Upper West Side history walk

Take a tour uptown to see historic churches, monuments and famous delis.

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  • The Riverside Church

  • The Riverside Church

  • Grant's tomb

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Barney Greengrass

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    The Dakota

The Riverside Church


Start: 490 Riverside Dr between 120th and 122nd Sts
End:
72nd St at Central Park West
Time:
2.5 hours
Distance:
3.2 miles

1 New York City is filled with history, but the Upper West Side is particularly saturated: Begin at The Riverside Church (490 Riverside Dr between 120th and 122nd Sts; 212-870-6700, theriversidechurch.org), which was modeled after a 13th-century Gothic cathedral in Chartres, France. The holy house was also the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" speech, delivered exactly one year before his assassination. Expand your knowledge during a free tour of the facility (Sun 12:30pm).

2 Across the street, Riverside Park (Riverside Dr to Hudson River, W 59th St to Clair Pl; 212-870-3070, riversideparkfund.org) beckons. The Frederick Law Olmsted--designed waterfront space, which opened in 1875, contains a bevy of bygone gems: At the General Grant National Memorial (Riverside Dr at 122nd St; 212-666-1640), you'll finally find out who's buried in Grant's tomb. (Hint: It's not just the former President.) Constructed of more than 8,000 tons of white granite, the structure is also among the world's largest mausoleums. Other monumental items in the park include the Firemen's Memorial (Riverside Dr at 100th St), a bronze sarcophagus that's the site of an annual memorial service for fallen firefighters, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument (Riverside Dr at 89th St), a circular temple built in 1902 to honor Union troops who fought in the Civil War.

3 Barney Greengrass (541 Amsterdam Ave between 86th and 87th Sts; 212-724-4707, barneygreengrass.com) has been a neighborhood institution for more than 100 years. The deli has made cameos in Sex and the City and 30 Rock, and counts Jerry Seinfeld and Alec Baldwin among its regulars. Try the famed smoked sturgeon with eggs and onions ($17).

4 As you make your way south, stop to admire the facade of The Dakota (1 W 72nd St at Central Park West). Erected in 1884, the building earned its name, according to legend, because its location was then as remote as the Dakota Territory. The notoriously exclusive co-op was the setting for Rosemary's Baby, but it's best known as the site of John Lennon's 1980 assassination. Beatles fans can pay tribute to the late, great musician at the Strawberry Fields memorial, across the street in Central Park.


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