The 13th Congressional District covers all of the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. Bounded by Hamilton Heights/Harlem at 155th Street on the south, the neighborhood of Inwood at Dyckman Street to the north, the Harlem River on the east, and the Hudson River to the west, Washington Heights is named after Fort Washington, an installation built by the Continental Army during the revolutionary war at what is now Bennett Park in the Hudson Heights section of Washington Heights. Fort Washington sat at the highest point in Manhattan and, with its twin, Fort Lee, in what is now in New Jersey, served as defensive installations against British incursions northward through the Hudson River Valley.
Washington Heights has historically been populated with Hispanics, most coming from the Dominican Republic. Once ridden with crime, the neighborhood has changed dramatically and is now statistically the fourth safest neighborhood in New York City. Washingotn Heights has long been a hot bed of some of America’s most successful baseball players, including Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Rod Carew, and Lou Gehrig, who grew up at 173rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Other famous residents include Lawrence Fishbourne, David Dinkens, Alan Greenspan, Ruth Westheimer, Jacob Javits, Henry Kissenger, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Vin Scully.
Washington Heights struggles with providing affordable housing for its residents, as gentrification has changed the area significantly during the past 30 years. Similarly, public schools in the area suffer from overcrowding and new immigrants need assistance in assimilating into the area. Because Washington Heights is the main entry point for traffic from Rockland and Westchester Counties, and the states of New Jersey and Connecticut, Washington Heights suffers from a great deal of traffic congestion and the noise and environmental effects that go with that traffic. While public transportation is abundant on both the A and 1 trains and many bus lines, the infrastructure needs revitalization and expansion to handle the growing load of commuters form the area. Finally, Washington Heights is also home to many of New York’s seniors who rely on the safety net of Social Security and Medicare, vital resources for the disadvantaged retired population in Northern Manhattan.
Strengthening affordable housing support and a heightened level of transparency for the housing support already in place, increased access to education and job training in both English and Spanish, maintaining and enhancing Washington Heights’ residents’ access to public transportation, and ensuring Social Security and Medicare availability are among Mr. Fenstermaker’s priorities for the Washington Heights community.