A Walk Along Riverside Drive
I usually run along the Hudson River pathway but sometimes I’ll start or end on Riverside Drive. I started spotting a few interesting things along Riverside Drive recently so I decided to walk about 50 blocks from the beginning of Riverside Drive (around 63rd Street) to Morningside Heights (where I live) and see what I could see. Here’s what I found…
At the base of Riverside Park is a statue and dedication to Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s said to be the first statue dedicated to the former president’s wife. The statue was dedicated in 1996 by Hillary Clinton.
The next building of interest that I spotted was what appeared to be an abandoned building, quite appropriate considering it is the month of Halloween, located at 86 Riverside Drive. The plaque outside said it was the Sino-American Amity. I did some digging on Google and this building has been a lot of things. It’s been a mansion to many, the home of two different Asian cultural organizations, and as well as the home to the headquarters for the royal consulate of Iraq. The last part of this article said it’d be divided into apartments, but it looked pretty shut down when I walked by.
Around 84th Street I took a detour into Riverside Park to see the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Plaza, dedicated to the victims in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. You can find people gathering here every April 19th, the anniversary of the uprising, to pay their respects to the people who died in the ghetto. According to the New York City Parks website, “buried beneath the plaque are two boxes containing soil from Terezin and Sered, two concentration camps in Czechoslovakia, and a scroll describing the defense of the Warsaw Ghetto, in both Hebrew and English, composed by the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.”
Continuing my stroll uptown, I came across a tiny red plaque on the building at 160 Riverside Drive between 88th and 89th Streets memorializing where famed theatre critic Brooks Atkinson once lived. Atkinson also currently has a theatre named after him on 45th Street.
If you keep heading a block north, you can’t miss the massive “Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Monument.” On Memorial Day in 1902 the monument was unveiled as a dedication to the soldiers of the Union Army and the sailors who served in the Civil War. Later in 1976 it was designated a city landmark. I wonder what took so long!
As I continued strolling, I stopped at a monument I’d passed on many runs before, the Joan of Arc Memorial. The bronze sculpture was created by the artist Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington and dedicated in 1915 to remember the heroism of St. Joan.
Another monument that you could miss if you walked by quickly is the Firemen’s Monument at Riverside Drive and 100th Street. Originally it was meant to be in Union Square, but it ended up being built uptown. It is a memorial to all the firemen in the city who have lost their lives while on duty. Each autumn, the mayor and hundreds of firemen in uniform gather here to pay their respects to those who have been lost.
Probably one of my favorite things that I discovered on my runs is the New York Buddhist Church on Riverside between 105th and 106th. It’s my favorite because there’s a statue outside that was survived the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima during World War II (!!!!). It is a statue of Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism.
At Riverside and 113th, you’ll find an unassuming statue of former New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden. While researching him, I discovered that the fortune he left behind after his death, plus his massive book collection, enabled the city to create the New York Public Library. That’s as good as any reason for a memorial statue, if you ask me.
The last thing place of note that I found wasn’t technically on Riverside Drive but it was neat and it’s close enough that I’m making an exception. The Bank Street School, on 112th Street, is where the writer Margaret Wise Brown – who wrote the beloved “Goodnight Moon” – got her education.
There are also dozens and dozens of absolutely gorgeous townhouses dotting the path along Riverside Drive but if I posted pictures of all of them, your browser would likely crash. So, in that case, I highly recommend you take your own stroll up Riverside Drive on the next nice day there is and enjoy the sights of the Upper West Side.