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Step Streets in New York City

There are steps that serve as pedestrian streets, extensions of streets, ways to move from point A to point B in New York City. Most are concentrated in the West Bronx and Upper Manhattan. And I will, a few flights at a time, photograph them and stick them here.

The rules? The steps should be useful for getting between two points, be public, and not lead into or out of a building. I will try to get several shots. I will give some neighborhood context. And a verbal description of the steps themselves. Mostly I will post the photos as regular blog posts, and just link them from this page. There is no rush. Sooner or later they will all end up here.

If some are missing, go ahead, tell me. And if you want to send in photos, I’m not proud. Really, any feedback is valuable. Go ahead, tell me something.

Eventually I will add a map of the city… but not sure how that will work yet. Something clickable would be nice, but there needs to be a few more steps first.

First Links

top halfWest 238th Street between Irwin Avenue and Waldo Avenue

Middle of VCPS step street, looking upVan Cortlandt Park South from Gale Place to the intersection with Bailey Avenue, Van Cortlandt Avenue, and the Major Deegan Van Cortlandt Park South northbound on-ramp.

Also, what kind of teacher would I be if there wasn’t a link to that very famous steps puzzle?

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2006 am31 4:32 am 4:32 am

    I take those steps on W238th all the time, to go to Staples! You should take pictures of the steps on Johnson, btw 230 and 231st (not the ones going through Ewan Park, the ones across the street from the school at the bottom).

  2. October 3, 2006 am31 4:47 am 4:47 am

    I have them in the camera. And Ewen Park. And a few more. I need to upload, being careful to choose quick loaders.

    BTW, went to Staples today. And Stop & Shop. Took different stairs.

  3. Tina Vozick permalink
    November 19, 2006 am30 1:30 am 1:30 am

    Only a true Bronxite, whether born or bred, would love step streets – or even know what they are! Thanks for this.

    There’s one in Ft Washington – pretty sure it’s W187th going from Ft Washington Ave (near the entrance to the Cloisters) down to Bennett Ave. But they are truly a Bronx phenonemon. And the amazing thing is they usually keep the name of the street the same on both sides – they truly are a step street – like Van Cortlandt Park South, same name above and below the steps.

    Tina Vozick

  4. November 19, 2006 am30 7:46 am 7:46 am

    I’ve been lazy, but I will start adding more. I want to include “step elevators” (you know the subway stations) but I don’t think they really count. The tunnel from Broadway to the IRT at 190 is pretty amazing….

  5. Tina Vozick permalink
    November 20, 2006 am30 4:08 am 4:08 am

    Yes, I know that tunnel – it is pretty incredible. But do check out that step street from Bennett (one block west of Broadway) at I think it’s 187th, up to Ft Washington Avenue

  6. Elizabeth permalink
    April 28, 2008 am30 3:58 am 3:58 am

    Jonathan,
    I hadn’t checked your site in a while…this is a fantastic idea. Now, you have to visit my old stomping grounds, Morningside Park! Some argue the steps from “down the hill” to “up the hill” folks at Columbia are a metaphoric climb. Although I would stay at the bottom of the hill and enjoy the personality!
    Coming to VA again anytime soon?
    :)
    Eliz

  7. Bill Ricker permalink
    March 2, 2009 am31 6:04 am 6:04 am

    if you tag them highway=steps on the OpenStreetMap project http://www.openstreetmap.org/ , you can use QueryToMap http://toolserver.org/~kolossos/osm/index.php?way=highway=steps&node=&relation=&description=&request=Submit&output=osm&bbox=-73.98,40.75,-73.82,40.87 to plot them.

    • March 2, 2009 pm31 3:49 pm 3:49 pm

      I’m having trouble following what you’ve asked me to do? Do you want me to add them to your map?

      I see that some of them exist (narrow-cased streets seem to be ped-only), but some don’t (entirely missing, even gaps in the grid), and some look like regular streets.

      • April 2, 2009 pm30 7:40 pm 7:40 pm

        Yes, if there is an existing way for the route, you can split out the step section and tag it with “highway=stairs” (yes, I know, it’s not a highway, but that’s the name of the description of where people travel.)

        My email is russ@cloudmade.com. Feel free to ask for help.

  8. Tina permalink
    March 20, 2009 pm31 9:18 pm 9:18 pm

    I live up the street from the West 187th Street step street (between Overlook Terrace and Fort Washington Avenue) and will try to send a photo when I can. I did not realize that step streets proliferate in the Bronx. There are many more here in the Washington Heights/Inwood neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan.

  9. November 30, 2009 am30 11:21 am 11:21 am

    Authentic words, some unadulterated words man. You made my day!!

  10. Linda Cox permalink
    February 10, 2012 pm29 10:28 pm 10:28 pm

    I am watching an episode of CSI:New York and the “vic” fell down the steps of 187th Street. I didn’t knew that there was such a place in NYC! I just happened to notice in the background there was a sign that said “187th Street.” Do the steps lead down to the water?

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