“Because it’s there.” Those were the words spoken by George Mallory, famed British mountaineer, when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest. While Broadway is not Everest, it is there, so why not walk the walk?
During the walk, I used voice notes on the Notes app to jot down thoughts throughout the day; these notes form the basis of the following walking journal entry.
April 2nd, 2023
It is 15 minutes before six and the two of us are planning on walking the whole length of Broadway. Know that this is not an April Fool’s joke – that was yesterday.
The street of Broadway starts way up near the village of Sleepy Hollow and the town of Tarrytown, winds down through the city of Yonkers and the borough of The Bronx, and crosses over as a bridge to Manhattan. Broadway Street then transverses the whole length of Manhattan Island from north to south. In terms of the route distance, approximately 18 miles of the street are north of Manhattan whereas the remaining 13 miles are within the borough itself. So all of that is saying that we have a lot of walking ahead of us today.
The first stop is walking to the 6 at 59th and Lexington Avenue. The weather outside is chilly, around 40 degrees with lively gusts of crosswind. Otherwise, it’s a pretty pleasant day to start a walk. From the 6, we will go down to Grand Central Terminal and then take the Hudson Line up to Philipse Manor.
We took the 6:17 AM train on the Croton Hudson line, stopping at Philipse Manor. After arriving, we took a quick Uber to just outside Phelps Hospital Northwell Health and then walked to the start of Broadway Street under a bridge at a nearby intersection.
Curiously, Broadway Street and US Route 9 are contiguous. Rather, Broadway Street is but a named section of a highway that runs in its entirety 523 miles (841 km) in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.
For the first while we walked along the shoulder of the road – there wasn’t much space, but we made it happen. We passed by the Sleepy Hollow cemetery, and after a little longer of walking, we reached the town of Tarrytown. Tarrytown is also known for its association with the writer Washington Irving, who spent much of his life here.
One important historic event that occurred in the town was the capture of Major John André by three Patriots during the American Revolution. There is a fascinating story behind the story of his capture and subsequent execution by hanging.
In September 1780, near the western bank of the Hudson River, at a point now termed the “Treason Site,” André and then Major General Benedict Arnold conspired to turn over Fort Clinton (West Point) over to the British. There are many potential factors considered by historians for this betrayal, including ties to the British via Arnold’s wife and feelings of being spurned for promotion within the Revolutionary Army.
On 9 AM on September 23rd, André rode into Tarrytown whereupon he was stoped by three militiamen.
Mistaking the men for Tories, André asked “Gentlemen, I hope you belong to our party.”
“What party?” asked one of the men.
“The lower party,” responded André, meaning the British. When the militiamen assented, André revealed that he was a British officer, but the men then told him they were Continentals and he was their prisoner. Taken into custody, the officer was interrogated and ultimately was hung for espionage at Tappan, New York, on October 2nd.
In his last days, André carried himself with utmost poise and dignity. Alexander Hamilton, then an officer in the Continental Army, spoke of him highly: “Never perhaps did any man suffer death with more justice, or deserve it less.”
We were a quarter of the way in, and each town thus far was quaint, peaceful, and pleasant to walk through.
Passing by one of the local schools, Mercy College, I came up with a joke:
What do you call a big cat that dresses really nice?
Answer: A dandelion
We made a pitstop at a local Stop & Shop to use the restroom and pick up a box of Cheez-It, a pair of apple turnovers, a bottle of Starbucks coffee, and a box of Tic Tac.
While in the village of Hastings-on-Hudson, we came across an intersection with a nearby Foodtown. We realized that this was the same store we went to while making a detour from the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.
At the southernmost aspect of Hastings-on-Hudson, Broadway Street branches into two paths. We walked on the western branch against traffic as there was no shoulder to walk on.
Walking further in Yonkers, we saw looming over the horizon a gray monolithic mass that upon closer inspection contained peaks and points evocative of a distant skyline.
The two of us debated whether or not this was the Manhattan skyline, or if it was part of downtown Yonkers. I argued that since we had 8 miles to go until we reached Manhattan itself, it was probably not part of the New York skyline, but she asserted that it was.
Broadway runs several miles along the length of Yonkers. The street of North Broadway runs parallel to the Hudson River, approximately 200 to 300 yards to the west. There were brisk winds blowing from the river, but the buildings blocked most of the wind and made for a pleasant-weather walk. To be truthful, while we were in Yonkers, we focused more on staying vigilant of our surroundings; the two of us even carried a pocketknife apiece in case things went awry. Thankfully, though some neighborhoods were rougher on the edges, and we were clearly not locals, no one accosted us.
As we passed by Van Cortlandt Park, after walking, through miles of low rises, grocery store, fronts and general commercial and housing projects, I finally realized that skyscrapers did not exist in Yonkers, and that the gray skyline indeed was that of Manhattan.
We began to see early signs that we had reached The Bronx with the presence of a few MTA bus stations. The cross-streets began to be numbered starting from the high 260s, meaning we needed to walk 260 more blocks before we reached First Street.
South of 240th Street, the MTA 1 line runs above ground parallel to Broadway Street. Now 17 1/2 miles in, we decided to make a stop at McDonald’s for a twenty-minute lunch and bathroom break. The two of us got a Double Cheeseburger, a Filet-o-Fish, and a twenty-piece chicken McNuggets.
After lunch, we walked for thirty more minutes before reaching the Marble Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, one of the few neighborhoods of the borough not located on the island. The reason that Marble Hill is associated with Manhattan, and not its contiguous borough of The Bronx, is that it was once part of Manhattan Island before the construction of the Harlem Ship Canal in 1895. For the next twenty years, Marble Hill was an island between the two boroughs until the Harlem River was diverted north of Marble Hill in 1914; the resulting landfill would fully connect the neighborhood to The Bronx.
Finally across the bridge to Manhattan Island, we were greeted by the beautiful Fort Tryon Park at 196th and Broadway. We made steady progress through Washington Heights, and by 3 PM we were at 152nd street with about 9 miles to go.
On the course of walking 260 streets, one cannot help but gauge the width of each street as we walked past. Walking past 129th street, we were filled with a momentary gleam of hope as the street number jumped from 129 to 125; reality then hit us full-force as the street from 125 to 124 felt like an avenue and a half.
We took another detour at Columbia University’s undergraduate campus, stopping by at the main lawn and then the bookstore.
I have to say – Columbia Bookstore is really quite nice. Branding is on point.
We hit 100th Street at the stroke of 4 PM. Manhattan Island slopes downwards from northwest to southeast, and we found that walking was straightforward even with a pair of legs that have grown progressively heavier throughout the day.
At 72nd Street, Broadway makes a slight turn to the right to accommodate the 72nd Street Subway station. We sat down on a couple of park benches to rest for a moment before continuing. A few blocks later, there is a wacky intersection where Amsterdam and Broadway cross-cross.
Of course there was the logjam at Times Square. I must have seen seven or eight of those spinning selfie gizmos. We bypassed the area as fast as we could and then stopped at a Shakeshack for a restroom break.
We passed by Grace Church on 10th Steet and Broadway at 5:50 PM as it began tolling its bells.
By 6 PM, we finally reached Houston Street with only 1.5 miles to go to our destination.
We decided to celebrate our walk by grabbing dinner. The restaurant was only a mile and a half away, but there was no way we would take another unnecessary step.
The walk began at 7:30 AM and concluded at 6:30 PM. According to the Strava activity log, we covered 34.00 miles over 10 hours, five minutes of moving time.
I would not encourage anyone to repeat this route – certain portions of the route lack a sidewalk to walk upon, and there are stretches of Broadway Street that are not in the most pleasant neighborhoods.
However, if you do choose to walk the walk, then put on some comfortable clothing, a pair of well-fitting shoes, and find a great walking buddy to make the trip worthwhile!