The sun drops in between the tree-lined streets of Manhattan Valley. It feels almost as though the sunlight has led you to the Straus Park for your morning walk. The location is small landscaped park that features one of the most recognizable statues in the city: Ida and Isidor Straus Memorial. The bronze statue was erected in 1913 to honor the Strauses, Isidor, a co-owner of Macy’s, having been the more known figure of the two. Both Isidor and Ida perished together on the Titanic. The park is quaint and quiet, and has become an oasis of greenery and the centerpiece of the neighborhood.
On the southwest side of Central Park, there’s Columbus Circle. In Manhattan Valley, there’s the Frederick Douglass Circle. The plaza was dedicated shortly after Douglass’ passing in 1950. The pedestrian intersection wasn’t fully completed until 2010, and the area today acts at a gracious gateway to Harlem. An impeccable bronze statue of Douglass stands at the center of the circle. The circle itself is a complex set of designs, the paving pattern featuring different colors that allude to the traditional African-American quilt designs. Other intricate features include wrought-iron symbols and a water wall. The walls present inscribed details and quotations from Douglass.
There are many spectacular religious landmarks in New York City, in a variety of styles and sizes. The Church of the Ascension in Manhattan Valley was completed in 1897 and reflects a hybrid of Sicilian Romanesque of the Norman and the Byzantine styles. The amalgamation makes this establishment the first of its kind. Church of the Ascension has been the model for many churches in NYC. The most magnificent part of the church is the Muller & Abel organ and organ case. The organ has been in place since 1898 and remains an original piece of the landmark. Lastly, the church also has a place in pop culture, given how it was the setting for the hit film “Keeping the Faith” with Ben Stiller and Edward Norton.
The charm of the neighborhood is its distinct diversity, which is also reflected in the area’s culinary scene. There are Vietnamese restaurants such as Saiguette and Italian spots like Arco Café. But the most popular dinner option in the neighborhood is Freda’s Caribbean & Soul Cuisine. The food here is authentically Southern and delicious. The menu is simple, with choices such as Jerk Shrimp, Jerk Chicken and Curried Goat. But the sides are where this place is a true hit. The mac & cheese is unreal. The fried sweet plantains and collard greens are habit-forming. Then there’s the Callaloo, a mixture of okra, spinach, coconut and garlic that you must sample, no matter what.