Roof Ride (Harlem to Water Street, down the west side of Manhattan)

Probably the best $100 I ever spent was when my good friend in San Diego, Robert, helped me disassemble my beater Trek 7300 hybrid bike to ship it to New York ($50) to a Chelsea bike shop where they reassembled it (the other $50).

When I arrived, I went right to the bike shop and rode it “home,” smiling from ear to ear with the ecstasy of riding my old bike in my new city.  I’ve been riding it around the City ever since, often going to roof-viewing meetings with my helmet in hand.

The other smart thing I did (this one was free!) was join a fabulous Meet-Up group called Bike to Adventure.  Through BtA, I’ve met dozens of super New Yorkers and have even been lucky enough to make a few wonderful friends.

Since I chatter nonstop about rooftops with everyone, it was suggested that I lead a Roof Ride, which happened last Sunday at 11 a.m. (we’re a social group, not a hard-core riding group).

We met along the bike path in Harlem to view our first roof destination from a distance, the 28-acre Riverbank State Park.  We rode up there and locked our bikes under the park.  Pamela, a helpful State Park warden, gave us a walking tour, showing us all over, including the ice rink, the Olympic size pool and what is probably the only elevated community garden in New York City (more on that in a future blog).

We then rode to Lincoln Center to see the magnificent “Illumination Lawn,” the green grass roof atop the Film Society and the posh Lincoln restaurant.  We also admired the almost-completed LCT3 experimental theater space that is being built on the roof of the Beaumont Theater.

A ride down to Section 2 of the High Line ensued with our first snag of the day.  The Colicchio & Sons 350-seat food truck park and outdoor tap room had been shut down the day before, at the end of the “summer season.”   We were hungry so we enjoyed the elevated gardens of the High Line probably more quickly than we should have, and headed down to Artichoke Basille’s Pizza for some delicious refueling.  We then tried to find some street-level art: The Serra installation at the Gagosian (go see this!) and the David Byrne installation under the High Line at 25th Street, but we struck out on both of those too.  Galleries are closed on Sundays, we learned.

We rode past the Morgan Mail Processing Center, which hosts the largest green roof in Manhattan, through the Robert Moses pocket park to view the Burning Man daisies on the roof of the Death Star Building, then down the greenway to Battery Park City to the Irish Hunger Memorial.  This is a 2002 permanent art-installation green roof that Peter, a fellow Roof Rider, claims looks just like the landscape when he was riding his bike through Kerry County, Ireland.  The view of the Lady Liberty from up there was inspiring as sky was filled with bursts of orange in a cloud-filled, rain-threatening sunset.

We cycled down to the bottom of Manhattan, past the Staten Island Ferry terminal and up a few block on the east side to The Elevated Acre.  We got there just as the rain began.  We enjoyed the Acre’s artfulness, and its East River and Brooklyn views for a few minutes, but then ducked into a pub to wait for the rain to pass while we watched our beloved Yankees lose a playoff game to Detroit.

Because of the rain, we never made it to the excellent roof bar with the great City view in Williamsburg, but I have a strong feeling we’ll do this ride again when the forecast is more favorable.  In the meantime, I’ll keep LOOKING UP to find new roofs to add to the Roof Ride tour.

( All photos by Declan Zimmerman, BtA member and a great photographer)


6 thoughts on “Roof Ride (Harlem to Water Street, down the west side of Manhattan)

  1. I experimented with looking at your web site on my mobile phone and the format doesnt seem to be right. Might wanna check it out on WAP as well as it seems most smartphone layouts are not working with your web site.

  2. Hi,
    There has been a lot of interest so I would like to do the Roof Ride again (it may have a few variations) but I’m not sure when I’ll be doing it. Here’s what I can do for you. As soon as I choose a date for the next ride, I’ll post it on Looking Up With Leslie and let you know about it that way. So keep checking back! I look forward to riding with you!

  3. ooh, great idea. could you let me know when you’ll do another roof ride?

    could you email me when you get a chance? i’d love to talk more about green roofs with you.

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