Question: What's the northernmost neighborhood in Manhattan? Did you answer Inwood? Well, technically, you're wrong. The correct response: Marble Hill. Where on earth is that? Why, in the Bronx.
Thanks to its unique history, Marble Hill—which is physically part of the boogie down borough—is legally part of Manhattan. Originally on the isle, the neighborhood was separated from Manhattan with the building of the 1895 Harlem River Ship Canal. After being its own island for a few decades, it physically joined the mainland (and unofficially, the Bronx) when the Spuyten Duyvil Creek was filled in. But in many ways, this tiny neighborhood, which features circular streets around its namesake hill, doesn't feel like it's part of either borough.
My son and I recently spent an afternoon exploring Marble Hill and while there aren't a ton of attractions here, its old Victorian houses, incredible Harlem River views and unique vibe make it a worthy daycation—especially if you're a NYC completist like me! Here are five things to do in Marble Hill.
1. Stroll across the Broadway Bridge Located across the Harlem River from Manhattan, Marble Hill is bordered by Johnson/Irwin Avenue to the west, 230th Street to the north, Exterior Street to the east and the Harlem River to the south. It's easily accessible by Metro-North and the No. 1 subway, but you can also walk across the two-level Broadway Bridge from 220th Street in Inwood. While the bridge itself isn't much to look at and the subway will be barreling overhead, you do get incredible views of northern Manhattan and the southern Bronx, as well as the Harlem River.
2. Marvel at Victorian houses and other architecture Along the narrow, hilly, tree-lined streets you'll see lots of old Victorian homes, some with wraparound porches and front yard gardens. Quite an incongruous sight in Manhattan—or the Bronx! There are also 20th-century apartment buildings that complement the winding streets with rounded facades, the lovely St. Stephen's United Methodist Church, built in 1897, and the Marble Hill Houses, a large housing project. Quite an eclectic architectural mix.
3. Visit Marble Hill Playground The neighborhood's only park is pretty standard, with two play structures, a sprinkler, a basketball court and a large AstroTurf field. Perhaps most importantly for visitors, there's a seasonal bathroom, too.
4. Check out that crazy boat A colorful boat sits permanently on land in the front yard of a Marble Hill Avenue home. It's a pretty wild sight and has a great back story: It was bought off Craigslist and decorated by the band the Villalobos Brothers, members of whom live in the house. Perhaps you know the group's work from their collaborations with Dan Zanes on the album Nueva York. Pretty neat.
5. Go shopping Marble Hill's commercial hub is Broadway, where you'll find a few chain stores, pharmacies and small local eateries. But New Yorkers come from all over to shop in the nabe's River Plaza shopping center, which has a Target (which claims it's in Riverdale! Go figure) plus other big-name chains.
Find out more about Marble Hill's fascinating (and complicated!) history by reading this in-depth article on Forgotten New York.
Check out other new-to-you nabes in our NYC Kids Neighborhood Guide.