I got up much too late, felt just sleepy. It’s either the heat or the humidity or the remainders of that inflammation at my leg. The latter one felt so much better today, so I decided to get active again.
After breakfast I hurried up to get out into the heat to walk the last part of my still unfinished literary walk through Harlem. The last bit took me northwest, up the hill to Sugar Hill in Hamilton Heights.
It is pretty incredible how steep the streets next to St. Nicholas Park are.
It is incredible as well what they are doing to historic buildings. My walk described Hamilton Grange, a mansion where Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders of the United States had spent his last years. It should be found behind a church on Convent Avenue. But there was no mansion. I had seen an unexplained mansion in St. Nicholas Park however, when I walked uphill. When I googled it later I found out that it had been moved in 2006. It was the houses second move. In 1889 it had been moved from Greenwich Village to Hamilton Heights. Crazy!
I followed Convent Avenue north to 145th street, passing beautiful houses, Brownstones mainly. Hamilton Heights and particularly Sugar Hill used to be upscale black neighborhoods. The Strom family in Richard Powers’ novel “Time of our Singing” lived there.
145th street took me back down to Harlem. On my way I walked into an African Caribbean everything Shop where you can buy Halal met as well as goat’s milk soap, big bags of rice and dried beans and colorful clothing. A black woman in high heels tried sandals. I liked the sandals. They carried a huge flower with leaves in different colors and copper rivets on it. She tried another pair with huge pearls. I was watching her and she asked me which ones I liked better. I told her the first pair looks better and she got them. I checked for another pair in my size, but there were just big sizes. Do black women have bigger feet? I went into a 99c store to see if they are different here than the ones in Greenpoint. They are. The same kind of stuff is on sale there but adjusted to the local needs. You could not get coconut shampoo in Greenpoint.
My book, written in 1997, said that 145th street would take me back to devastated Harlem with burnt and decayed buildings. Well, Harlem has changed.
I went home, had a fruit salad with yoghurt and iced coconut water for lunch, cooled my ankle, did some work and left for downtown. The Tenement Museum had a tasting this evening. Immigrant foods. I had to realize that getting to the Lower East Side is much easier from Greenpoint than it is from Harlem. I took the 2 train all the way down to Fulton Street and the Z to Delancey Street from there. The 2 runs express and does not stop everywhere but nevertheless it takes some time. Transfer at Fulton Street is crazy. I got a discounted ticket and had a chat in German with the guy who sold it to me. He had studied in Tübingen.
I walked up Orchard Street to get this week’s Time Out magazine. No newsstands around there. Where do they buy magazines? Not at all? In Midtown?
The tasting started at 6:30 with a visit to the tenement building at 97 Orchard to see the Rogarshevsky family’s apartment and talk about their kitchen. The family had immigrated from Lithuania in 1901 and lived a one bedroom apartment with 6 children. The tasting came up with food from different immigrant countries, starting with pretzels and potato salad (Germany) and ended with peanut noodles and dumplings (China). We as well had pickles, Italian cheese and ham and fried plantains (and wine was free). It was really good. The other people were a couple from California, a woman from Wisconsin and a family from British Columbia, Canada. All of them having an immigrant background.
After the tasting I walked crosstown on Canal Street all the way to 6th Avenue to catch the 1 train there and thus avoid the complicated transfer. Walking on Canal Street at night is interesting. The vendors of fake fragrances and watches are packing their wares away. Fish has already left the streets. Police cars are howling. Lights are coming up. People are going home. One World Trade center is glittering at the left side, further downtown.
I was not fair towards Manhattan. It still has its charms. Plenty of them.
What I learned today:
Don’t try to buy magazines somewhere. Just get them in Midtown.