The Steps of 187

The Steps of 187
By Nancy Bruning / draft 9-29-02

The steps are currently an ugly, dirty, a pathway that we must take to get from Broadway, Bennett Avenue and Overlook Terrace to Ft. Washington and above, but hold our noses and close our eyes while doing so.  This gauntlet can and must be transformed from an eyesore into an oasis. In being made more beautiful the steps will also become more functional.  They could become one of the small delights of Washington Heights, like the Pinehurst Steps and the Trivium.   Like the Pinehurst Steps, they can serve to better connect the two Washington Heights.  Like the Trivium, they can be a meeting ground for the diverse populations of the neighborhood.



The transformation would occur in phases, and culminate in a celebratory opening day, with community events. Local leaders attend opening day, in which the streets surrounding the steps would be closed off and which could consist of:

In addition to foundation funding, we can solicit contributions of money and in-kind from the neighborhood businesses, including such untapped ones as Modell’s (race sponsor); radio Shack (music sponsor);

This project has many potential stumbling blocks and there will be many objectors. As a starter, we could have some of the people who were responsible for the Trivium—the landscape architect lives in Castle village; local activist Van Stone is currently in Turkey, but agreed to consult with me via email?—and the Pinehurst steps to help us avoid the land mines and ensure success.


In order to secure funding and to keep funds coming, we will need an evaluation component.  This would most likely consist of a survey of current users and how they feel about the steps as they now are; do a count of how many people use the steps, and so on.  At a certain point after the steps have been transformed (or several points) we would do another evaluation and compare.

The subway elevators, the Trivium, the Pinehurst Steps, Bennett Park, the Lighthouse, Heather Garden, the 190th Street subway terrace, and now the 187th street steps are like dots that connect the community and make it shine.  They help make us unique and add immeasurably to our quality of life.

Interested folks may contact for more information.


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