March 8, 2015

Hamilton Heights

Hamilton Heights is an architecturally stunning neighborhood located in the northern section of the borough of Manhattan.

by Nicole Haddad photographer Nicole Haddad

Considered part of West Harlem, the neighborhood's tree-lined streets are sandwiched between Manhattanville to the south at 135th Street, and Washington Heights to the north at 155th Street. The Hudson River forms the western boundary while Edgecombe Avenue takes up the east. Hamilton Heights is named for Alexander Hamilton-one of this country's founding fathers and its first Secretary of the Treasury-who lived in the area, then primarily farmland, the final two years of his life. In 1924, the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society purchased Hamilton's original Federal-style house (named "The Grange" after a family estate in Scotland) and turned it into a museum. The restored house-designated as a National Memorial in 1962-was moved in 2008 to St. Nicholas Park and was reopened to the public in 2011.

Cultural History: The beautiful brownstone and limestone row houses of Hamilton Heights became the backdrop for the remarkable cultural flowering known as the Harlem Renaissance, which spanned the 1920s and a bit beyond. This literary, artistic, and jazz-heavy period saw an influx of influential African-Americans to the area including W.E.B. DuBois, Aaron Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, and Count Basie. The northern part of the neighborhood became known as Sugar Hill on account of the elegant mansions and the "sweet life" experienced there.

Main Chik Boutique is located on Amsterdam Avenue.

Getting There: Multiple lines service the neighborhood, including the A, B, C or D trains to 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue and the 1 train to either the City College Station at 137th Street or to 145th Street and Broadway.

Education: Since 1907, Hamilton Heights has been home to the City College of New York (CCNY)-originally founded in 1847 as the Free Academy of the City of New York. Today, the neo-Gothic, supremely gorgeous George Browne Post-designed campus takes up 36 acres.

Green Space: The 28-acre Riverbank State Park rises 69-feet above the Hudson River and offers everything from an Olympic-size pool to tennis courts, a 400-seat amphitheater, and a football/soccer field.

Trivia: Alexander Hamilton died from a mortal gunshot wound during a duel with sitting Vice President Aaron Burr on July 11, 1804. Opened in 1993, Riverbank State Park sits atop a sewage treatment plant; it was constructed to pacify resident's protestations on having the plant built in their neighborhood.

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