On the first weekend in May, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) will once again sponsor Jane’s Walk, a festival of free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by urban activist Jane Jacobs. The global phenomenon of walks that combine the simple act of exploring the city with personal observations, local history, and civic engagement is now in its thirteenth year and Jane’s Walk NYC (in its ninth year) has grown to be the largest in the world. Check the Jane’s Walk NYC website for walks in all five boroughs. You can filter the 200+ possibilities by day, borough, theme, and accessibility. (Enlarge the map to click on specific neighborhoods and walks.) Among the listings are two Audubon-focused walks returning this year.
How Audubon Park Disrupted Manhattan’s Grid
Come along on a leisurely walk through Audubon Park’s architecture gems and learn about the families who guided the area’s evolution from farm to suburb to city. Have a conversation with local historian Matthew Spady about how and why the neighborhood’s distinctive footprint disrupts Manhattan’s grid and along the way, hear stories and anecdotes about the Audubon family who settled here in 1841, the Grinnells who masterminded the neighborhoods transformation at the turn of the 20th century, abolitionist Dennis Harris whose sugar refinery at 161st Street was a stop in the underground railroad, and many more fascinating people who have lived in these few square blocks of northern Manhattan.
- Friday, May 3 at 11:00 a.m.
- Saturday, May 4 at 1:00 p.m. (Followed by Audubon’s Birthday Party)
- Sunday, May 5 at 1:00 p.m.
Audubon Bird Murals Project led by Leigh Hallingby
The Audubon Bird Mural Project is an exciting effort to create murals of over 300 N. American birds in the Harlem neighborhood where John James Audubon lived. Since all of the birds painted are threatened by climate change, the Project is designed not only to help us appreciate the birds’ beauty, but also to make us aware of the challenges that they face. We will see at least 30 murals plus Audubon’s grave site in Trinity Cemetery.
Here are some other Jane’s Walks in northern Manhattan:
“NYCHA Recover and Resilience: Public Housing After Superstorm Sandy” led by Onel Hidalgo on Friday, May 3 at 11:00 a.m.
Superstorm Sandy proved to be the most costly and destructive disaster to impact New York City public housing in its history. Join us on a walk through Rangel Houses to hear first-hand accounts from people who lived through the storm and see how NYCHA’s Recovery and Resilience Department is pushing design boundaries and building back stronger and smarter to make public housing safer for generations to come.
“Oldest Farmhouse in Manhattan: The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum” led by John Ragusa on Friday, May 3 at 3:00 p.m.
The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum in the Inwood section of Manhattan, is a Dutch Colonial style house constructed in 1784 of fieldstone, brick and wood, and is the oldest remaining farmhouse in Manhattan. We will get a personal tour of the farmhouse and learn about its history, see a collection of artifacts dating to the Revolutionary War and also stroll through the lovely 1/2 acre garden.
“Historic Washington Heights at Dusk” led by Rob Boatti on Friday, May 3 at 6:00 p.m.
Rucker Park (basketball court where pros came to play local legends) and Polo Grounds Houses, site of the old baseball stadium. West on 155th to Trinity Cemetery and classical buildings of Audubon Terrace (including Hispanic Museum). Then 163rd St/ Edgecombe for Morris Jumel Mansion and historic Sylvan Terrace, and 173rd for the Highbridge. Along bustling 181st St, ending at Bennett Park, highest point in Manhattan and Revolutionary War site.
“Walk with an Inwood Librarian: Inwood Literary Tour” led by Danita Nichols of the NYPL on Saturday, May 4 at 11:00 a.m.
Who has a masterful understanding of Inwood Library’s community’s past and present history? A neighborhood librarian of course! Learn from these amazing experts who live and breathe community as they take you for a walk beyond their local library walls. We will lead you on an exploration of Inwood rich and changing history. We’ll begin at the library and then explore the neighborhood as depicted by Pete Hamill, Alice Hoffman and others.
“Manhattan’s North Coast: The George McAneny Edition” led by Gail Addiss and Edie Ricks) on Sunday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m.
Meet George McAneny, an early 20th century planner and civic leader who both preserved and built this area that Olmsted described as, “1800 acres of very rugged and beautiful ground.” Starting at the 12-mile post at Broadway and historic Isham Park we’ll walk north to Spuyten Duyvil, passing a marble arch from a former estate, see a new waterfront park and in Inwood Park large glacial stones used by Native Americans centuries ago.
“Exploring Along the Greenway: Little Red Lighthouse and More!” led by Margo Moss on Saturday, May 4 at 1:00 p.m.
“Time Travel on the High Bridge” led by Rebecca Seidel on Sunday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m.
Crossing the High Bridge is a trip back in time. As we walk from Manhattan to The Bronx, we’ll learn the story of New York City’s oldest bridge—a story of a crucial waterway, visionary design, and embattled city planners. We’ll also imagine what it was like to walk across this bridge in the 1860s, in a time before most of the city’s bridges were even on the drawing board.