I love my ‘hood. It’s the right mix of gritty, gentrified, multicultural and comfortable. A group of old gents likes to set up folding tables on Columbus Avenue for their chess games. People sit on their steps and wave or say hello as I walk to the train in the mornings. Right next to me is a community garden that is adorably decorated. A couple high-rises of public housing are a block away. They bring youth to Morningside Heights with kids and families.
A few blocks down is a shopping center with a Whole Foods, PetSmart, Modell’s, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, CVS, Starbucks and more chains that are just nice to have nearby. The library is over there, too. But near me are bodegas, delis and other small shops. The only questionable place I’ve been is the wine/liquor shop. As Navani said one night, “Well, you’re going to have to find a different wine shop.” Luckily, there’s a nice one attached to Whole Foods.
Columbia University is nearby, which brings all the benefits of college life – like frozen yogurt shops, Kinko’s, cheap grocery stores and bars.
One guy I dated told me he has a game where he likes to count how many languages he hears on his walk to the train (he’s in Brooklyn). His average was four. I’ve started playing this game, too. I’ve only counted two – English and Spanish. My falaffel guy is from Israel. He’s been in the US less than a year. I’ve also heard some Italian on the streets.
It was the best time for me to start learning Spanish. It’s fun to listen to people speak on the subway and pick up a few words. My Latino cat Carlos also fits in nicely. I like to think he’s with his people.
The streets are lined with townhomes and low-rise apartment buildings. Most are old and full of character and simply gorgeous.
I’m so glad my broker convinced me to look above 100th Street. Harlem gets a bad reputation – and granted I’m on the Upper West Side/Harlem cusp, but I think this place is charming. I can’t stand polished neighborhoods with that manufactured perfection. It feels like a fake life, like something out of “Real Housewives.” But not Bloomingdale/Morningside Heights/The Upper West Side/West Harlem. It’s my kind of place.