May 30, 2010 | Spanish
A Walk Through Washington Heights
I enjoy a stroll up Broadway.
Today was my second-to-last day studying Spanish, so I decided it was time for another visit to Washington Heights, which has a large Hispanic population, particularly Dominican.
The intended route: Broadway from 155th Street to Dyckman Street, roughly two and a half miles.
I had planned to go first to the Hispanic Society of America, located at Audubon Terrace. I have been meaning to go there for years, so I was happy to finally be doing it—but alas, it was closed, maybe because it is Memorial Day weekend?
So I just started walking north on Broadway instead. There were way more Spanish-language signs and storefronts than I had remembered. I was already familiar with the area around 155th, but as I headed further north, especially after the high 160s, it was entirely new to me.
I admit it was not the most multi-faceted of tours. All I did was walk and take pictures. I didn’t go into any stores; I didn’t talk to anyone. I intentionally wore my super-large headphones, helpful when you are navigating men hanging out on sidewalks. A couple of guys did not seem to be properly impressed by my headset size—they simply raised the volume of their comments—but on the whole the experience was a peaceful one.
I passed groceries, restaurants, health-food stores, gas stations (which I don’t normally see many of in Manhattan), pharmacies, hardware stores, boutiques, and more.
Some signs were in Spanish, some were in English, and some were in both. A slogan for Liberato Food Market, pictured below, read, “Su nombre José Liberato, Su destino vender barato.” Meaning: “His name, José Liberato. His destiny, to sell cheap.”
Much is lost in the translation.
I have in the past done a number of walks around New York that just keep going. Ten miles or more sometimes. I’ve ended up on the opposite end of Manhattan, or even in Brooklyn. Some I’ve done with Brandt, some on my own. In my opinion, the walkability of New York is one of its biggest virtues. It completely transforms your quality of life when you don’t have to drive nine miles to get milk for your corn flakes.
Today’s walk was a short one by comparison, but I saw many blocks I am pretty sure I have never been on before, at least not on foot.
As I continued north, eventually the storefronts gave way to Fort Tryon Park. It is beautiful, yet I hardly ever go there.
At Dyckman, I boarded the A train and headed south for home, where I did grammar exercises to help me prepare for the final exam I have scheduled for Spanish. I did terribly on an exercise where I had to fill in blanks in sentences with the correct choice of desde, desde que, desde hace, desde hacía, and durante. I have a hard time with this general category of Spanish grammar.
I have just realized that “Big Apple” is Gran Manzana in Spanish. Which makes sense, since that is the literal translation of “big apple.” Hearing it in Spanish, though, I can’t help focusing on the apple part of it, which is not the first image that comes to mind when I am walking down a busy New York City sidewalk.