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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS

The highest elevated point in Manhattan, the place where George Washington’s troops fought the British during the Revolutionary war and the Little Dominica might not have a seeming connection but that sums up the three most interesting facts about Washington Heights. The neighbourhood packs a punch with its numerous top-notch ethnic eateries, hot dance clubs and the Latin music blaring out of the windows all day long. There are several museums for high-brow entertainment and plenty of parks for recreation. Washington Heights will leave lasting impressions on you.


A stone plaque placed in Bennett Park marks the highest natural point in Manhattan. During the Revolutionary war General Washington positioned his troops in a camp located in the area choosing it for its natural advantage over the enemy. Later to honour Washington the whole area was named after him. Throughout its history the area has experienced waves of immigrants who set up communities here. Greeks, Cubans, Puerto Ricans all claimed the neighbourhood at different times.


Today Dominicans are a dominant cultural influence. Dominican-owned eateries, street-food vendors, restaurants, cafes and night clubs make life here more colourful and exciting. Sumptuous aromas waft from local diners mixing in with the bachata rhythms that treble in the air. If you want to experience Latin American and Caribbean culture and food you needn’t catch a flight due south, instead head north into Washington Heights where the dining, drinking and nightlife options will not leave you bored for a second. You might even learn how to sway to bachata while you are here as dancing is quite the thing in local clubs. Sometimes street bands do gigs in the middle of the night so if you are going home late after drinks or dinner you might catch yet another show on your way home.


During the daytime the neighbourhood is much more sober. The United Palace Theater on 175th street has staged many rock concerts. Björk is among the world-famous musicians who have performed here. During the day, however, not a trace remains of the wild nights as the venue is transformed into a church. Once you have had your share of Latin and Caribbean food and music head to the Hispanic Society housed in five Beaux-Arts buildings. This easily overlooked museum is not as famous as some more centrally located Manhattan venues, yet its collection of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American art objects and artefacts is unrivalled. On display you can see a collection that encompasses thousands of items – decorative arts pieces, sculptures, paintings and prints. The museum highlights are works by El Greco, Velazquez and Goya. Another major landmark in the area is the Jumel Terrace Historic District, a collection of beautifully preserved 19th century houses and apartment buildings. Also part of the district is the mid-18th century house known as Morris-Jumel Mansion, notable for the fact that George Washington lived at this address during and after the Revolutionary War.


The Armory Track and Field Centre is one of the largest athletics facilities not only in the area but in the whole of New York, as well as a host of hundreds of sports events throughout the year. Columbia University’s medical school and campus are also situated in this area drawing a crowd of young students. Along the banks of the Hudson River the sprawling Fort Washington park offers beautiful riverside sceneries and a respite from the city. The neighbourhood is very well connected to the rest of Manhattan via subway trains. Best of all a journey into the heart of Manhattan takes only minutes.


The neighbourhood that occupies the northern parts of Washington Heights is known as Fort George and sometimes referred to as Hudson Heights. Check out our guide to Fort George for ideas on venues, attractions and events in the area worth visiting.


 

 

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