Manhattan’s Best Kept Secret

Vaqar Ahmed has a recommendation: Inwood

Manhattan’s Best Kept Secret
The island of Manhattan, the heart of New York City, is like a conjurer that keeps pulling out surprises from a hat. Even for a hardened New Yorker, Manhattan can produce a rabbit from nowhere. One such rabbit is called Inwood.

Never heard of it? Not surprising. Neither had I, even after visiting Manhattan about twenty times. But I knew there must be something interesting about this place as my brother and his wife decided to buy their first (and they intend it to be the last) apartment in Inwood after having spent nearly forty years in various cities in the USA and abroad.


Getting to Inwood is straightforward: you get on one of the most frequent subway trains, the A, from say, Penn Station, located on 7th Ave and 34th East Street. If you get lost inside Penn Station looking for the platform for the A train, you would have joined a million other hapless tourists who pass through this utterly confusing maze of passages, concourses and levels. On a recent trip I met a friend at the same restaurant inside Penn Station four times and each time I got lost. Anyway, let’s assume that you have somehow found your way to the A train platform. Take the train going uptown and go off to sleep if you want to because Inwood is the last station on the line that is called Inwood-207 Street/Broadway.

Take the North West exit from the subway station, turn left and walk for a hundred yards and you will see a winding path going up.  Take it and you are in the huge Inwood Park. Here you will find hills with tall trees, lovely green areas where you can set-up your barbecue and walk along the banks of the Hudson River. Frequently, a music performance or an outdoor movie show is taking place. Thanks to the very dynamic Inwood Art Works, a community group run by some very dedicated and involved residents, it is all free. It is for good reason that they say the best things in life are free. You can walk for miles among the paths in the hill and never suspect that you are in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Once you have had your fill of fresh air and exercise, stroll down to the lively Van Dyck Avenue, where you will find inviting bars and restaurants with a spirited clientele from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

So the next time you visit the Big Crazy Apple, after you have done your Times Square, the Empire State Building, Staten Island Ferry Ride, 9/11 Memorial and you are feeling world-weary, head out for Inwood Park and breathe in the healing fresh air and the balm of greenery. Finally, when sweetly tired, enjoy some refreshments on the charming Van Dyck Avenue to cap off the day.