55,000 Steps Across Manhattan Island in One Spring Day
British photographer Anne Hollowday proves a hike in the great outdoors can be found just about anywhere, even New York City
Ricoh GR21, Contax TVS
I got this idea in my head that I couldn't shake. I wanted to walk the length of Manhattan island. After almost three years in this city I'd never been north of 116th street on foot. One of the things I love most about New York is that wilderness isn't far away in terms of distance; but when you're in the heart of the city it can feel like forever away.
It's a little over 13 miles from the tip of Manhattan's residential north to the far south of Battery Park, and in the short days of early Spring there's a risk you'd be pounding the pavement in the dark without careful planning. So I instruct my co-conspirators to be at the 215th Street station at 8am or risk being left behind.
We track a path due west to the Hudson river through Inwood Hill Park and then south. That first nook of wilderness feels like a forest compared to the rest of Manhattan's well manicured parks. The trees tower over you all around and with their leaves bare it's like walking through the ruins of a lost civilization.
"My final tally is 33 miles—55,000 steps—which I feel in my knees for three weeks afterwards"
There are three of us and we allow each other two diversions along our course. We set no other rules.
That one rule however, leads us on a wild goose chase. We all want to visit too many things: the Little Red Lighthouse, Riverbank State Park, Jackie Robinson Park, General Grant's statue, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Apollo Theater, The Studio Museum, Morningside Park, a weird street under the elevated train in Harlem where the shadows hit the road in a beautiful pattern at certain times of day. And all of that is before lunch.
In the end we add another 20 miles to the 13-and-a-bit mile base trip. My final tally is 33 miles—55,000 steps—which I feel in my knees for three weeks afterwards and is a single day's step count higher than anyone I've ever met.
When you think of “getting away” for the weekend, most people wouldn't think about a hike through manhattan. But I urge you to reconsider. This 23 square mile island is home to an unending network of wonders both manmade and natural that so many people pass by without a second glance. Give yourself a day sometime to look out and look up and see what you find.