "Every Dominican in New York has either taken that flight or knows someone who has. It gets you there early. At home there are songs about it." After the crash occurred, makeshift memorials appeared in Washington Heights.


Heralding the arts scene north of Central Park is the annual Uptown Arts Stroll. Artists from Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill are featured in public locations throughout upper Manhattan each summer for several weeks. As of 2008, the Uptown Art Stroll is run by Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance.

The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), led by Executive Director Sandra A. García Betancourt, was founded in 2007 to support artists and arts organizations in Washington Heights and Inwood. Their stated mission is to cultivate, support and promote the work of artists and arts organizations in Northern Manhattan. In 2008, NoMAA awarded $50,000 in grants to seven arts organizations and 33 artists in the Washington Heights/Inwood art community. NoMAA sponsors community arts events and publishes an email newsletter of all art events in Washington Heights and Inwood.



Five clubs in American professional sports played in the Washington Heights area: the New York Giants, who are now the San Francisco Giants, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, the Football New York Giants and the New York Jets. The baseball Giants played at the Polo Grounds at West 155th Street and Eighth Avenue from 1911â€"1957, the Yankees played there from 1913â€"1922, and the New York Mets played their first two seasons (1962 and 1963) there as well as the Football Giants (1925â€"1955) and New York Jets (1960â€"1963).

Before the Yankees played at the Polo Grounds, they played in Hilltop Park on Broadway between 165th and 168th from 1903â€"1912; at the time they were known as the New York Highlanders. On May 15, 1912, after being heckled for several innings, the great Ty Cobb leaped the fence and attacked his tormentor. He was suspended indefinitely by league president Ban Johnson, but his suspension was eventually reduced to 10 days and $50. One of the most amazing pitching performances of all time took place at Hilltop Park; on September 4, 1908, 20 year-old Walter Johnson shut out New York 3-0 with a five-hitter. The park is now the Columbia University Medical Center, a major hospital complex, which opened on that location in 1928. Washington Heights was the birthplace of Yankee star Alex Rodriguez. Slugger Manny Ramírez grew up in the neighborhood, moving there from the Dominican Republic when he was thirteen years old and attending George Washington High School, where he was one of the nation's top prospects. Hall-of-Fame infielder Rod Carew, a perennial batting champion in the 1970s, also grew up in Washington Heights, having emigrated with his family from Panama at the age of fourteen. The New York Yankee's Lou Gehrig who grew up on 173rd and Amsterdam. He attended the elementary school P.S. 132 on 185th Wadsworth Ave. The Yankee captain lived in Washington Heights for most of his life.

The New York Mets and New York Jets both began play at the Polo Grounds while their future home, Shea Stadium in Queens, was under construction.


The New Balance Track and Field Center, located in the Fort Washington Avenue Armory, maintains an Olympic-caliber track that is one of the fastest in the world. Starting in January 2012, the Millrose Games will be held there after nearly a century in Madison Square Garden.

In addition, high school and colleges hold meets at the Armory regularly, and it is open to the public, for a fee, for training. The auditorium seats 2,300 people.

Also at the Armory is The National Track and Field Hall of Fame, along with the Charles B. Rangel Technology & Learning Center for children and students in middle school and high school. The facility is operated by the Armory Foundation, which was created in 1993.

The Armory is the starting point for an annual road race founded by Peter M. Walsh, the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K, which is run in March. The race is sanctioned by the New York Road Runners, and counts toward a guaranteed starting spot in the New York Marathon.

Mountain bike races take place in Highbridge Park in the spring and summer. Sponsored by the New York City Mountain Bike Association, the races are held on alternate Thursdays and are open to professional competitors and amateurs. Participating in these races is free, but the All-City Cross Country Classic requires a registration fee because prize money is awarded.

Extreme swimmers take part in the Little Red Lighthouse Swim, a 5.85-mile swim in the Hudson River from Clinton Cove (Pier 96) to Jeffrey’s Hook, the location of the Little Red Lighthouse. The annual race, sponsored by the Manhattan Island Foundation, attracts more than 200 competitors. The course records for men and women were both set in 1998. Jeffrey Jotz, 28, of Rahway, N.J., finished in 1 hour, 7 minutes and 36 seconds. Julie Walsh-Arlis, 31, of New York, finished in 1:12:45.

A group of local politicians, sports enthusiasts, and community organizers have, for the past two years, organized an event for children called the "Uptown Games." The event has an aim of "teaching kids at an early age what a pleasure it is to be physically active," according to one of the 2012 organizers, Cliff Sperber, of the New York Road Runners Association. The Uptown Games is held at the Fort Washington Avenue Armory.

Religious institutions

Christian institutions include:

  • Mother Cabrini High School (closed)
  • Church of the Incarnation, Roman Catholic (Manhattan)
  • Saint Rose Of Lima School (Roman Catholic)
  • Operation Exodus Inner City (Saturday and after school program)
  • St. Spyridon School (Greek Orthodox)
  • Saint Elizabeth School and Church (Roman Catholic)
  • Fort Washington Collegiate Church

Jewish institutions include:

  • Yeshiva University
  • Congregation Machzikei Torah
  • Fort Tryon Jewish Center
  • K'hal Adath Jeshurun: Breuers
  • Mount Sinai Jewish Center
  • Shaare Hatikvah Congregation
  • Washington Heights Congregation: The Bridge Shul


Colleges and universities

University education includes Yeshiva University and Boricua College. The medical campus of Columbia University hosts the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Dental Medicine, the Mailman School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, and the biomedical programs of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which offer Masters and Doctorate degrees in several fields. These schools are among the departments that comprise the Columbia University Medical Center.

Despite its name, CUNY in the Heights, the uptown campus of the City University of New York, is not in the Heights, but in Inwood. The CUNY XPress Center, however, is in the Fort George neighborhood of Washington Heights, but it is not a campus. Instead, its purpose is to assist immigrants and to help students enroll in one of the CUNY schools.

Primary and secondary schools

Private primary and secondary schools include Mother Cabrini High School, The School of The Incarnation, The School of Saint Elizabeth, Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, and the City College Academy of the Arts, a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Other private schools include the Herbert G. Birch School for Exceptional Children, Medical Center Nursery School and the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy.

Public primary and secondary schools are assigned to schools in the New York City Department of Education. High Schools include: George Washington High School

The Equity Project is a charter school serving grades 4â€"6.

Zoned middle schools include:

  • J.H.S. 143 Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Mirabal Sisters Schools, MS 319, MS 324, and MS 321, formerly IS-90

Grade 6 and 7 option schools include:

  • (WHEELS) Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

Zoned elementary schools include:

  • P.S. 189
  • P.S. 366 Washington Heights Academy
  • P.S. 48 Police Officer Michael John Buczek School
  • P.S. 128 Audubon
  • P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte
  • P.S. 173
  • P.S. 187 Hudson Cliffs School
  • P.S. 192 Jacob H Schiff School
  • P.S. 314 The Muscota New School

Public libraries

New York Public Library operates the Washington Heights Branch at 1000 St. Nicholas Avenue at West 160th Street, and the Fort Washington Branch at 535 West 179th Street at Audubon Avenue. The branch was closed for renovations beginning in April 15, 2010, but it is currently open.

Local newspapers

The Manhattan Times is the bilingual community newspaper serving the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods of Northern Manhattan for the past 10 years. The Manhattan Times is published every Wednesday and is distributed primarily through black street boxes. The Manhattan Times is also available for subscription.

The sections of each edition reflect the interests of the community: Uptown Dining, Real Estate, Health & Fitness, Green Times, and more. The Manhattan Times has created numerous partnerships over the years with local institutions and organizations.

The print version is distributed free on Wednesdays in street boxes, local businesses, nonprofits and residential buildings.

Although the Manhattan times newspaper is only published weekly, news is updated daily on the Manhattan Times website for the local community.

In popular culture

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Washington Heights include:




  • The WPA Guide to New York City, 1938; reprinted 1982, pp 294ff.

External links

  • Flowers and landscapes of Fort Tryon Park
  • Hudson Heights Restoration
  • Hudson Heights Guide
  • Washington Heights Blog

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About Maya Trico

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