Walking the length of Broadway, New York

New York’s Broadway is a road that runs the entire length of the island of Manhattan (and continues through to the Bronx). Everyone has heard of Broadway, but before I first visited New York I just assumed it was the name of the theatre district.


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Ever since I discovered this geographic curiosity I have often thought about walking from top to bottom. When I was in Newport I casually told my hosts Kevin and Brigitte of my idea while we were pouring over the legendary New York Subway map. Far from thinking I was crazy, they thought is was a worthy challenge and wanted to come as well.

Being that it was summer we got started at 6am. It is already light at this time of year in New York and it was ideal walking weather.

We arrived at 210th St station to begin the walk. It turns out we should have started at 225th station as that is just next to the Broadway Bridge on the Bronx side of the river.

James at 225th St
At 225th St on the Bronx side of the Broadway Bridge.

On the subway there was a man with a bum bag in walking shoes who didn’t look like he had any business getting the train to the Bronx at 5.45 in the morning. He got out with us and started walking down Broadway as well, so I am not alone in wanting to walk Broadway. A quick search on google shows plenty of other Broadway walkers out there. I wonder how many people a day do this walk?

The walk took 6 hours and 45 minutes, which included breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks along the way. We had no time limit on our walk so we could stop as often as we wanted. Our only rule was that we had to stay on Broadway, so any enticing shop off Broadway would have to be noted and visited some other time.

Before this walk I had never been higher than 130th St. Seeing the grand parks and buildings in the 200′s was unexpected for me and it was interesting to see such a varied cross section of neighborhoods across the island. Walking Broadway is a great way to experience Manhattan.

Walking Broadway Photo Gallery

Isham Park
Montmartre or Manhattan? Isham Park in Inwood.

Broadway and Thayer
Fort Tryon Park.

125th St Station
125th St Station.

Tom's Restaurant
Tom’s Restaurant (as seen on Seinfeld.)

Ansonia Building
Grand apartment blocks of the Upper West Side (Ansonia Building).

Street Piano at Times Square
Street piano project at Times Square.

Broadway and Flatiron
The Flatiron building looks even flatter when you look straight down Broadway.

Broadway and Broome
Broadway and Broome in SoHo.

James at Number 1 Broadway
Finishing up at Number 1 Broadway.

Comments

  1. The Jetpacker says

    You walked Broadway and lived to tell about it? Walking Broadway is like being in a war zone in Afghanistan, but with way more street performers. Congrats on surviving. You’re more adventurous than we are.

  2. says

    @The Jetpacker I was wondering what it would be like so high up in Manhattan. All of my knowledge in Inwood and Washington heights had been formed by 70′s crime TV and film. One of my friends who lived in New York in the early 80′s said that I wouldn’t have been able to do that walk back then.

  3. says

    What a great idea, James! That sounds like it was an adventure. 6+ hours–that’s a heck of a walk. But certainly no different from going for a day hike in the mountains/woods, except flatter. What happens if it rains on the street piano, I wonder?

  4. says

    That’s brilliant! I’ve only walked about thirty blocks along Broadway at a time but doing the whole thing is such a unique way to explore. I might try this in other cities I visit – just pick the longest or most well-know street and walk from one end to the other.

    Great stuff James!

  5. says

    @Gray I thought it was going to be a long day but I also thought of it a day hike. I think the pianos were collected every night. They were pretty old ones anyway.

    @Earl I have walked 6+ hours in London, Paris and other big cities but they don’t have as easily definable boundary as Manhattan. Would be interested to see what long street you find.

    Another urban walker who I find inspirational is Will Self, who walks from airports, such as this JFK walk:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/books/06walk.html

  6. Donald Wilson says

    I walked Broadway in July. I started at Bowling Green Park at the southern tip and walked up Broadway to 225th Street in Marble Hill, just across the Harlem River. I spread my walk out over four days as I wanted to take my time and experience the different neighborhoods and other places in New York. I stopped in the Strand Book Store, Union Square, Madison Park, walked along Central Park West, explored the campus of Columbia University, and stopped in stores, coffee shops, and markets in Morningside Hieghts and Washington Heights. I visited with a number of people and all were very friendly and nice. My one regret is that I did not walk up the steps at Fort Tryon Park to the Cloisters. We visited the museum a few years ago and it would have been neat to come at it from a different direction. All in all I had a great experience. I have always found New Yorkers to be courteous and friendly and helpful. I want to do it again next summer. At 71 years of age I am glad I can still do things like this.
    One suggestion: On one of the days I went to the Hall of Fame of Famous Americans at Bronx Community College. It is about six blocks off the 183rd Street subway stop. Well worth the effort to go there.

  7. says

    Hi Donald, great to hear from a fellow Broadway walker! Thanks for sharing your age as well, I find that very inspiring.

    One of the considerations for me in planning this trip was the direction. North to South won out this time. Maybe I will try South to North another time. I like your idea of breaking it up as well. Everything above 160th is still unexplored for me so I want to go back another time and see more around there.

  8. Baldtraveler says

    I love the pics, especially the street piano project in times square. I’m planning my walk this saturday, Sept. 4. Wish me luck!

  9. Max says

    Hi there, cool thing to do.
    I´m from Sweden, and I´ve been thinking of this walk for a few years now.
    I´ve been to NY a couple of times, and last year I started from the bottom and finished at Times Sq.
    This time, I hope the weather-gods are with me, if so , I´ll follow your path, it will be in late january 2011.
    Nice pics as well.

  10. says

    @Max good luck with your walk. I once spent a winter in New York. I bit cold for my liking but a good incentive to keep walking.

    @Out walking the dog – thanks. I have thought about walking around the shoreline of Manhattan as well.

  11. says

    James, this is brilliant! Walking is the best way to discover any city, but New York in particular — there’s so much detail to process. Back when I was a college student at NYU, my friend and I would walk all over town using different major arteries as our path. Broadway is fascinating because of the architecture, but Third Avenue is my favorite for stores, color and people. Next time you’re in New York, try taking the Brooklyn Bridge across from South Street Seaport and wending your way over to Brooklyn Heights — takes about 3 hours, and it’s like walking through the history of America. (Then, you can sit down and have a beer.)

    • says

      Thanks Melanie. The Avenues are the next logical walk in the New York walk series, so many choices. On my last trip I wandered over to Brooklyn and realised how much I have been missing over there as well so i might have to do this walk as well next time around.

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