I don’t see a particular reason to visit Sugar Hill’s Jumel Mansion for itself alone, but as part of a visit to the neighborhood, it makes sense to drop in. This is American History territory.
A few reasons:
• across the street, in a brownstone, is Word, a most unusual bookstore;
• 555 Edgecombe, with its Tiffany stained glass-ceilinged lobby and former home to Paul Robeson, Joe Louis, and current resident Marjorie Eliot whose Sunday jazz parlour concerts are famous;
• the view from Edgecombe overlooking Rucker Park, the East River and The Bronx;
• to the west leads the mansion’s former cobblestoned carriageway, now named Sylvan Terrace (pictured), lined on both sides with a complete matching set of about twenty 19th century wood frame houses. This is high end, walking tour territory.
• beyond the terrace to the west, down several steps breaking through an old stone wall to Amsterdam Avenue is the gateway to the rambunctious, sprawling, so-alive Dominican community of Washington Heights, full of bodegas, barbershops, tiny restaurants, and people, everywhere. Hot summer nights cause a crowded, hang-out scene of people smoking hookahs, watching TV through shop windows, eating homemade and carryout dinners. It is also Chopped Cheese sandwich territory.
A friend lives in Sylvan Terrace. We both realize she is part of its gentrification. It’s difficult to say how long gentrification will go on; one can only hope it will take a long, long time.
Take the C Train to 163rd Street.