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Walk This Way: A Walking Tour of The Upper West Side’s Riverside Park

(NYC Trend) — Warm weather, cool breezes off the Hudson River and your favorite snack and/or beverage equals a day of adventure in New York City. Where? The Upper West Side. When? Now! How? Easy. Grab this guide, a pair of comfortable shoes and let’s check out Riverside Park South’s 72nd Street area.

Riverside Park, established in 1872, is a scenic, public park that borders the Hudson River. The Park runs from 72nd Street and Riverside Drive to 129th Street. This article will focus on fun, fab and (mostly) free things to do in the 72nd street area. Did anyone say “Instagram-worthy selfies”? 

First, some background: Riverside Park is part of the thirty-two mile- long Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a pedestrian and bicycle route around Manhattan’s waterfront. This path, which winds past some of the locations mentioned below, may also be followed uptown to the George Washington Bridge. The path ends downtown, in an area in Battery Park, near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. However, one may continue on foot and/or bike to Brooklyn using another path.

Now that we’ve explored some background, let’s get started. The closest subway to Riverside Park’s 72 Street entrance is the 1-2-3 train to 72nd street and Broadway. After exiting the train, walk West, down 72 street. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of restaurants where you may stop for a meal or snack. Or, if you’d like to pack a picnic, pick up take-out. Looking for Kosher? Try Fischer Brothers and Leslie, a butcher shop, with a selection of tasty prepared foods. There’s also my most favorite food, a casual, Kosher dairy restaurant and bakery with lots of choices, including To-Go Boxed Lunch. Another choice: Giacomo’s Fine Foods located at the end of 72 Street. It’s a cozy, super-friendly (non-kosher but veggie options) take-out place. Shop small! Support these great, local places. Giacomo’s is situated next to Master Bike Shop. They offer bike rentals, if you’d prefer to peddle. Either way, keep walking/riding down 72 to the park entrance, just a short distance away.  

Our first stop in the Park is at the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Statue. Hang out on the grass and enjoy your picnic (or wait and find a spot closer to the water). When you’re ready, pass the statue, keep walking and soon, on your left, you’ll arrive at the 72nd street Dog Run. If you brought along your furry friend/s, stop and play. If not, it’s still a shady spot to watch the dogs and enjoy nature, all to a chorus of yips and barks. There’s no better summertime symphony.

After your bark-tastic hang out, keep walking and arrive at the top of the stone steps. Stop for a while and enjoy the expansive view of the Hudson, with Edgewater, NJ on the other side. Snap a few selfies and then continue down the steps or the paved path, to the waterfront, where you may wish to enjoy your picnic and/or the view. After that, make a left and pass benches, a baseball diamond and, shortly after, the Pier i Cafe. This casual, outdoor eatery boasts umbrellas and river views. Place your order, pick it up at the counter, then relax under an umbrella and check out the jet skis, yachts, tugs and sailboats on the Hudson. Or, take your food to-go and enjoy it on the 72nd Street pier. Throughout the summer, this pier is usually home to a country fair, movie nights, music and other activities. After lunch, leave the Pier and make a left and stop at the Transfer Bridge. At this site, railcars would be connected to tracks that attached to freight trains running up and down Manhattan’s west side. This was formerly New York Central Railroad. Located near a grassy lawn, with great views of the Hudson, it’s both a piece of old New York City history and a great place to relax. Plus, there’s a commemorative plaque. 

Next, pass the restrooms, then take the steep, paved path out of the park to another, more kid-friendly railway experience: the Little Engine Playground. Hang out in the playground, or the shady benches surrounding the area. If you’re thirsty after your climb or want to chill in some free A/C, make sure to stop into Jubilee Marketplace, on Riverside Boulevard. Pass Jubilee, keep walking and at the end of the block cross the street. That’s where you’ll find the memorial plaque for slain civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael (Micky) Schwerner. Located at the corner of Freedom Place and 70th street, the small plaque opens a large window into history both powerful and vital. The events continue to resonate today. Two of these students, Goodman and Schwerner, were New Yorkers. The other student, Chaney, was their co-worker. All three were killed by the Klu Klux Klan. This took place in Mississippi in 1964 during Freedom Summer. The film Mississippi Burning was based on Freedom Summer and the three men. June 21, 2020 marked the 56th anniversary of the death of these brave Americans who “Gave their lives for the unending struggle for freedom and democracy.”

You may keep walking up the hill to Broadway, make a left and catch the subway or hop the 72nd street crosstown bus (the bus stop is just a few feet away from the memorial plaque). 

For all activities/events/locations/eateries—please call first to confirm hours and other information.

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