St Nicholas Ave is a truly grand and majestic strip of real estate which my fairly grand neighborhood of Ditmas Park look like the ewok village. Past, present and future home of well to do Black people, nice parks, great real estate all the way to the meeting of Broadway at 160th St where the architecture humbles to basic tenements, the population is mainly Spanish speaking (Dominican) and the zoning changes from quite strictly residential to a lively jumble of shitty restaurants, discount stores and cell phone stores. I got a great map from an old people's home though.About the shitty restaurants- I tried to order a gyro at a pizza place, probably my first mistake and after waiting over ten minutes for it I left in a huff. I don't want to eat the gyro it takes ten minutes to make. After several more aborted attempts to have teenagers feed me fast food I stumbled delirious into a time warp. A hokey old fashioned Cuban eatery presided over by a hale old woman as her very elderly husband? dozed in front of the TV, intermittently woken by the sound of his own name attached to the junctions of her monologue.
It was still a bone dry piece of Cuban sandwich I received but at $4 including seat, who's complaining?
A lively place in the daytime, I have it on good authority that it rocks at night. Indeed it has a reputation for being the most violent and crime ridden part of Manhattan but reports may be exaggerated. It's a long old fucker of a road starting at 110th St and ending at 193rd St. I never did get to the end of it.
...and unlike in much of the rest of Manhattan where you have the smell of someone else's lunch blown through a vent at you while walking down the street, Washington Heights's wide and airy streets blow no fumes from the trough at you. I found it to be one of the more livable parts of Manhattan.
Except I did stumble into another dimension trying to find my way home- a wee mixed white/ mixed enclave carved out of Washington Heights at 181st St which calls itself Hudson Heights. It even had a wine store that sold only wine- no liquor! Also a sushi place that wasn't part of a Chinese restaurant- a true gauge of fanciness. People looked at me funny here as I trolled for maps where they mostly ignored me in Washington Heights proper. I saw a great map in a locked building, I wanted to break the window but that would have been silly, wouldn't it?