While Broadway is mostly known for its area in midtown Manhattan, it actually runs thirteen miles through Manhattan and two miles in the Bronx. Being the oldest north-south road in New York City, it has been a part of New York since the first New Amsterdam settlement and it continues to be in the front lines of every transformation New York City has endured throughout the years.
Broadway does go further north of the Bronx, but the northernmost one can get off the New York City subway is the Van Cortlandt Park stop off of the one train. On one side of the train station is Van Cortlandt Park and on the other side, there is urbanization. If starting early in the morning, there is a small diner that serves breakfast for five dollars. Further down Broadway, there is nothing but chains such as McDonalds, IHOP, and Dunkin Donuts as well as chain stores. It is actually hard to believe that this is the Bronx section given the reputation of the Bronx. But this section of the Bronx is known as Riverdale.
Keep following the elevated train south and the scenery improves. Between Riverdale and northern Manhattan (Imwood), there are several parks that are not so known. Aside from Van Cortlandt, there is Isham Park, Imwood Park, and Fort Tryon Park, all of which offer plenty of shade on the hot days of summer. But getting into Imwood, there is also more ethnic culture, mostly Latin American but in Imwood specifically, there is some Hassidic Jews so Hebrew can be heard on the streets as well. While there are some chains, there are many Dominican restaurants, which still dominate the area. The streets are more crowded with people walking around, people stopping in the sidewalks to catch up, and the occasional kid riding as fast as he can on his bike and skidding to avoid people. Forget the parks and nature. Now full blown urbanization has been entered.
Heading further south into Washington Heights, another Dominican dominated neighborhood in upper Manhattan, one can see another transformation, not exactly the peaceful, natural contrast between nature and urbanization that took place between Riverdale and Imwood up north. Southern Washington Heights is seeing the beginnings of gentrification. The rising rents have caused many businesses along Broadway and other streets to close, thus causing the buildings to be abandoned with tasteless graffiti as decorations where an open door with friendly locals once stood. Big chains are not at peace with the locals in the neighborhood, and they will seize an opportunity to devour local, small business. This became obvious when a big chain coffee shop started business right next door to Taszo Expresso Bar, much to the outrage of the local community, many who have been with Taszo since its beginning.
Moving along further south is Harlem, which is further along in the gentrification process so much so that One Hundred Twenty Fifth Street has some of the same chains that Times Square does. Harlem has become a shopping area for that reason, so the smaller businesses are going out of or out of business in Harlem in the same way it’s happening in Washington Heights.
Below Harlem is the Upper West Side, and even though it is a rich area, there is a huge variety of people there. Of course, this is largely due to the fact that Columbia University is in the area. The area of the Upper West Side on Broadway between One Hundred Tenth Street and Seventy Ninth Street is home to many good, diverse restaurants and bars. The restaurant and bar scene is always changing though so if one goes into this area within a few months passing, he will notice something new each time he goes. That in itself makes it a cool area that one can never get bored in. Central Park, although off Broadway, is in this area also.
Keep going and the next big thing Columbus Circle. Don’t be confused by the big circle and the fast cars going around. Stay on Broadway. Yes, more shopping can be done here. New York Institute of Technology is at Broadway and Sixty First Street. But for anyone who likes the arts, the Lincoln Center is worth checking out in this area. In this area, eat at the food trucks if hungry. Note the prices of the menus in the restaurants. It is not uncommon to see a Budweiser for seven dollars and a slice of cheesecake for ten or move dollars. Heed the warning! Vicious Manhattan prices await!
Coming up on Times Square, the buildings are more entertaining even just for window shopping. Anything from the M&M store, Disney store, and don’t forget the Times Square lights itself. Even as the other buildings have their own bright lights, the famous Times Square cannot be missed. And yes, it is crowded. But it is interesting to note that Times Square used to not be as safe as it is now. Not that things cannot still happen there because they certainly do. But if one compares the history of Times Square prior to the late 1990’s, it is easy to see how different it was then and now.
Heading south away from Times Square it becomes a little bit less chaotic, but just a little bit. Broadway will run into Herald Square, which used to have the New York Herald Building. Herald Square has a mechanical clock known as the James Gordon Monument. It consists of the goddess of wisdom, Minerva, with her owls in front of a bell. The clock chimes on the hour, and while the two seven foot bronze fixtures appear like they are ringing the bell, it is in fact rang by mallets behind the bell. The monument is the only fixture remaining from the demolition of the New York Herald building in 1921. The park between Broadway and Sixth Avenue is Greeley Park. Named after Horace Greeley, he was the publisher of the New York Tribune. Although the two newspapers were rivals, they later merged.
Even further south, Broadway does not disappoint with its trendiness. Jay Z’s 40/40 Club is on the corner of Broadway and Twenty Fifth Street. Never know who can be seen here!
When Madison Square Park is reached, the Flatiron building can be seen in a distance although it is on Fifth Avenue not Broadway. Going further is more shopping. (Can a trend be seen?) But Union Square Park between Seventeenth and Fourteenth Street is a nice break on this long walk. If reading is an interest, there is a Barnes and Noble at the top of Union Square Park and Strand Book Store is on the other side of the park. There are also numerous coffee shops (aside from the usual Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts that is).
Eighth Street and Broadway begins the New York University campus. Around that campus, there are a lot of places to sit and observe. Next head to the financial capital of the world and see where all the famous buildings are including the ones on Wall Street. Nearby is also the 9/11 Memorial.
Not long after this is the end of the Broadway walk. The end of Broadway before it turns into State Street is the Charging Bull created by Maestro Arturo Di Modica. The Charging Bull was created to show the “can do” attitude of New York. How fitting it is to be seen at the end of Broadway. With this one single street in New York City, one can see so much. From a city in the beginning to now, different culture from block to block, celebration and devastation, New York has seen it all. But in the end, New Yorkers have charged on and continue to move forward with their “can do” spirit and determination and resiliency in hearts.