Adventure

3 Must See Structures in Morningside Heights

By Seth Fera-Schanes

Let’s say you have been to New York City before.  You have seen Times Square, attended a Broadway play, spent time with the Pharaohs in the Egyptian wing of the Met and sat at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park and watched the boats peacefully glide across the pond and then bump into each because no one knows who to steer those things apparently.

Let’s say you have lived in the city for a number of months or years.  You have left your apartment at midnight to go to the bars and in a euphoric stupor, stumbled home as the sun rose behind you.  You have done brunch and know where to find all the booziest deals.  You have seen more than one comedy show or improve at the PIT.  You own the subway system and can give people directions without hesitation.

If you find yourself in either of these categories, it is time to go beyond your typical day out in the city.  It is time for tourists to venture beyond midtown.  It is time for the city dweller to get up at 7am on a Saturday (gasp) put on their walking shoes and see something new around this city.

Something new can be found in Morningside Heights on 122nd street and Riverside Drive.  There are 3 monumental structures you should visit.  Partly because I am recommending them (I actually do this tour quite a bit) but mostly because they are really cool places.

Grant’s Tomb.  The Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President and his wife are interred there.  Not many people can say they have been and it is accessible off the 1 train and a short walk.  Here is something else, it is the largest mausoleum in North America.

grants-tomb

Grant’s Tomb

We are off to a good start to my tour so far, right?

Step outside Grant’s Tomb and look east and up.  You are now staring directly at Riverside Church, the tallest church in the United States.  You literally cross the street and can walk right inside.  Beautiful stained glass and a reflective space make this a nice second stop on the tour.

To recap, we have just covered two historic places and mixed in a largest and tallest of something all within 200 feet of each other.

Riverside Church

Riverside Church

Now get your walking shoes on and head southeast 3/4 of a mile (approximately 14 minutes) to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

Pause across the street to just take in the facade and take a few pictures while you are standing there as well.  Walk across the street, up the stairs and enter the church.

It is a cavern.  A beautiful, immense, 100 plus year old beautiful place.  It is the 1st or 2nd (there is an ongoing debate over size) largest Anglican church in the world.  It is the 4th largest Christian church in the world.  The ceiling is 124 feet high.  The numbers are impressive. Standing in the middle of the church is more so.

What makes the cathedral my favorite place in the city is the grounds are open to the public and which also happen to be the home of two peacocks who very much like to have their picture taken.  They also really don’t want to be bothered by pigeons and spread out their tail features if one is too close (which makes for some great photo opportunities.)

peacock at saint john the divine cathedral

Peafowl in NYC

There you have it.  3 historic structures all within less than a mile of each other.  All accessible by New York City public transit.  All very worth your time whether you are new to the city or have lived here 9.5 years.

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