RICH BUNNELLI have to say, when I was charting out this trip, I was erroneously operating under the assumption that New York didn’t have hills. I knew Staten had its share, but I had no idea I’d come out of the Bronx feeling like the recipient of a blanket party! But I managed to persevere and push forth into Manhattan, ending up with a daily total of 17.5 miles and an overall total of 41.1 miles. Awwww yee-uh.
I decided to split up the Bronx into two walks, because geographically the borough can easily be divided into chunks that connect to other boroughs. This time I took the red line to Van Cortlandt Park, given that it’s a big, prominent, mysterious green spot at the end of a major NYC subway route. The map lover’s mind is fun like that.
One thing I found out quickly about New York is that just because a location is labeled as a “park” on a map doesn’t mean that it’s well-maintained, or even easily accessible. Hey, it’s a huge city — these are the breaks. But Van Cortlandt Park is too big to falter, featuring a running track of a scale I’ve never seen at an East Bay park.
Because this a mostly suburban sliver of the Bronx — I even spent a couple of blocks in Yonkers(!) — I mostly stayed near the trees in the quiet Riverdale neighborhood. My path down to Manhattan zigzagged through Riverdale Park, which runs along most of the western Bronx waterfront. It’s not a particularly nice-looking park, but it’s a serene stretch of land, and to be fair, nothing is in bloom this time of year.
To my dismay, the Henry Hudson Bridge was closed to pedestrian access, so I found a pedestrian stairwell that pointed toward the more accessible Broadway Bridge. From there, my adventures in Manhattan are sadly just a story of “walk forward,” with the occasional pit stop for water or orange juice. I covered a lot of ground, but a lot of what Manhattan has to offer at night is indoors, so I decided to call it a day a couple of hours after the sun set and wrapped up my journey at the 79th and Broadway subway station.
But traversing the endless grid was worth it for the prize at the end: brisket on rye at the 2nd Avenue Deli! I normally go 50/50 on eating the pickles that come with my meal, but these gherkins feel like they’re from a different, better planet. Last time I visited the deli, 1) it was actually on 2nd Avenue (unforeseen circumstances forced the owners to move) and 2) I goyishly ordered the brisket as a “breast of beef” instead of by its proper name. But not this time! Hunger solved!