The NYC West Harlem trek, a 4 miles self-guided tour to visit NYC Upper Manhattan, Manhattanville and Riverside, will take you about 2.5 hours to complete  if strolling and taking photos, much more if you visit the galleries, museums, and churches along the way. You’ll also see historical houses and memorials, two universities, some churches; you’ll also walk along the Hudson river (details and photos under the map)

Highlights: Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the City College of NY, West Harlem Piers and the USS Baylander museum, the Wallach Art Gallery, General Grant National Monument, the Riverside Church, Columbia University, the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, Nicholas Roerich Museum.

A: Your trek starts at 135 St Station. Once out, walk along St Nicholas Ave and Park until W 141st St;  take it on your left.

The Hamilton Grange National Memorial will be on your left and you won’t miss it: it’s a two story Federal Style house that stands out. There, you’ll learn everything about Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of the USA. If you plan in advance, you will even be able to take a guided tour of the house.

B: Next, go back to W 141St St; turn left until you reach Convent Ave and take it on your left. You’ll see the gates of the City College of New York. Go inside to admire this unusual white stone Collegiate Gothic style campus.

Once you reach the more contemporary part of the College, turn right. Climb some stairs and go through an opening in the building to reach a gallery on your right, along Amsterdam Ave.  The map here is not accurate but you’ll see the path once you are there!

The gallery is devoted to art expressing the Dominican experience; not about the country but about the order! It seems open on appointment only, though, but try your luck anyway!

C: Next, turn left to exit the gallery and left on Amsterdam Ave. Once at W 135th or W134th St, turn right until Broadway. At W 132nd St, turn right again and walk until the river. You’ll have to go under Riverside Drive and the busy Henry Hudson Pkwy.

In the distance the USS Baylander; it’s a decommissioned Vietnam-era vessel used later to train helicopter pilots. Now a community museum open a few hours on the week-ends, it’s not a big detour once you are along the river.

D: You’ll have to go back under the Hudson Pkwy and Riverside Drive to find W 125th St. It’s not the best part of the trek, but if you want to visit the Wallach Art Gallery, at the corner of W 125th St and W 129th St, that what you’ll have to do.

You can also skip the pier and take W 129th St on your right when you are on Broadway; it’s not much nicer as far as the area is concerned, but shorter!

In any case, the gallery is well worth a visit, with often cutting edge art.

E: Once your visit is over, take W 125th St toward the river;  turn right after Riverside Drive to enter the park there.

You’ll see the dome of the General Grant Memorial in the distance;  it’s quite a large mausoleum, and it will guide you along the trails of the park. If you plan well, you’ll also be able to visit it, and learn more about another part of the history of the USA and the architecture of the building. Beware, the hours of operation are unusual, check their website before!

F: Next to it, have a look at the Riverside Church. The whole building is grand, outside and inside, with a gym underground, a theater, four stories of offices, a lot of public art, and much more.

G: Once out (it can be on Riverside Dr or Claremont Ave depending on where you went in the church), take W 120th St on your left;  then find an entrance to Columbia University on your right. It will lead you to a huge plaza called College Walk, surrounded by two imposing buildings, both libraries. The one on your left is home to the visitors center, a chance to go inside and even, perhaps, take another guided tour there. In any case, you are in the center of the University, one of the best in the USA.

Next, turn left then right to reach the Philosophy building;  behind it, there’s an overpass toward the Law building. This path will give you a chance to see some interesting sculptures.

You are now on the other side of Amsterdam Ave; to reach the W 116th St, find a stair then a pathway to your right. Ask a student if you are lost, it’s a bit of a maze here!

H: Once on W 116th St, you can either turn right then left on Amsterdam Ave, or turn left to reach Morningside Dr. (that’s what is on the map).This second option will allow you  to have a look at the mysterious park below. Then you’ll take W 113th St on your right to go back to Amsterdam Ave.

Your goal is the Gothic Revival Cathedral Church of St John The Divine. It’s one of, if not the largest Anglican Church in the world; it’s also nicknamed John the Unfinished as it’s still a work in progress. There’s a lot to see inside, with information leaflets to help you get acquainted with the place. The sculptures outside are also worth a detour.

I: Your last stop will be the Nicholas Roerich Museum. You should  reach it before 3pm as it often closes early (but can stay open for musical events). It will be your chance to see about 200 colorful and spiritual paintings of this Russian “Master of Mountains”, and travel far away from NYC. It’s also another one of the rare free museums in NYC, housed on 3 floors in a classic townhouse.

To go there, follow Amsterdam Ave toward W 107th St; take it on your right, the museum will be just before Riverside Drive.

A little more walking will get you to the entrance of the 103 St Metro station on Broadway; it will be the end of this trek.

Good to know: You’ll find restrooms in the public places along your way; benches quite often; different food options too.

Metro: 135 St, line B or C  (start),  and 103 St, line B or C (end)

Tips for the scout: they are welcome, see suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance for your contribution!

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