This weekend's walk was uptown again - I did some of South Harlem (W 110th - W. 124th west of Lenox Ave.), pretty much all of Morningside Heights, and a few more blocks of the Upper West Side. It ended up being a two day walk - as I was walking through Columbia at about W 117th St. the a big thunderstorm rolled through and I decided it might be a good time to head home. All in all about 17 miles.
Harlem was originally a Dutch farming village in the New Amsterdam era and remained mostly agricultural through the mid-1800's. As it began to develop, the area was home to large Italian and Jewish immigrant populations, but a housing crash in 1904 led to a major influx of African American residents, paving the way for the eponymous "Harlem Renaissance".
To the west of Harlem, up on a bluff, is Morningside Heights. The area was home to the Revolutionary War Battle of Harlem Heights, which Washington fought (and won) after his retreat from the Battle of Long Island. Notable landmarks in the neighborhood are Columbia University, which was founded in 1754 as Kings' College and originally located downtown near present-day City Hall. For reasons unknown to history they changed the name in 1784. A number of other higher education institutions are nearby, including Barnard College and a couple of seminaries.
Of final note, although St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown often gets the top billing in the guidebooks, the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine. (W. 112th & Amsterdam Ave.) is significantly larger (the largest in North America and fourth largest in the world, in fact). It was originally designed in a Byzantine/Romanesque style (think domes and roman arches) and construction began in 1892, but the plans changed in 1909 and the powers that be decided that they wanted a Gothic cathedral instead. Construction was still underway as recently as 2001, when a fire damaged the north transept, and so the cathedral remains an unfinished mish-mash of architectural styles (ever hear the Johnny Cash song, "One Piece at a Time"?). While you get the sense that the cathedral still doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up, it is very pretty and impressive.