Fleet Week Begins: Viewing the Parade of Ships from Fort Washington Park

Fleet Week in late May brings members of the United States military to New York City for a little R & R, and the event almost always brings to mind the musical On the Town. The week of events coincides with the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial beginning of summer.

Waiting for the Parade of Ships in Fort Washington Park in Washington Heights

The festivities commence with the Parade of Ships entering New York Harbor. The various military vessels pass under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, sail near the Statue of Liberty, pay their respects while passing the WTC site, and then continue up the Hudson River. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at Pier 86 (W. 46th St, & 12 Ave.) serves as a focal point for Fleet Week NYC (official site) with performances, ship tours, and special events. The Battery downtown is a favorite place to watch the ships arrive in New York Harbor. 

The Parade of Ships signals the beginning of Fleet Week in New York. View from Fort Washington Park.

The parade continues all the way up to the George Washington Bridge where the ships turn around before sailing to their various docks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

A ship turns around at the George Washington Bridge.

Fort Washington Park in Washington Heights stretches along the Hudson River from Dyckman Street at the north end to near W. 155th Street on the south. The section just below the George Washington Bridge near W. 175th Street is a sublime place to visit even when there aren’t any ships to see. The rocky river banks are picturesque with native plants and provide many wide open views of the river. Looking south to the skyline in the distance can provide a proper setting for contemplating existential questions about life in the big city.

A Coast Guard ship and accompanying NYPD vessel sails near Fort Washington Park.

If feeling little in New York while contemplating such views, you’ll be in good company with the Little Red Lighthouse, formally known as Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse, that sits just under the George Washington Bridge on the Manhattan side. 

The Little Red Lighthouse

The adventure makes an excellent walk. Start off on W. 181st Street, walk west down the sloping street and locate the pedestrian bridge that veers down into the park. At the lighthouse, continue walking south along the river to the exit near W. 158th Street. From there, walk back up a gentle hill.


Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from May 24, 2017.

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