When Helen and I visited as tourists, the confusing subway map made it seem like the island was vast. But now we know that the lines are redundant, and that Manhattan is actually pretty small.
Soon after realizing this I arrived at the notion of walking along our street--88th Street--end to end, from East End Avenue to Riverside Drive. This requires two journeys through Central Park, as well as a lot of time and total lack of concern about looking weird. On Friday I looked like a good Japanese tourist, with the digital camera hanging around my neck and a notebook in my hand. I started on the East Side, near our apartment, and walked the whole way across and back. It was a glorious afternoon.
Mostly I just observed regular life passing by, which was my goal. But I did discover part of a major Civil War memorial at 88th/Riverside, which is obviously very old but new to me. One of the battles memorialized occurred in Murfreesboro, TN, where I lived with Aunt Linda in the summer of 1996. From the Civil War to Darfur to immigrant rights, the West Side had more of a political vibe. But on the East Side, I had the comfort of knowing many of the spots in our neighborhood.
This won't become my goal with every Manhattan street; I am no Caleb Smith. But it was a pleasant way to get some exercise and learn some more about my chosen hometown.