Washington Heights, located in Upper Manhattan, is bound by Harlem to the South along 155th Street, and Inwood to the North along Dyckman Street, the Hudson River to the West and the Harlem River to the East. It is named for Fort Washington, a fortification used by the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War to defend the area from the British forces. With Manhattan‘s highest natural elevation, 265 ft above sea level, located in Bennett Park, it was a very important area for General George Washington to occupy and control. But during the Battle of Fort Washington, in 1776, the area was lost to the British and renamed “Fort Knyphausen” to honor the German general who had led the successful attack, and held it for the remainder of the war.
Many ethnic groups have moved in this area starting with Irish immigrants in the early 1900s, Jews from Frankfurt am Main, Germany giving it the name Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson and Austria that were leaving their homes as the Nazi Party came to power in the late 1940s. Even after World War II Germans continued to move to the area around 160th Street and Broadway and it was referred to as the Fourth Reich. During the 1950s and 1960s, many Greeks moved to Washington Heights and it was referred to as the “Astoria of Manhattan.” By the 1980s, the neighborhood became mostly Dominican and referred to as “Quisqueya Heights“. By the 2000s, the area had rapidly declined and was known for its heavy drug trade and crime. With efforts from various City, State and Federal agencies working together the drug trade and crime rate has dropped dramatically and Washington Heights is on the move to becoming one of the premier neighborhoods to live in Manhattan.
Washington Heights is home to numerous cultural and historical sites, parks, sports teams and educational institutions, like Yeshiva University, a private university founded in 1886. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the US that combines Jewish studies with regular studies. Washington Heights is also home to The Boricua College, founded in 1974 and designated to serve the needs of its predominantly Hispanic students through a bilingual, bicultural approach to learning, and special course offerings in Puerto Rican art and history; and the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library, which are located in Audubon Terrace; Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), an academic medical center located between 165th and 169th streets on Broadway, that includes Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing and Mailman School of Public Health.
You will also find The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, which is associated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring medieval art and culture. The Morris-Jumel Mansion – the oldest house in Manhattan – which is located in Jumel Terrace Historic District, along with 555 Edgecombe Avenue, once home to recording artist, actor, athlete, and scholar Paul Robeson, musician Count Basie, and boxer Joe Louis.
The Audubon Ballroom, built by Thomas W. Lamb in 1912, was once a ballroom, vaudeville house, movie theater, synagogue, and meeting hall. This is the site where Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. Today, it is home to the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, shops, restaurants and Columbia University‘s Audubon Business and Technology Center. Tucked away in Fort Washington Park is the Little Red Lighthouse, a small lighthouse located at the tip of Jeffrey’s Hook at the base of the George Washington Bridge. It was made famous by a 1942, children’s book named The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward.
Many of the great sports teams have played in Washington Heights – the New York Giants, now the San Francisco Giants played at the Polo Grounds between 155th and 159th Streets until the end of the 1957 season, when they moved to San Francisco. This area known as Hilltop Park located at 168th Street and Broadway was home to the New York Highlanders. Today, they are known as the New York Yankees, who played there between 1903 and 1912, and at the Polo Grounds between 1913 and 1922. The New York Mets played their first two seasons, 1962 and 1963, at the Polo Grounds. The Polo Grounds was also home to the New York Giants, from 1925 to 1955, and the New York Jets in 1960. The Fort Washington Avenue Armory, built in 1911 by Walker & Morris, is home to The New Balance Track and Field Center with an Olympic-caliber track that is one of the fastest in the world.
Many famous people were born, and have lived and worked in Washington Heights, including Academy Award nominated actor Laurence Fishburne, columnist and reporter at The New York Times Jim Dwyer, Creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk Stan Lee, former National Security Advisor and United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, “Dr. Ruth“, sex educator and sex counselor Ruth Westheimer, Dominican baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers Manny Ramírez, and Dominican-American baseball player for the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez. In addition to those well-known men, Althea Gibson, the first African American Wimbledon Champion, Frankie Lymon of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” fame, Freddie Prinze, of Puerto Rican and Hungarian descent, stand-up comedian, best known for his 1970s TV series Chico and the Man, David Dinkins, former Mayor of New York City, 1990-1994, and Tiny Tim, real name – Herbert Khaury; singer and ukelele player, a novelty act of the 1960s best known for his rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” lived in Washington Heights.
Transportation: Bus—M2, M3, M4, M5, M100, M101, BX3, BX6, BX7, BX13, BX35, BX36. Subway—A, C, 1
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Posted by Max on 13th Jan 2012
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