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Meet 100th Street

Completing 100 Streets is a major milestone. I began in the summer of 2011, and five years later, I stood looking up at the sign for 100th Street and laughed to myself thinking how proud I had been when I had completed 14th Street. Did I think, then, that I would ever make it this far? I know that I was always determined, but never quite sure if life would get in the way of my journey. Instead, Manhattan Sideways has become such a huge part of my life, and I have had an incredible experience both on my own and with so many wonderful people along the way. The funny thing is that although I am enjoying reflecting on the different neighborhoods that I have explored, what I want to do most is to simply carry on walking – for it is the fascinating owners of the last 12,000 small businesses that I have met who have fueled my passion to keep on going. My ultimate goal is to reach the top of the original Manhattan grid at 155th Street.

Each stop that I made along 100th Street felt like a small celebration. Unfortunately, on the East Side there was nothing to discover with the exception of a public school and residential buildings. However, as I crossed through Central Park and stepped out onto the West side, I found numerous small businesses. A highlight was meeting Hans Neumark, the young son of the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church Heidi Neumark. While sharing the history of the church – which is also his home – with me, I quickly became aware of his deep roots to this street. Hans then went on to tell me his mother’s astonishing story. A graduate of Brown University, she became an activist in Argentina, smuggling books into the country. There she met her husband. When she returned to the States, she worked with individuals in need before becoming the pastor of the liberal church on 100th Street. The most recent chapter of her story was the discovery, in 2009, that even though she was raised German Lutheran, her father was secretly a Jew. Afraid of being persecuted, he never shared this with his family. Heidi tells the story in her book titled, “Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory and Faith.”

Heidi was not the only strong female personage on 100th Street: I also met Wang Chen, the table tennis player from Shanghai who competed for the U.S. in the Olympics. She opened and now teaches at the Wang Chen Table Tennis Club, where we witnessed matches taking place at every single table.

I have consistently found that some of the kindest people on the side streets are the firemen, so it seemed appropriate to find two structures dedicated to the FDNY on 100th Street. Engine Company 76 is a rather large firehouse, since it represents the merger of two separate companies. Its nickname is “Monumental Pride,” a reference to my last stop on 100th Street: an enormous monument on Riverside Drive. The Firemen’s Memorial was dedicated in 1913 to all “the men of the fire department of the city of New York who died at the call of duty – soldiers in a war that never ends.” Every October, the entire fire department assembles around the monument. It is an event that I will make sure not to miss come the fall.

Read more about every place on 100th Street!