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February 7, 2017

A Day at the Races: Your guide to a perfect Uptown Saturday Night

This Saturday marks the 110th installment of the Millrose Games, the longest running, and perhaps most well known indoor track meet in the world. Though no longer held at Madison Square Garden, there’s still a sizeable contingent of traditionalists who bemoan the fact that the meet has been relocated roughly eight miles north to the Armory.

Well, as a former coastal elite who would kill to be in the vicinity of that iconic track facility this weekend, I’m here to shake things up for those subscribing to the bad, Midtown-favoring philosophy. Grab your day planner and feather quill, because I’m about to dictate to you a perfect Uptown Saturday Night – one that will make you forget all about Penn Station and the dumb arena on top of it.

You’re going to want to get to the neighborhood a little before noon because this itinerary is loaded.

For best results, take the A Train to 190th Street, right to the entrance of Fort Tryon Park, a delightful wooded enclave of greenery carved out from glacially striated Manhattan schist. Stroll through its idyllic pathways, until you reach The Cloisters, a world-renowned European Renaissance art museum. If those suits of armor and tapestries don’t get you stoked for the impending track action, check your pulse, because you might just be dead.

Once you’ve overdosed on medieval art, you should exit the museum and the park from whence you came. Head down Fort Washington Avenue a couple hundred feet. At the Cabrini Montessori Academy, fans of mummification and non-lapsed Catholics alike are in for a real treat: entombed in glass (visible for the whole world to gawk at) are the remains of America’s first canonized saint…Mother Cabrini!

After taking in Mother Cabrini’s mummified body and wax replica of her head, continue south, making note of the magnificent George Washington Bridge and a less magnificent replica of the George Washington Bridge located in a playground nearby. If you’re feeling saucy, a quick walk out to the real bridge’s midway point affords spectacular views of the Palisades as well as Southern Manhattan.

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Whew. By now you’ll have worked up quite the appetite, which is good news. Because as you arrive at the Armory, hungry for some high-octane track & field action, you can feed your stomach too at the Halal cart across the street. I don’t know what it’s called but it’s the one directly across Ft. Washington Avenue and I contend it’s the best street meat anywhere on the island. (You can’t bring food inside. Grab a can of seltzer with your gyro and plop your happy self down on the steps of the Armory to chow down.)

And finally, following the conclusion of what I trust was a wonderfully eventful evening of athletics, schlep around the corner to Coogan’s, a popular neighborhood bar and restaurant that is the unofficial home of track in New York City. Make note of the historical running artifacts all over the walls, the reasonable drink specials and one or two elite runners who may have underperformed in the Wannamaker Mile just moments earlier, who are pounding brews as a means of escapism.

You can’t beat that Saturday with a stick!

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