I finally made it — I’m sitting at the northern most Starbucks in Manhattan. The Starbucks on 181st and Fort Washington Avenue is in the Hudson Heights neighborhood of Washington Heights, just south of Inwood and north of Hamilton Heights — obviously there are a lot of ‘height’s up here.
Before moving to NYC, I wanted to get a feel for what an affordable apartment was going to cost me, so I scoped out ads on Craigslist. I put in what I thought was a reasonable amount to pay each month for rent, and only two neighborhoods returned matching results: Inwood and Washington Heights. Obviously I had two choices: Suck it up and live way up here or adjust my definition of ‘reasonable.’ I chose the latter.
Besides riding through this area on a bus, this is the most north I’ve been since moving to NYC. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I got the chance to walk around and explore the area. Everyone I’ve spoken to has talked about northern Manhattan as “a whole different world.” I was expecting a suburbanesque landscape with lots of trees and shrubbery. But, I have to admit, it bears a strong resemblance to the some of the other southern neighborhoods. All in all, I think Manhattan is Manhattan is Manhattan. You can’t escape street venders, delis, coffee houses and towering apartment buildings.
I’m not going to lie — I had high hopes for the Starbucks on 181st and Fort Washington. I figured since it was the most northern location — with virtually no other Starbucks in the area — it would be larger and homey. But no. It’s a small corner location, with a few seats lining the windows opposite a small barista bar. The crowd is thick and steady, and the baristas seem to lack that Manhattan sense of urgency you get in most other NYC Starbucks.
Overall, it was definitely worth the trip — one bus ride, a train ride and a short walk — up here to explore the area. The coffee’s the same, but the air is just a little cleaner.