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Ask a Local

Illustration by Lyndon Hayes  

Melissa Riker
Choreographer; resident since 2008

What made you move here?
I had friends who lived here and were enjoying the parks, and then an apartment became available, so I came up to look. When I got off the train, I could see the Cloisters and the trees—and as I walked up the hill, it just [felt] like coming home to a country house.

What’s your favorite thing about the neighborhood?
Oh my goodness, so many. We’re surrounded by three parks. There’s a fabulous [farmers’] market on Isham Street, and it’s open the full year. It’s not just apples—there’s duck and seafood and wine. We do as much of our shopping as we can there. I can walk in the woods, go to a greasy-spoon diner, and get on the subway.

So then why do you think it’s still lower-key than, say, parts of Brooklyn?
The one thing I would say that places like Bushwick and Williamsburg have going for them is that they have performance spaces and training centers, so most of the artists I know up here are musicians rather than dancers or actors. It’s a fabulous place where you can have a cello or piano, because we do have big apartments.

Do you think it’s a mental block that it feels farther than it is?
I think it is. It’s just one train! You get on the A train and watch the stops go by, and [often] it’s going express. There’s this thing where whatever you’re doing, you have to end it at eleven or else you’re stuck on the local. You kind of feel like Cinderella. At night, you’re always playing the local-versus-express game. I guess it’s not just a mental thing; it’s actually a thing at night.


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