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Fort George, Hudson Heights

FORT GEORGE (Hudson Heights)

A small stone plaque placed in Bennett Park marks the highest elevated point in Manhattan. When George Washington positioned his camp here, he clearly intended to occupy the most strategic position in Manhattan, i.e. the highest point on the island which offered good views of enemy manoeuvres. Today the area is known as Washington Heights, while the small neighbourhood that occupies its northern reaches from 181st street up to Dyckman street is known as Fort George.


The northern reaches of Manhattan have been an enclave of Latin American and Caribbean communities for decades. Life here is loud and colourful, complete with ethnic restaurants, street-food vendors and services which allure with delightful aromas and exotic beats, while at nightfall people sway to the rhythms of bachata in the local nightclubs. Life in Fort George is much more subdued than that. Only the area east of Broadway has a Hispanic feel, while the western portion of the neighbourhood’s population is predominantly Jewish. The Yeshiva University lies at the heart of the Jewish community, while the numerous students and young people who attend it create a lively atmosphere in this otherwise quiet suburb.


The serenity of the neighbourhood is complemented by the tranquillity of Fort Tryon Park. A vast stretch of groves and fields that sprawls along the steep banks of the Hudson river, the park offers breathtaking views of the lush New Jersey Palisades on the opposite bank. When you feel famished head to the New Leaf restaurant. Situated in a restored period building the restaurant offers diners ample indoor and outdoor space, a rich cocktail menu and dishes sourced from fresh local ingredients.


Travel back in time and space at The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that houses its European Medieval Art collection. The building bears striking resemblance to Medieval European architecture so visitors are not that surprised to hear that various parts were brought from French cloisters all the way to the new world and incorporated into the museum’s structure. Ornamented stained glass windows, intricately carved gates, capitals and columns embellish the building which also boasts its own Medieval garden. The collection on display inside contains thousands of archaeological finds, art objects, armour pieces, jewellery and rare tapestries.


The Medieval Festival held at Fort Tryon Park every autumn is a truly fun fair to attend. Participants and visitors dressed in period costumes re-enact scenes and events from Medieval life and history, while actors and performers entertain the crowd with music, dance, theatre and song – all Medieval of course. There is even a mock knight tournament! Costumes and food are sold by vendors, so you should not worry about leaving hungry or without fitting souvenirs to bring home. Best of all, the event is free for all.


The neighbourhood has several nice Jewish delis and restaurants. Latin American and Caribbean cuisines are very well represented in this part of town with some excellent Mexican, Venezuelan and Dominican restaurants interspersed throughout the area. Although nightlife is not that lively around the block you will find enough restaurants and bars to satisfy your appetite. The Locksmith Wine bar is ideal for sampling wines but if you prefer to sip craft pints on tap head to the Buddha Beer Bar. The area is worth exploring during the day as well. There are lots of ethnic shops and delis selling gourmet goodies from various parts of the world and different cuisines.


Fort George is a very affordable and tranquil neighbourhood that attracts lots of families drawn by these characteristics rarely found in other parts of Manhattan. You can stay here on the cheap, explore local attractions and still benefit from quick access to the rest of New York. The subway has lots of stops throughout the neighbourhood making a commute to other parts of Manhattan real quick.