The tour begins at the 137th Street Subway stop served by the #1 train. Walk to the east side of Broadway and one block south to W. 136th Street. Turn left and walk east one long block. As you reach mid-block, you will see on your left:

1. Jacob H. Schiff Playground: West side ofAmsterdam Avenue between W. 136th and 138th Streets (Nominated by Katja Dubinsky.)

    The New York City Department of Parks established the Schiff playground in 1956. The city also built an elementary school, P.S. 192, on the property along the western edge of the large play space. An artificial turf playing field is packed with kids and adults on summer evenings and weekends. Kids also use a playground, a basketball and handball courts located south of the field at W. 136th Street and a small public park on Amsterdam Avenue.

From the corner of W. 136th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, walk one block south and turn left onto W. 135th Street. Walking east on W. 135th Street, Annunciation Park is to your right. Continue two blocks until you reach the entrance to St. Nicholas Park.

 Stair at St. Nicholas Park (Nominated by Pavel Gomez)

    With 135 steps, the stair at St Nicholas Park seems tremendous at a first glance: it is a wonder why anyone makes the journey, especially from the bottom to the top of the stair. While a hassle for adults, many teenagers willingly and vigorously traverse the stair, as they make their way through the park every morning and afternoon from the subway stop at the bottom of the stair to Philip Randolph High School at the top. It is during these times that the stair is most active, serving teenagers as a place to congregate as they arrive to school or wait for a ride home. Many of them stay throughout the afternoon, inhabiting the park or enjoying the busy traffic on St. Nicholas Terrace and St. Nicholas Avenue.

Continue eastward through the park until you reach the Y-intersection of St. Nicholas and Edgecombe Avenues. Cross the street to:

3. 6 Edgecombe Avenue (Nominated by Amanda Chen)

    This classical revival school building stands at five stories at the intersection of Edgecombe Avenue and W. 135th Street proudly facing St. Nicholas Park.  The site is an important educational facility for the Hamilton Heights neighborhood. Formerly a junior high school, the building was appropriated in the late 1990s to accommodate the Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School.  Mott Hall High School and Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy IV (KAPPA IV) moved into the space in 2004 sharing the building since then.
    Nominator Amanda Chen writes, “This site is a great example of how a space is appropriated to meet the changing needs of its users over time.  Although the building has always been used as a school, the character of this place is constantly evolving.  Formerly, I.S. 136 was a middle school for many years before it was transformed into three smaller schools.  The three schools vary in many ways but they are united with a common mission to help their respective students to excel. The majority of the students population are considered to be disadvantaged students—poor performing minority children from low-income families.  Curriculums are designed with a focus on preparing students for college and future careers.  Aside from the academic aspect of the school the building is aesthetically striking.  The classical revival charm of the red brick façade bears a commanding presence on the streetscape.”

Return to the west side of the street and continue northward on St. Nicholas Avenue. (At the northeast edge of the park is Arlington “Ollie” Edinboro Playground offering restroom facilities.) Cross W. 141st Street, walk a few yards, and find to your left:

4. Harlem School of the Arts: 645 St. Nicholas Avenue (Nominated by Malvin Hwee)

    Harlem School of the Arts was founded in 1964 by Dorothy Maynor, an African-American soprano. Retiring from a successful career in singing, Maynor decided to pursue teaching. Maynor’s husband, Dr. Shelby Rooks, a pastor for the St. James Presbyterian Church, gave her a space in the church annex where Maynor was the sole teacher to 20 young students. With increased funding, HSA expanded to include a variety of activities including dancing, theatre and painting programs. By 1970, with a roster of 40 instructors and 1,000 students, HSA built a facility of its own located adjacent to the church.

Continue northward on St. Nicholas Avenue to W. 145th Street. Turn left and walk one block to Convent Avenue. Turn left again and walk one block south to W. 144th Street. Turn left once more and walk one short block east to Hamilton Terrace. Turn right onto Hamilton Terrace and walk a few yards. To your right, on the west side of the street, is:

5. Children’s Art Carnival:62 Hamilton Terrace (Nominated by Alexander Baranovich)

    The CAC is in some ways an art incubator, nourishing youth by exposing them to the arts, history and legacy of New York City.  The CAC opened its doors in 1969 and continues to do so through private donations and funds from the city and state. The school day program provides art classes for students and teachers from both public and private schools all around the city. The CAC also hosts several workshops for all ages including multi-media, creative, sculpture, and creative media arts. The CAC does not charge for its programs.

Return to the intersection of Hamilton Terrace and W. 144th Street. Walk two blocks west to Amsterdam Avenue, take a left and walk two blocks south to W. 142nd Street. To your right is:

6. Hope Stevens Community Garden: W. 142nd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Hamilton Place (Nominated by Maria Huerta)

    Hope Stevens is a protected public garden since 1999, maintained by neighborhood volunteers through GreenThumb. Founded in the year 1978, GreenThumb has helped local residents transform vacant properties to green spaces where members of the neighborhood, especially children, may gather to play and socialize.

At the corner of W. 142nd Street and Hamilton Place, walk one block north to W. 143rd Street. To your left is:

7. W. 143rd Street between Hamilton Place and Broadway (Nominated by Emma de Caires)

    W. 143rd Street between Hamilton Place and Broadway serves as the epicenter of a tightly knit social fabric that benefits hundreds of people, particularly children, who use it on a daily basis. The strongest strands of this network are the longtime resident elders, who take care of and watch the street, and the relatively newcomer group that runs the nonprofit youth development organization, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. 
    The community garden on this block was named in honor of Frank White, a neighborhood resident who was dedicated to the children of the neighborhood. As the story is told by the elders, an argument broke out between some young people and the driver of a car who wanted to enter the block during a block party. The driver then pointed a gun at the children. In an effort to protect the children, Frank White stepped in front of the gun and was killed by the gunman. Annual block parties, now in their twentieth year, are still organized by the elders every September. 

At the corner of W. 143rd Street and Broadway, walk five blocks south to W. 138th Street.

8. W. 138th Street beginning at Riverside Park, ending at St. Nicholas Park (Nominated by Halina Steiner)

    It is important for us to look at places, not as isolated pillars, but instead as nodes of a network, which propel our lives and the way we live them. The links and connections that these provide expand our idea of place.
    The places that flank 138th Street act as an armature for a network. As a result, new temporal spaces for children are formed. The line of school buses that waits to bring children to and from school define such a space. The children and parents who wait patiently for flavored ices define a space. The children who see friends on the weekend as they travel to the grocery store, the train, church, or the park begin to define a space. These ad hoc spaces not only strengthen the original nodes of 138th street, but begin to expose a community of children within the network.
From its intersection at Broadway, walk west on W. 138th Street beneath the Riverside Drive overpass. Just beyond the overpass to your right is the Riverside Valley Community Garden. Continue walking west to find the entrance to: 

9A. Riverbank State Park: 679 Riverside Drive (Nominated by Johan Sanmartin)

      Riverbank State Park, opened in 1993, is a multi-layered creation that rests above the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant, which elevates it 69 feet above the Hudson River. This 28-acre space includes five main buildings that house an Olympic-size pool, a skating rink, an 800-seat cultural theater, a 2500-seat athletic complex with fitness room, and a 150-seat restaurant. The outside sports amenities include a 25-yard lap pool, a wading pool, four tennis courts, four basketball courts, a softball field, four hand/paddleball courts, and a 400-meter eight-lane running track with a football/soccer field.
      Riverbank State Park complex is used for many different kinds of recreational activities, mainly sports and arts. However, many people are drawn to the complex for its unique compilation of services and its location overlooking the Hudson River. This makes it the perfect spot for picnicking families and tourists. Although its facilities are meant mainly for children and teenagers, services are provided to people of all ages. Such services include swimming, picnic areas, ice skating, and roller skating. (Note: There are public restrooms throughout the park.)

9B. Riverbank State Park: Soccer area (Nominated by Nate Harris)

      A panel of natural turf occupies the courtyard, which opens out onto the synthetic turf soccer field ringed by an 8-lane running track of red, pelletized rubber. The synthetic turf material is bright green and coarse, like a Brillo pad. Newer installations of synthetic turf have longer, more grass-like blades. Given that the park opened in 1993, it probably has one of the first synthetic turf installations in a New York City public park. Three tiers of concrete bleachers ring the soccer field. It is open to the east, separated from the highway below by a narrow strip of community garden plots, and flanked by the Aquatic Center building to the west. 
      The field, with its track is a magnet for youth, especially teenagers. It is one of the only public soccer fields between Central Park and Inwood, and the only one not jointly operated by an adjoining school. Because of this rarity, the field acts as a draw for teens throughout upper Manhattan and beyond; they use the site both formally and informally. The field is open whenever the park is, an advantage over fields managed by school staff which tend to have more restricted hours. This open, relatively unstructured access is one reason for the field’s popularity with teens. The bleachers serve as a place for informal congregation, offering extensive seating and good views of the action on the field and track.  Teenagers formally use this part of the park as well via organized football, soccer and track teams. On most days, groups of teenagers can be found exercising, practicing, and hanging out at the field.

9C. Riverbank State Park: Skateboarding (Nominated by Kari Williams and Christopher Drobny)

      Skateboarders have demonstrated their creativity by commandeering three specific sites in/around the park and carving out secondary uses.
The first space, located on Riverside Drive across from the 138th Street entrance, is a popular after-school congregating spot for all ages. (Skateboard trivia #1: Look for wax residue on the stair edges, used to help certain “built-structures” slide or grind).
      The Water Play area, located mid-park behind the track and field, is occupied in the summer months by splashing and laughing young children. In the cooler months, skateboarders take residence, performing manual tricks on the concrete blocks.  (Skateboard trivia #2: Because this step material is not grindable even with the application of wax, it is used for “manuals” - balancing on the front or back set of wheels while in motion).
      The third space is a series of brick wedges located directly north of the Water Play area, along the westerly edge overlooking the Hudson. Here skateboarders have created a use for this otherwise useless brick incline by rolling up and down these embankments (i.e. banks) like concrete waves, sometimes performing tricks on the top (i.e. lip) of the bank.

Use the north exit of the park and proceed to the intersection of W. 145th Street and Riverside Drive. Walk north on Riverside Drive 13 blocks. Lily Brown Playground (with public restrooms) is located just northwest of W. 158th Street and Riverside Drive.

10. Oasis Park: Riverside Drive and W. 160th Street (Nominated by Nur-al-diin Saduddin-Singh)

      This hidden oasis-park, a concrete-paved canopy overlooking a rear garden 30ft. below and fenced in by a 4’ high wrought iron fence, acts as a natural summer think-tank for a new “kindergarten” of New York’s Riverside House child. A playground all year round, the space also becomes a garden in the summer, and frequently serves as an urban farmyard, holding chickens and other animals.

Return to Riverside Drive and walk north to W. 165th Street. Turn right and walk two blocks east to the corner of Broadway.

11. Babies Hospital (Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at the NY Presbyterian Medical Center): 3959 Broadway (W. 165th Street and Broadway) 

      (Nominated by Seth Roye)

      Babies Hospital is New York’s oldest hospital dedicated to the care of children and infants. It was founded in the 1890’s as a private hospital for sick infants on Lexington Avenue and 55th Street. In 1928 the hospital moved into a new building at 167th Street and Broadway, and was incorporated into the larger Columbia University Medical Center. 
      Opened in 2003, The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital has been celebrated for its success in hiding the institutional character that makes hospitals so uninviting - especially for young patients.  The new hospital is full of colorful graphics, spatial accommodations made for parents, and an open plan to avoid the labyrinthine confusion so common in hospitals.

Walk south on Broadway ten blocks to W. 155th Street. Turn left and walk one block east to Amsterdam Avenue. 

12. P.S. 28 Wright Brothers School: 475 W. 155th Street (Tim Vigen)

      P.S. 28, the Wright Brothers School, is instantly welcoming, with a modernist façade that conveys the cultural roots of the school in the Hamilton Heights community.  Located on the north side of W. 155th Street between St. Nicholas and Amsterdam Avenues, the school takes up the entire city block.  Built in the early 1960s, the brick façade is identified by its brightly colored murals. Open spaces are setback from the street; they include a small play area with equipment and garden boxes, surrounded by colorful painted fencing.  An adjacent pocket park also doubles as a schoolyard.
      The Wright Brothers School serves a predominately Hispanic neighborhood, mostly Dominican immigrants.  As a result its curriculum is rooted in linguistic programs and bilingual instruction.  English Language Learners are offered instruction as part of the Dual Language Program (alternate Spanish and English days) and the Foreign Language Program (offering one period of Spanish a day). Another program of note is the Hamilton Heights Academy (with heavy parent involvement), which was housed in the Wright Brothers School until it recently relocated to its own nearby location.  Grades 4 and 5 are still housed at the old location.

Walk south on Amsterdam Avenue two blocks. To your right you will see:

13. Hamilton Heights School: Amsterdam Avenue between W. 152nd and 153rd Streets (Nominated by Carlos Rodriguez)

      Organized by community leaders from the ACDP (Association for Progressive Dominicans), P.S. 210 offers a genuine bilingual education where the week is divided between imparting classes two days in Spanish and three days in English (and vice versa).
      Nominator Carlos Rodriquez writes, “Most American children born of immigrant parents don’t know a whole lot of English until they start to attend pre-kindergarten or kindergarten.  However, once the enter school, little by little they assimilate to the ‘American Culture,’ and by the time they are teenagers, all they have left from their cultural roots is a broken Spanish that in the best cases can be fluently spoken but very rarely written or read. P.S. 210 sees this new type of citizen as an opportunity.  It takes advantage of this unique situation to break with the cultural and socio-economical boundaries set by language.”

Across the intersection to the south and east is:

14. Carmansville Playground: Intersection of W. 152nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue (Nominated by Johanna Vargas)

      Carmansville Playground is located diagonally across from an elementary school and next to a dance school making it a magnet for children to visit. It is also located within an area that has a large concentration of housing and is utilized as a tool to unite the community. It is designed for children of all ages to enjoy and is handicapped accessible. You will find toddlers and teens within the park. There are separate playgrounds within the park. One is oriented for toddlers and the other for children. There is also an area designated for teens. This area includes a basketball and handball court. The playground also serves as a place of gathering with an excellent amount of open space and unlimited opportunities for recreational space.

Walk one block south on Amsterdam Avenue to W. 150th Street, turn right and walk a hundred yards. To your right you will find:

15A. The Friendship Garden: 499 W. 150th Street (Nominated by Matthew Johns)

      Established in 1982, The Friendship Garden is used by seniors, families and local schools for many types of casual gatherings. The space is the result of collaboration between the New York Restoration Project and Wicked, the Broadway musical. A special benefit performance was added to the play’s schedule (Ed. Note: when?) with all proceeds donated to the restoration of the Garden. Designed by Edward Pierce, Wicked’s associate Scenic Designer, the garden incorporates many physical elements from the musical. 

Continue west on W. 150th Street to the end of the block and the intersection of Broadway. Turn left and walk south on Broadway 3-1/2 blocks. On the east side of Broadway, to your left, you will find: 

15B. Mo’ Pals Garden: 545 W. 147th Street (Nominated by Matthew Johns)

      Mo’ Pals Garden was created by Mary Foster and four Harlem Heights residents who transformed it from a place previously referred to by locals as "The Lot". In 1999 the garden was saved by the Trust for Public Land and in 2006 became incorporated into the Manhattan Land Trust.
      The Friendship Garden and Mo’ Pals Garden are extraordinary examples of how collaborations between dedicated local residents and larger organizations can produce magnificent spaces for children and communities.  In a city with so much money and so many in need, it is a wonder why there aren't more examples as touching as these two stories.

Continue south 1-1/2 blocks on Broadway. At the intersection of W. 145th Street, take a left and walk one half block. On the north side of the street, to your left, is:

16. Hamilton Grange Branch Library, 503-505 W. 145th Street (Nominated by Helen Levin)

      Built in 1905-6, the Hamilton Grange Public Library is one of 63 New York Public Libraries commissioned by Andrew Carnegie and designed by McKim, Meade and White. The Hamilton Grange Library operates as a neighborhood base for a greater citywide research resource that is the New York Public Library system.  The second floor is a Mecca for children: studying, sitting quietly with friends or reading one of the many books stuffed into the shelves.