The cultural heritage and elbow room in Washington Heights have long made it an attractive place to call home for those looking to settle in New York City but not pay Manhattan prices. At the upper edge of the borough of Manhattan, Washington Heights’ affordable real estate has historically drawn various immigrant populations that have, in turn, brought with them rich cultural traditions. Located north of Harlem, the neighborhood has more than 150,000 residents in a 1.7-square-mile area.
The population of Washington Heights has always been diverse. Irish settlers called it home in the 1900s, and large populations of European Jews relocated there after WWI. Today, there is a thriving Dominican populace that seems to move to an ever-present merengue beat. Young professionals seeking cheaper rent, along with Columbia University medical students and Columbia University Medical Center staff, round out the typical residents.
The neighborhood sits above Harlem, starting around 155th Street, with Inwood providing the northern border. Fort Washington, where General George Washington camped with his troops during the Revolutionary War, is on the north end of the neighborhood and is Manhattan’s highest point, at 265 feet above sea level. The area is well served by the subway system, including the 1 and C trains, and the A train, which goes north through Midtown Manhattan to Washington Heights and Harlem. The George Washington Bridge, which is arguably the world’s busiest motor vehicle bridge, connects Washington Heights to Fort Lee, New Jersey, while the Alexander Hamilton Bridge connects the neighborhood to the Bronx.
The area is awash in unpretentious and authentic ethnic food. Chimichurri stands and chicken-and-rice eateries line Broadway, and there are plenty of clubs and watering holes where locals salsa late into the night. Fort Tryon Park, built on land owned by John D. Rockefeller Jr., provides 67 acres of green space. The Cloisters, a medieval castle-like museum built 100 years ago and featuring five medieval French cloisters, sits in the park and is a cultural gem of the area.