The serenity of the West Harlem Piers will make you come back again and again. The waterside oasis transforms into an ultimate morning hangout during the warmer months. There are yoga and fitness classes on the sloped lawn that overlooks the Hudson River. The sparkling new pier, which has become a fishing destination, gives visitors and residents an up close and personal experience of the river. There’s also a ferry stop nearby, and the original fixtures of the park have been turned into works of art — think High Line meets Brooklyn Bridge Park. The granite benches and repurposed cobblestone pavements add a charming element to the park. Don’t think this place is just for seasonal excursions. The park is equally as beautiful in the winter months, and especially when the snows covers the city.
There’s an educational facility in the area that boasts a fabulous history and landscape. Take a stroll through the campus of the City College of New York to find some of the most beautiful buildings in the Manhattanville. The college itself is storied and respected across the country. City College has been the flagship institution of the 24-college CUNY system when it was established in 1847 as the first free public institution in the United States. Since its inception, the school has widely been considered the poor man’s version of an Ivy League school, boasting 10 Nobel Prize-winning alumni. The campus design, in its Collegiate Gothic style, is astonishing. Most of the Gothic Revival buildings on the campus are amalgamated with a touch of English Tudor elements. The best examples are the Shepard Hall near the entrance of the campus, and the Townsend Harris Hall.
Located on the City College campus, the Aaron Davis Hall has become the area’s leading performing arts center as well as a major outlet for student and up-and-coming performers. The state-of-the-art performance hall received a grant to renovate the facility 2007. In conjunction with The Gatehouse Theater, the location was built by rehabilitating a former 19th century Croton Aqueduct. The spacious stage has enabled larger projects to take advantage of the facility. There’s also film series screenings such as the Classic Cuban Films series, and the hall hosts spoken word performances such as the annual Langston Hughes Festival.
The purveyors at Manhattanville Coffee take their Joe seriously. That’s means you will be frequenting the spot. The interior is cozy and inviting – hand-polished wood tabletops, classic leather couches and exposed brick walls complimented by the subtle lighting create a comfortable environment – and a perfect backdrop for your morning coffee rituals. The service makes this small coffee shop great. They pay attention to detail and serve their tasty Intelligentsia Coffee with a smile, no matter the time of day. The cappuccino is delicately prepared and the eats are always fresh – the lox and cream cheese on a bagel are a perfect morning accompaniment.
Since your neighborhood is relatively small, great lunch spots are not as abundant. A comfort food eatery called Toast Uptown offers up decent burgers and finger food. Possibly the best place for lunch in these parts is Pisticci. The Italian fare is amazing and prides itself on being organic and farm-to-table. You’ll find many great lunch specials here, such as the prosciutto & mozzarella panini for $10 or orecchiette broccoli rabe for $12.
You will find many hidden gems all throughout New York City, and this also holds true for old theaters, many of which have been transformed into storefronts or pharmacies. Still, the exterior elements and the history remain. The Claremont Theatre is a neo-Renaissance building that opened doors to the public in 1914 and was converted into an automobile showroom in 1933. Today, the spot at the corner of 135th Street and Broadway, is a storage facility. The building’s claim to fame? In 1915, Thomas Edison filmed a short film at the entrance of the former theater.
Upper Manhattan area of New York City is a hotbed of historically distinguished houses of worship. The churches and synagogues are scattered all through Harlem and into Inwood. In Manhattanville, there are three fantastic landmarks you must visit. The Old Broadway Synagogue was completed in 1911 and catered to the Orthodox Jewish community that immigrated from Russia and Poland in the 1880’s and the early part of the 1900’s. The St Mary's Protestant Episcopal Church on West 126th Street is a stone building that was built in 1824. The real importance of this location is that it houses the burial vault for Jacob and Hannah Schieffelin, major donors of the church, and principal founders of Manhattanville. The last stop on you religious building tour is the Church of St. Joseph of the Holy Family. The red-brick Romanesque Revival Catholic parish church was the home for many German immigrants in the 1860’s.
The nightlife in Manhattanville is impressive and underrated. There are several great craft cocktails and beer spots. The first is Solomon & Kaff. The rum bar has several signature cocktails that have become legendary such as the “Re Fashioned,” a take on the Old Fashioned (rum, benedictine, apple bitters). The Craftsman bar, located at 3155 Broadway, combines classic bar elements with the new wave creativity. They serve more than 18 beers on tap and several wonderfully curated cocktails. Still, the main attraction in the neighborhood is the Bierstrasse Harlem Beer Garden. The converted industrial boathouse is located under the 12th Avenue viaduct. The beer garden is vast and puts an emphasis on German beers, including Spaten Lager and Erdinger Dunkel Wessbier that could be served in a gigantic boot for $30.
As you gear up for you first dinner in Manhattanville, the choice should be quite easy. There’s the legendary Dinosaur BBQ, which has been widely considered the best BBQ spot in city. Situated in a two-story brick industrial building, Dinosaur BBQ is offers up tasty St. Louis style ribs that are dry rubbed and slow cooked. But they do offer much more like Korean-style ribs and incredibly tasty brisket. It does get pretty busy there during dinner service, so another option is Maison Harlem, which offers up authentic French bites and quite possibly the best mussels you will taste in NYC.