The Historic District of Hamilton Heights
Hamilton Heights is a small but charming sub-division of Washington Heights. It’s brownstone-lined streets and culturally rich history are ideal for those who wish to find a quiet place without leaving the city behind. Hamilton Heights is home to renowned cultural institutions, beautiful parks, and the lovely Sugar Hill district. Find out more about this historic neighborhood by reading below!
photo credit: Reporter d’ailleurs_flickr
The area surrounding the district of Hamilton Heights is bordered by 135th St. to the South, Riverside Drive to the West, 155th St. to the North, and Edgecombe Avenue to the East. The neighborhood’s name comes from one of the nation’s founding fathers, the first Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
Hamilton spent the last few years of his life residing in Washington Heights. Back then, much of Upper Manhattan was still considered to be rural and Hamilton enjoyed the slower pace of life it offered. He had his own country retreat which now stands as a memorial called the Hamilton Grange National Monument. The monument can be found on 414 W. 141st St and features a thorough exhibit on Hamilton’s life. Other notable figures that have resided in Hamilton Heights include civil rights activist Malcolm X, painter Norman Rockwell, and composer George Gershwin.
photo credit: jim-henderson-_-wikicommons
The streets of Hamilton Heights are lined up with historic brownstones and row houses. Many of the apartments found here are spacious and the buildings were designed after the Romanesque and Beaux-Arts movements. They were mostly built between the late 1800’s and the 1930’s. Religious institutions such as the churches of St. Luke, Covent Avenue Baptist, and St. James Presbyterian display more of a Gothic style and were inspired by European architecture. Hamilton Heights is considered to be a National Historic District by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Much of Hamilton Heights has always been culturally diverse. Many first-time immigrants would find a home north of Central Park after arriving from Europe. In the past decades, the neighborhood has attracted more immigrants of Hispanic origin. As a result, many Latin restaurants and taquerias have cropped up.
The neighborhood is also home to renowned cultural institutions such as the City College of New York, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and The Harlem School for the Arts. An 11-acre park, Riverbank State Park, overlooks the Hudson River on the western edge of the district. This giant park opened its doors in 1993 and sits 69 feet atop sea level. It has the largest green roof in all of NYC and an Olympic-sized swimming pool which is used by professional swimming teams and athletes. Riverbank Park also has a softball field, a basketball court, a tennis court, and even an ice-skating rink during the wintertime. The park’s located on the West Side Highway from 137th St. to 145th St.
photo credit: jim-henderson_-wikicommons
A historic sub-district inside of Hamilton Heights called Sugar Hill extends from West 155th St. to the North, West 145th St. to the South, Edgecombe Avenue to the East, and Amsterdam Avenue to the West. Sugar Hill got its name from being the home of many of the city’s most prominent African-Americans. They moved in during the Harlem Renaissance and were enamored by the sweet lifestyle the area offered.
photo credit: beyond-my-ken_wikicommons
Sugar Hill’s known for its spectacular row houses and grand estates that once belong to influential figures such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, pianist Duke Ellington, and jazz singer Cab Calloway. The Bailey House, built in 1888, features an impeccable Romanesque Revival Style. The house was designed for circus magnate James Anthony Bailey. It is now a designated NYC Landmark for its unique history and can be found on 10 St. Nicholas Place. Sugar Hill’s history of prominence and wealth can be still seen today throughout it’s grand streets and magnificent architecture.
photo credit: beyond-my-ken-_-wikicommons
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Edgar is a a film fanatic, a food lover, and an Upper West Side enthusiast. After working in PR and marketing in Chicago, he is pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. He loves photography and on his spare time you can find him hiking or biking the great outdoors (while also snapping some pretty awesome Instagram pics!).