A walk down Broadway

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2016

Yesterday, in need of a chance to think, inspired by a friend's recent long run, and in celebration of no longer being sick (mostly), I took the A train up to the last stop at 207th St, got out, and started walking down Broadway. Some observations:

When we first moved to NYC in late 2002, Meg and I did an "urban bushwhack" in Manhattan, very much like the one described here. We hiked around upper Manhattan for 15 miles — the heel on my right foot hurt for months afterwards — but it remains one of the best activities I've ever done in the city.

Broadway is the oldest north/south road in NYC. It was originally a Native American trail called Wickquasgeck. Today, even though it runs the length of the island, I'm not sure it's in any way representative of Manhattan or NYC as a whole. As a main thoroughfare, it's mostly businesses; there's very little in the way of residential.

I walked past approximately 50,000 nail salons, most of them north of 125th St. Also a lot of tax prep places up there, although I don't know if that's seasonal or what.

I totally forgot to jog over a couple of blocks in the 140s to see the house from The Royal Tenenbaums and Alexander Hamilton's house. :(

Times Square was the worst stretch of Broadway by a wide margin.

The weather was nice and for a stretch in the 120s, 130s, and 140s, people were out sitting on the sidewalks, eating, playing dominos, shooting the shit. I passed a group of guys talking about the Bulls/Knicks rivalry from the late 80s and early 90s, about whether Scottie Pippen was actually a good player.

The increasing number of chain stores and restaurants as you travel south is striking. Relatively speaking, Manhattan below 86th St. is all chains.

I ended up stopping at Houston...my legs were getting kinda sore and I didn't want to push my luck. I walked home from there, which as I look at the map now, turns out to be about the same distance as if I would have walked the rest of the way down Broadway. Oh well. Perhaps next time. 200+ blocks and about 10.7 miles total.