In the beginning of its settlement, Washington Heights was not the immigrant rich area it is today. Before the twentieth century, the area north of 155th street was characterized by large stretches of pristine land and luxurious mansions, built by people looking to escape the bustling Lower Manhattan atmosphere. It was not until the subway was extended to 157th Street that the green land of Washington Heights turned into the congested neighborhood it is today.
The development of Washington Heights may have been considered a problem to the upper and middle class that called the rolling hills home, but it was certainly not the last to plague the area. Like any of the multitudinous neighborhoods of New York City, Washington Heights has had its shortcomings. In fact, up until recent years, crime, ethnic tensions, and social issues created too hostile an environment for anyone but immigrants to move into this uppermost part of Manhattan. The low prices of apartments have created an influx of more affluent people, but it is almost impossible to ignore a century of problems.