In just my first few months at Bank Street College, I have found some favored spots around Morningside Heights. I think this is an ideal neighborhood for a graduate school, with a relaxed atmosphere, away from the madding tourist crowds that so many other areas of this city attract. There are gems in this locale worth people from far and wide trekking to.
One of my favorite spots is St. John the Divine Cathedral, just one block down West 112th Street on Amsterdam Avenue. Walking towards the cathedral – the world’s largest gothic style, by the way – is awe inspiring. In fact, it often leads me to feel like I’m in a European city. Next to the cathedral is a beautiful little park, centered around the Peace Fountain, a sculpture by Greg Wyatt, the sculptor-in-residence of the cathedral. One could sit and ponder the depth of meaning in this work for days.
Another great spot for reflection, and art appreciation, is the Roerich Museum. I recently discovered this gem, thanks to my program at Bank Street. On West 107th Street near Riverside, this former home (containing a collection of the work of Russian artist Nicolas Roerich) is a surprising sanctuary.
Morningside Heights also offers plenty of green space for exercise, or if you’re like me, for running around like you’re a kid again. During one break between classes, friends from my cohort and I took advantage of the vacant swing set in Riverside Park, just one block from Bank Street.
Luckily this neighborhood offers diverse food options for the student on the go. Even I, the vegan, have options! Maoz falafel is already somewhat of an addiction. Mostly, when I’m in a hurry, I’ll grab something from the myriad of options at West Side Market, or a bagel with a vegan schmear (non-dairy cream cheese!) from Nussbaum and Wu. That’s my favorite bagel place in the area, which also has a great environment for wiling away hours on their free wifi. It’s also a nice option for meeting someone for coffee, when the chain coffee-shops are overflowing.
I suppose I should divulge my favorite coffee secret. There is a Joe the Art of Coffee at West 120th Street, on the second level of a Columbia University building. When I have the time, I make a point of stopping their for there high octane java. There is also a beautiful patch of grass on a roof, a level above that cafe, where you can enjoy your coffee outside.
Lastly, I’d be remiss to not include Book Culture. This is a great bookshop, actually with two locations in Morningside Heights – one on West 112th Street (just next to the post office between Broadway and Amsterdam) and another on Broadway and the corner of West 114th Street. The location on 112th boast an adorable little dog as a mascot, usually to be found on the second floor.
I think Morningside Heights is a really special pocket of Manhattan. If you are considering attending Bank Street, and aren’t familiar with New York City, you should definitely visit. If you do, you’ll find that this neighborhood is not as hectic as others, and holds many charming spots that will enrich your unique experience as a student.