Exploring the CCNY Neighborhood

City College is located in one of Manhattan’s most iconic districts: Hamilton Heights, which stretches between 135th and 155th, and the Hudson River and Edgecombe Avenue. Here are few attractions in the area, from the campus itself to its nearby restaurants.

City College

For over a hundred years, City College has defined the neighborhood’s landscape. Its neo-Gothic structures, decorated with terra cotta gargoyles, reach above the surrounding architecture. The sides of the campus are marked with four gates: Hudson Gate (Amsterdam Avenue), Alexander Hamilton Gate (Convent Avenue), George Washington Gate (138th Street and Convent Avenue), and Peter Stuyvesant Gate (St. Nicholas Terrace).

Hamilton Heights Historic District

Hamilton Heights was named after Alexander Hamilton, one of the district’s most famous residents. Hamilton’s house, which he called The Grange, was constructed in the neighborhood. It was designed by architect John McComb, Jr. and completed in 1802. At the time, the house was situated on thirty-two acre estate. The current location of the house, which has been moved twice in its history, is at 414 West 141st Street.

The Grange; photo from The New York Times
The Grange; photo from The New York Times

Hamilton Heights is also famed for its row houses, located directly above the campus. The houses are done in a number of different building materials and colors. Their architectural styles vary from Queen Anne to Romanesque Revival. The houses have been occupied by notable names, including Count Basie, Thurgood Marshall and W.E.B. DuBois. During the Harlem Renaissance, one section of Hamilton Heights was called Sugar Hill (bordered by 145th, 155th, Edgecombe Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue) because life there was sweet.

Because of their iconic architecture, these buildings are often used for exterior shots in films and television shows. One of the houses, at Convent Avenue and 144th Street, was the Tenenbaum mansion in The Royal Tenenbaums (in the film, the address was given as 111 Archer Avenue).

Riverbank State Park

Of the several parks in the area, the largest and most impressive is certainly Riverbank State Park (679 Riverside Drive, between 138th and 145th), named for its place on the Hudson River. The park was constructed on top of a sewage treatment facility, in response to residents’ complaints about the facility’s location. Its design was inspired by Japanese urban rooftop architecture. The park’s twenty-eight acres hold a rink for ice-skating and roller-blading, carousel, pool, and restaurant, among other attractions.

Dining in the Area

One campus favorite is SubsConscious (1625 Amsterdam Ave. at 140th), a shop that offers sandwiches, snacks and an extensive salad bar. The store, which also has a location near Columbia, is always packed with students during the lunch hour. The restaurant Picante (3424 Broadway, between 139th and 140th), is a popular choice for Mexican food. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (700 West 125th at 12th Ave.), located right on the river, gives a classic take on barbeque.

In the past year, many new restaurants have sprung up around campus. Recent additions to the neighborhood include Coccola (1600 Amsterdam Ave. at 139th), an Italian restaurant that serves paninis and pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven, and Harlem Public (3612 Broadway, between 148th and 149th), a bar with a seasonal outdoor patio.

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