Parks of Uptown


Central Park

Fifth Avenue and Central Park West 59th to 110th Streets (Central Park North)

Arguably the most famous park in the world, Central Park is a manmade wonder. Not only is it the first public park built in America, but it is also one of the most frequently visited, with over 25 million guests per year.

Set in the middle of bustling Manhattan, its grounds serve as a safe haven, not only for athletes, daydreamers, musicians, and strollers, but also for teems of migratory birds each year. One can spend an entire peaceful day roaming its grounds, gazing upon nearly 50 fountains, monuments, and sculptures or admiring its 36 bridges and arches.

With recreational facilities abounding, the more energetic won’t have a problem finding a spot to skate, pedal, row, dribble, or climb to his or her heart’s delight. Although Central Park has 21 official playgrounds, we like to think of it as one gigantic jungle gym in its peak season.

One-hundred-fifty years’ worth of visitors have enjoyed and recommended Central Park; don’t you think it’s your turn? And here’s how this wonder came about…

Late in the 1840s, socialites Anna and Robert Minturn led New York’s upper-crust civic movement to create a landscaped public park to rival the best that Paris, London, and Vienna offered. After the research of appropriate sites ended, in 1853, likeminded groups had two choices: Jones’ Wood, a tract along the East River in the 60s and 70s, or a rocky, mid-island tract, including Harlem Common, viewed as an unlikely development site because of its brackish swamps and irregular bluffs. After contentious wrangling—with more than a few interventions involving New York state legislators—the city council selected the first park commissioners, as well as the central site.

This expanse, from Fifth to Eighth Avenues, spanning 59th to 105th Streets, was already host to a handful of permanent structures—most prominently, the Sisters of Charity Mount St. Vincent Convent and School, an already aged facility built nearby the colonial-era McGowan’s Pass Tavern site, at 107th Street near Fifth Avenue. Others included those within Seneca Village, an African-American community with a population of 1,600, at West 82nd Street near Eighth Avenue (among them, several wood-frame churches and a school), and shanties, occupied by Irish pig-keepers and German gardeners, from Lenox Hill to Highland of New York (now Carnegie Hill), nestled between sporadic swamps, ponds, and rocky protrusions.

While this land was being cleared of its inhabitants (and what a saga the displaced dwellers wrought!) a newly appointed committee announced a competition that would determine the designer of the forthcoming first American landscaped urban park. After extensive backroom deals and intrigues, Park Superintendent Frederick Law Olmsted and British architect and landscapist Calvert Vaux’s Greensward Plan was selected, which envisioned decidedly English romantic, pastoral expanses. The commissioners, however, would add their own stamp, through budget revisions and spending-proposal paperwork

The physical creation of Central Park began in 1857 and continued throughout 1858, and then opened, in stages, over a period of 15 years (it initially encompassed 700 acres, but was expanded to 110th Street, in 1863, to a total of 843 acres). Along the way 10 million cartloads of muck and mire were removed, three million cubic feet of earth and stone were hauled in, and 20,000 laborers (prison chain gangs among them) were utilized. Ultimately, a half-million trees and shrubs were planted, offsetting a handful of manmade lakes and ponds and 40 graceful bridges.

Immediately received as truly wondrous, Central Park’s grand, sprawling, open spaces drew New Yorkers from every walk of life, and within five years more than seven million visitors, both to and from the city, were exploring it annually. While Olmstead and Vaux’s engineering feat was unarguably seminal, more important for Manhattan was the overall park-design concept, with its far northern portion’s open and rolling meadows— highlighted by nearby hills and bluffs—contrasting and yet harmonizing with its southern portion’s formal dress grounds and promenades. At the same time, rougher grounds to the north, complete with Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battle sites (and a single still-intact fort) were left undisturbed, to retain part of the island’s rugged character, while, to the south, the creation of the Great Lawn, Sheep Meadow, and what is now called the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir helped to reflect the more rural nature the park’s surrounding blocks once were.

But perhaps most notable among the park’s impacts is its own most notable structure, accomplished through the efforts of a group of wealthy art aficionados who maintained that the City would benefit from a museum displaying their collective treasures. With sufficient clout at Tammany City Hall, these prominent citizens lobbied for and won approval for what was to become the largest building within Central Park: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Work began in 1870, with designs by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, and the institution opened in 1877, continuously expanding and reflecting the work of many remarkable architects.

At the same time, the appeal of living due south of the new park was diminishing, and the blocks below 59th Street saw widespread conversion to commercial spaces. New Yorkers yearning for prestigious addresses were moving farther and farther north, and throughout the 1870s an eruption of mansions began along Fifth Avenue, first in the East 60s; within three decades the swells had moved as far north as 96th Street, inspired by the completion of the Carnegies’ urban estate.

The park’s western border, Eighth Avenue (renamed Central Park West in 1884, the same year as its most illustrious apartment house, the Dakota Apartments, welcomed its first residents), found itself opposite Fifth Avenue’s Millionaires’ Row—in more ways than one. The avenue developed in a more commercial vein, due to its proximity to many nearby theaters and low-rise multiple-family dwellings, resulting in tenements and boarding houses standing among early innovative apartment houses and luxury apartment hotels. But like its sister avenue across the park, Eighth Avenue became host to another of the city’s most revered collections—the American Museum of Natural History, also designed by Vaux and Mould, and completed in 1877 (the subsequent Theodore Roosevelt Memorial entrance opened in 1936). This institution found a new neighbor, in 1908, in the York & Sawyer and Walker & Gillette–designed New York Historical Society.

Eighteen-blocks down, the park’s southwest corner anchors Columbus Circle. More than a major traffic hub (where Broadway intersects both Eighth Avenue and its cross street Central Park South), this plaza is home to the Maine Monument, a 44-foot Beaux Arts, limestone, marble-and-gilded-bronze pylon, (donated by William Randolph Hearst) in memory of the sailors aboard the U.S.S. Maine; Merchants’ Gate, the most imposing Central Park West park entrance; and—at its epicenter—the celebrated statue of Christopher Columbus, which commemorated the 400-year anniversary of his discovery of America.

A second plaza, no less architecturally significant, is stationed three blocks across town, at Central Park’s southeast corner. Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan’s only split semicircular plaza (and the park’s only external landscaped entrance) was designed in homage to Paris’s Place de la Concorde, and is best known for its outdoor art. The north portion boasts a statue of Union general William Tecumseh Sherman; the south, an Italian Renaissance–inspired statue of Pomona, the Roman goddess of bounty (and the Pulitzer Fountain’s centerpiece). And rotating sculptures, installed biannually by the Public Art Fund, grace the adjacent Doris C. Freedman Plaza. All share one of the city’s most elegant backdrops, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the French Renaissance–château style: the world-renown (and aptly named) Plaza Hotel.

Central Park Highlights

  • The Pond, and the Hallett Woods nature preserve, Grand Army Plaza, 59th to 61st Streets, at Fifth Avenue
  • The Central Park Zoo, 62nd to 65th Streets, at Fifth Avenue
  • The Dairy, at 63rd Street
  • The Arsenal, at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue
  • The Carousel, at 65th Street
  • The Mall and Summer Stage, 65th to 71st Streets
  • Sheep Meadow, 65th to 70th Streets
  • Strawberry Fields, at 72nd Street and Central Park West
  • Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, at 72nd Street
  • The Lake, and Boathouse, 72nd to 75th Streets
  • Conservancy Water, at 73rd Street and Fifth Avenue
  • The Ramble, 75th to 79th Streets
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and its Roof Garden, 80th to 84th Streets, at Fifth Avenue
  • Cleopatra’s Needle, at 81st Street
  • Belvedere Castle, Turtle Pond, and Delacorte Theater, at 82nd Street
  • The Great Lawn, 82nd to 85th Streets
  • The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and Upper Reservoir jogging track,

85th to 94th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West

  • Engineer’s Gate, at 90th Street and Fifth Avenue
  • The East and North Meadows, 97th to 99th Streets
  • The Conservancy Gardens, with the Vanderbilt Gates, at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue
  • The Blockhouse, McGowan’s Pass, 106th to 108th Streets
  • Harlem Meer, 108th to 110th Street, at Fifth Avenue

Central Park Gates

  • Merchant’s Gate, at Columbus Circle
  • Artisan’s Gate, Central Park South and Seventh Avenue
  • Artist’s Gate, Central Park South and Avenue of the Americas
  • Scholar’s Gate, at Grand Army Plaza
  • Children’s Gate, Fifth Avenue and 64th Street
  • Inventor’s Gate, Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street
  • Miner’s Gate, Fifth Avenue and 79th Street
  • Engineer’s Gate, Fifth Avenue and 90th Street
  • Woodman’s Gate, Fifth Avenue and 96th Street
  • Vanderbilt Gate, Fifth Avenue and 102nd Street
  • Pioneer’s Gate, Central Park North and 110th Street
  • Farmer’s Gate, Central Park North and Lenox Avenue
  • Warrior’s Gate, Central Park North and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard
  • Stranger’s, Gate Central Park North and Central Park West
  • Boy’s Gate, Central Park West and 100th Street
  • All Saints’ Gate, Central Park West and 96th Street
  • Mariner’s Gate, Central Park West and 86th Street
  • Naturalist’s Gate, Central Park West and 77th Street
  • Woman’s Gate, Central Park West and 72nd Street

Morningside Park

West 110th to West 123rd Streets, between Manhattan Avenue and Morningside Drive

Nearby Zip Codes: 10035, 10029, 10027, 10026

Nearby Neighborhoods: Upper West Side, Uptown, Harlem, Manhattan Valley, and Morningside Heights

Morningside Park takes its name from the eastern side—where the sun rises in the morning—of the rugged cliff of Manhattan schist which separates Morningside Heights on the west from the Harlem Plain to the east. The area was formerly known as Muscoota to the Indians of the Harlem Plain, Vredendal (Peaceful Dale) to 17th century Dutch settlers, and Vandewater Heights after the Dutch landowner who acquired property here in 1738. On September 16, 1776, during the Revolutionary War Battle of Harlem Heights, colonial forces retreated on a road through the area. Three blockhouse fortifications were built here and put to use during the War of 1812.

In 1867 Andrew Haswell Green, Commissioner and Comptroller of Central Park, recommended that a park be located in Morningside Heights. He argued that it would be “very expensive” and “very inconvenient” to extend the Manhattan street grid over the area’s severe topography. The City of New York was granted jurisdiction over this property in 1870. Construction of Morningside Park was delayed, however, because the Board of Commissioners for Public Parks rejected the design proposals submitted by Parks Engineer-in-Chief M.A. Kellogg in 1871, and by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (co-designers of Central and Prospect Parks) in 1873.

Architect Jacob Wrey Mould was hired to rework Olmsted and Vaux’s plans in 1880. He designed the promenade and buttressed masonry wall that encloses the park along Morningside Drive. The 30 foot-wide walkway was constructed as a series of esplanades, linked by steps, with semi-octagonal bays providing visitors with places to rest and to enjoy the view. Although a construction contract was awarded in 1883, Mould died in 1886 before the work was completed.

Fourteen years after their original proposal was rejected, landscape architects Olmsted and Vaux were hired in 1887 to continue improvements to Morningside Park. They enhanced the park’s natural elements by planting vegetation tolerant of the dry, rocky environment. Two paths—one broad, one meandering—traversed the lower portion of the park. Retained as a consultant, Vaux saw the work to completion in 1895, the year he drowned in Gravesend Bay. Parks Superintendent Samuel Parsons Jr. wrote of Vaux’s work, “. . . perhaps Morningside Park was the most consummate piece of art that he had ever created.”

The park’s design continued to evolve in the 20th century. Monuments installed in and around the park included Lafayette and Washington (1900) by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the Carl Schurz Memorial (1913) by Karl Bitter and Henry Bacon, and the Seligman (Bear and Faun) Fountain (1914) by Edgar Walter. Between the 1930s and the 1950s playgrounds, basketball courts, and softball diamonds were constructed in the east and south parts of Morningside Park.

In 1968 student and community protests halted construction of a large gymnasium in the park intended for the use of Columbia University and the public. The excavated foundation crater was converted into an ornamental pond and waterfall in 1989-90 as part of a $5 million capital reconstruction of the park from 110th to 114th Streets. The project also included installing new play equipment, creating a picnic area, planting new trees, and rebuilding the ball fields.

Carl Schurz Monument

Carl Schurz (1829-1906) was born in Liblar, Prussia (near what is now Cologne, Germany). In 1848, while a doctoral candidate at the University of Bonn, he joined the democratic revolt opposing the autocratic German government. After participating in rebellions in the Rhineland, the Palatinate, and in Baden, Schurz was imprisoned, escaped, and fled to Switzerland. After a short stay in Switzerland he resided in France and England before immigrating to the United States in 1852. Schurz eventually settled in New York City in 1881, but not before living variously in Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Detroit, and St. Louis.

Morningside Heights, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, winter

Shurz was a prodigious learner and mastered the English language, while earning a law degree, within three years of settling in America. He soon established a reputation as a skilled orator and proved to be instrumental in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Schurz was appointed Minister to Spain in 1861. He was a staunch abolitionist and when he returned to the United States in 1862 Schurz was appointed as a Major General in the Union army.

He commanded the 3rd Division, I Corp, of the Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Bull Run, and later led the 3rd Division, XI Corps, of the Army of the Potomac and 3rd Division, XI Corps, of the Army of the Cumberland. Returning to the North in 1864 he made numerous campaign speeches on behalf of Lincoln and was General Slocum’s chief of staff before reentering civilian life. He prepared a report on post-war racial integration in the Southern states for President Andrew Johnson (1822-1893) and then served as the Washington correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune.

In 1867, Schurz became editor of the Westliche Post in St. Louis. He then served as the temporary chairman of the Republican Convention of 1868. Admired for his eloquence and political acumen, Schurz was elected United States Senator from Missouri in 1869 and served until 1875. He was appointed Secretary of the Interior in 1877 by Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893), where he was a strong proponent of civil service reform. He worked for improvements in the treatment of Native Americans in the Bureau of Indian Affairs until leaving his post in 1881. In his later years, Schurz was editor of the New York Tribune and an editorial writer for Harper’s Weekly. He continued to be an outspoken advocate of civil service reform. Upon Schurz’s death in 1906, prominent lawyer Joseph H. Choate formed a memorial committee and raised $93,000 in donations towards a monument for Schurz.

This impressive monument to soldier, statesman and journalist Carl Schurz is the result of a collaboration between the distinguished sculptor Karl Bitter (1867–1915) and renowned architect Henry Bacon (1866–1924). Built in 1913, the monument consists of a full standing bronze portrait of Schurz in the center of a granite exedra (curved bench) with carved reliefs framed by two ornamental bronze luminaries. The entire monument is located within a large brick-paved plaza projecting from the promontory at Morningside Drive and West 116th Street.

In 1908, Austrian sculptor Karl Bitter was selected to create the sculpture. Bitter had already received many public commissions including the Franz Sigel statue (1907) on Riverside Drive. Before his death, he modeled the maquette for the figure of Pomona atop the Pulitzer Fountain in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza. Bitter selected the site of the Schurz monument for its advantageous position and also enlisted Bacon to assist in the designs. Bacon later designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C, the Metropolitan Pool in Brooklyn, and two early electrical lamp-posts for Central Park.

Other studio assistants and associates of Bitter may have worked on the side and central stone relief carvings which relate to Schurz’s social concerns about AfricanAmerican slaves and Native Americans. The low relief carvings in granite were made by the Bronx-based Piccirilli studios after clay and plaster models by Bitter, and the figures display a blend of the stylized features of ancient Archaic Greek and Vienna Seccessionist art. Set at the center, silhouetted against the sky, is the imposing figure of Schurz.

The monument underwent extensive conservation in the late 1930s, at which time incised inscriptions replaced bronze lettering and less distinctive light poles were substituted for the originals.

Morningside Park, Manhattan Avenue entrance Dr. Thomas Kiel Arbortum

This arboretum (a Latin word meaning “a place grown with trees”) was named in memory of one of Morningside Park’s most dedicated volunteers, Dr. Thomas Kiel (1960-1996). Born in Meriden, Connecticut, Kiel attended Columbia College in Morningside Heights. As a college senior, he founded the Friends of Morningside Park in the fall of 1981. Even after Kiel graduated with a B.A. in 1982 and moved out of the neighborhood, he faithfully returned to Morningside Park to volunteer alongside other community members. While he was chairman, the Friends group launched a fundraising program, organized special events, replanted lawn areas, made horticultural and structural improvements, and cleaned and cleared the park to increase visibility.

Kiel received his M.D. degree from the New York University School of Medicine in 1986 and joined the staff of the Staten Island and University Hospital in 1988. He shared a private practice with Dr. George Ferzli, and together they published several articles about medical surgery and the digestive system. Dr. Kiel was an associate fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a diplomate of the American Board of General Surgery, and a firstplace winner in the annual paper competition of the Society of Medicine of Richmond. Tom Kiel died tragically, at the age of 36, in a trailbike accident during a ten-day tour from Brisbane to Ayers Rock, Australia.

The Kiel Arboretum was inspired by a description of the arboretum proposed for the northeast corner of Central Park in 1858. The latter arboretum was one of the original features of the “Greensward” plan created by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In 1858 Olmsted wrote, “This arboretum is not intended to be formally arranged, but to be so planned that it may present all the most beautiful features of lawn and wood-land landscape, and at the same time preserve the natural order of families, so far as may be practicable.” Winding paths were to direct visitors amongst 112 different species of trees, from Magnolia virginiana (sweet bay magnolia) to Juniperus virginiana (red cedar), and 169 species of shrubs, from Atragene Americana (glory bower) to Taxus Canadensis (ground hemlock).

Ultimately, the Central Park arboretum was not planted. The 1868 revised plan of the park labeled this area “Unfinished Ground”; it was later landscaped and designated as the East Meadow. Olmsted and Vaux were commended for their work in Central Park and won commissions to design public parks and private estates throughout the United States. Although their initial plan for Morningside Park was rejected in 1873, Olmsted and Vaux’s revised plan was accepted in 1887. Construction of Morningside Park was completed in 1895.

In 1998 Olmsted and Vaux’s arboretum took root in Morningside Park. Land was set aside from the foot of the entrance stairway at 116th Street north to 121st Street for a new planting program modeled on the original arboretum plan. The Kiel Arboretum was initiated with a first planting of trees from the Magnoliaceae (magnolia) family and shrubs from the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) and Berberidaceae (barberry) families. Plantings of additional tree and shrub families have created an informative arboretum and provided a fitting memorial to Dr. Thomas Kiel, a young man dedicated to the beauty of Morningside Park.

Manhattan Schist in New York City

Schist—which can be seen in Morningside Park, Marcus Garvey Memorial Park, and J Hood Wright Park—is an extremely strong and durable rock type. Deep below the buildings and busy streets of New York City, beneath the labyrinth of subway tunnels and stations, lies the geologic foundation that makes New York City unique in the world. This foundation consists of the city’s five bedrock layers: Fordham gneiss, found primarily in the Bronx; Manhattan schist, in Lower and northern Manhattan; the Hartland Formation, in central Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens; Staten Island serpentinite, in Staten Island; and Inwood marble, in Manhattan and beneath the rivers that surround it. But it is Manhattan schist, the most prevalent bedrock in Manhattan that makes the city’s famed skyline possible.

Manhattan schist was formed about 450 million years ago, making it the second oldest of New York City’s bedrocks, after Fordham gneiss. At that time, the continents of the world existed as a single supercontinent, called Pangea. The continents and oceans are not anchored down in a fixed position—they rest on landmasses called tectonic plates, which float on the earth’s molten core. The plates shift continuously, colliding and separating, causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and forming jagged mountain ranges.

A continental collision between what is now the East Coast of North America and the floor of the Atlantic Ocean pushed a layer of shale–a sedimentary rock composed of clay and sand–roughly nine miles into the molten core of the earth. There, the intense heat and pressure transformed the shale into a conglomeration of minerals, including quartz, feldspar, hornblende, and mica. The resulting metamorphic rock is known as schist. Subsequent continental shifts pushed the schist back to the surface. In some areas the schist has even been exposed. The massive rock formation that rises out of Morningside Park is a visible sign of the Manhattan schist bedrock below. Schist can be recognized by its glittering appearance, which is caused by flecks of white mica within the rock.

Manhattan schist is found at various depths – from 18 feet below the surface in Times Square to 260 feet below in Greenwich Village. Where bedrock is far below the surface, skyscrapers are not practical because it is too difficult to reach the schist that provides structural stability and support. Consequently, there are few tall buildings in Greenwich Village, but skyscrapers stand in dense clusters in midtown where schist lies close to the surface. The schist formations display a rock whose importance cannot be overestimated—New York City reaches its towering heights because of this strong foundation.

Lafayette and Washington, Manhattan Avenue and Morningside Park

Lafayette Square

Located on Manhattan Avenue, at 114th Street and Morningside Avenue, in Morningside

Heights, Lafayette Square is named in honor of the prominent French statesman and military leader Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Montier Lafayette (1757-1834). Also known as Marquis de Lafayette, he is best remembered for his role in the Revolutionary War. Sympathetic to the American cause, he aided the colonists through the provision of experienced military leadership. The Frenchman quickly became a favorite of General George Washington, who appointed him Major General in the Continental Army during 1777. The next year, Lafayette returned to France following the formal agreement of the France/United States alliance against Great Britain. Once in France, he actively lobbied for the allotment of increased military and financial aid for the Colonies. In 1780, Marquis de Lafayette returned to America and served valorously in the Virginia campaign, which forced the surrender of Lord Charles Cornwallis in 1781.

As a true proponent of democracy, Lafayette assumed a leading role in the French Revolution of 1789. He became a member of the National Assembly, from which position he prepared a bill of rights based on the American Declaration of Independence. He commanded the French National Guard and joined the Feuillants, a moderate political party that advocated a constitutional monarchy. He gained leadership of a French division in 1792 in the war against Austria. Chastised by the Jacobins within his unit (who were far more radical than the Feuillants) Lafayette fled to Flanders where Austrian authorities imprisoned him for five years. Upon his return to France, he avoided the dictatorial politics of Napoleon Bonaparte. Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Lafayette resumed his political career as a member of the Chamber of Deputies in 1815 and from 1818 to 1824. He toured the United States in 1824 during which time Congress voted him a gift of $200,000 and a large tract of land. Marquis de Lafayette, the statesman and general, maintained the convictions of democracy, social equality, and religious freedom throughout the remainder of his life.

The City of New York acquired this property by condemnation on July 28, 1870 along with the land used to build Morningside Park. The square contains large, shady sycamore trees and a monument entitled “Lafayette and Washington.” French sculptor FredericAuguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) designed the bronze statue, which depicts both figures on a marble pedestal, clothed in colonial uniforms, and shaking hands with the flags of their respective countries behind them. Famed publisher, Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) commissioned the sculpture based on the artist’s previous major accomplishment: the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor. Bartholdi completed the original “Lafayette and Washington,” which was dedicated in Paris in 1895. At the turn of the century, department store owner Charles Broadway Rouss bequeathed this fine replica to the residents of Morningside Heights.

Riverside Park

Riverside Drive to the Hudson River, from West 110th Street (Central Park North) to West 125th Street (Clair Place)

Nearby Zip Codes: 10019, 10023, 10024, 10025, 10026, 10027, 10031, 10032

Nearby Neighborhoods: Morningside Heights, and Manhattanville

Riverside Park is one of only eight officially designated scenic landmarks in the City of New York. Rugged bluffs and rocky outcroppings created through prehistoric glacial deposits once descended directly to the Hudson River shore. They were densely wooded until 1846, when the Hudson River Railroad cut through the forested hillside. Acknowledging the city’s expansion northward, Central Park Commissioner William R.

Martin proposed in 1865 that a scenic drive and park be built on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The land between the heights and the railroad was bought by the City over the next two years.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), renowned co-designer of Central and Prospect Parks, was commissioned in 1873 and submitted a plan two years later combining park and parkway into a synthesized landscape which adhered to the general topographical contours of hill and dale. Over the next twenty-five years park designs were developed under a succession of landscape architects, including Samuel Parsons (1844–1923) and Olmsted’s partner, Calvert Vaux (1824–1895). The result, stretching from West 72nd to 125th Streets, was a park with grand, tree-lined boulevards, combined with an Englishstyle rustic park with informally arranged trees and shrubs, contrasting natural enclosures, and open vistas.

The development of the park encouraged the construction of mansions along the drive. At the turn of the century, the City Beautiful movement sought to promote more dignified civic architecture, and found expression in the formal neo-classical detailing of the park’s extension from the 125th Street viaduct to 155th Street. Monuments placed along the drive during this era included Grant’s Tomb (1897), Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (1902), Firemen’s Memorial (1913), and Joan of Arc (1915).

The increased rail traffic and waterfront industries founded on shoreline landfill adjacent to Riverside Park led to an outcry by wealthy residents for action against these uses. After decades of discussion, a massive park expansion plan, crafted by architect Clinton Lloyd with landscape architect Gilmore Clarke, was implemented between 1934 and 1937 under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981). The park was widened westward by 148 acres, and the Henry Hudson Parkway, ball fields, esplanade, 79th Street Marina, and Rotunda were added to it.

In 1980, Riverside Park was designated an official city landmark. In 1994, Council Member Ronnie M. Eldridge funded a renovation of the 79th Street Marina’s docks at a cost of $1.3 million. Council Member Eldridge also helped fund an $8 million renovation of the Rotunda, and construction is slated to begin soon.

In 2000, seven acres of land stretching from 68th to 72nd Streets was added to Riverside Park, called Riverside Park South. This section of the park, part of a proposed 25-acre, $16 million project yet to be completed, was made possible by the construction of new portions of the West Side Highway, now known as the Joe DiMaggio Highway, and New World (the site’s developers). Riverside Park South includes a soccer field, three basketball courts, and a public pier extending 750 feet into the Hudson River.

The Riverside Park Fund, a community-based volunteer organization, contributes up to $1 million each year to fund projects in the park in places such as the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza, 87th Street Dog Run, and 73rd Street Track. The group also funds salaries for park workers. Several recent and ongoing renovations have helped ensure that Riverside Park will continue to serve the two million-plus users that take advantage of this Upper West Side treasure each year.

In 1998, Council Member Ronnie M. Eldridge funded a renovation of the cantilevered riverwalk between 83rd and 91st Streets at a cost of $1.5 million. Council Member Stanley E. Michels funded a $1.4 million restoration of the path between 143rd and 148th Streets, scheduled to begin shortly. Council Member Eldridge also funded a $3.15 million reconstruction of the South Lawn, to be completed in upcoming years.

Carrère Memorial

This commemorative terrace and balustrade, part of the staircase inserted at 97th Street into the 19th-century, rustic perimeter wall enclosing Riverside Park, honors the distinguished architect John Mervin Carrère (1858–1911).

Carrère was born on November 9, 1858 to a prosperous American family then living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was educated at public schools in Lausanne, Switzerland, and studied at the Institute Breitenstein in Grenchen, Switzerland, and at the Ecole des BeauxArts in Paris, France (1877-82). After graduating from the Ecole, Carrère was a draftsman with the esteemed architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White in New York City. In the

Riverside Park monument

mid-1880s he formed a partnership with architect Thomas Hastings (1860–1921) whom he had met in Paris and worked with at McKim, Mead and White.

The firm of Carrère and Hastings produced some of New York City’s finest and most notable edifices. Their early work was characterized by extensive ornamentation; their later work incorporated French Baroque and American Georgian elements, and displayed an increasing refinement indebted to classicism. The firm’s vast output included major civic buildings, private residences, public plazas and parks. Some of their better known works include the New York Public Library, the Frick mansion (today the Frick Museum), the Manhattan Bridge approaches and triumphal archway, Staten Island Borough Hall, Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan, and the landmarked bathhouse on Manhattan’s lower east side, which today is known as the Hamilton Fish Recreation Center. The work of Carrère and his partner helped shape the appearance of this growing city, as grand civic structures and public spaces were built in an era later dubbed the “City Beautiful Movement.”

In 1891 Carrère was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and served on the AIA’s board of directors until his death. Carrère was the chairman of the Board of Architects of the Pan-American Exposition in 1901 in Buffalo, New York. He was on a state commission in Ohio that redesigned a section of Cleveland, and served on similar commissions in Baltimore, Maryland and Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was a consulting architect to the Federal Government, and designed the annex to United States Capitol in Washington, D. C. that is used as a senate office building.

An active participant in the cultural life of the city, Carrère was a member of the Architectural League of New York, a Vice President of the National Sculpture Society, and served twice as president of both the New York Chapter of the AIA and of the Beaux-Arts Society. He was a founder of the Fine Arts Federation of New York City, a member of the National Institue of Arts and Letters, and served as a member of the New York City Art Commission.

On March 1, 1911 Carrère died as a result of an automobile accident, only two months before the official opening of the New York Public Library he had helped design. The day of his funeral on March 3, his body lay in state in the rotunda of the nearly finished library. Hastings continued to run the firm, later partnering with other architects.

This memorial was designed by Thomas Hastings, and includes a pink granite commemorative tablet on which is carved a parting curtain revealing the name of Carrère and the years of his birth and death. Commissioned at a cost of $9,000, the memorial was a gift to the City in 1916.

Riverside Drive, alongside Riverside Park

Cherry Walk

Cherry Walk is part of Riverside Walk, a continuous four-mile-long path along the Hudson River from 72nd to 158th Street. Named for the cherry trees (Prunus) along the path between 100th and 125th Streets, this part of Riverside Park was added in the 1930s when the park was expanded by filling in the river as part of the construction of the West Side Highway.

Riverside Park, one of only eight officially designated scenic landmarks in the City of New York, has a long and storied history. The rugged bluffs and rocky outcroppings once descended directly to the Hudson River shore and were densely wooded during the Native American habitation. In 1846 the Hudson River Railroad was cut through the forested hillside. Acknowledging the city’s expansion northward, Central Park Commissioner William R. Martin proposed in 1865 that a scenic drive and park be built on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The land between the heights and the railroad was acquired by the city over the next two years.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), renowned co-designer of Central and Prospect Parks, was retained in 1873 and submitted a plan in 1875 combining park and parkway into a synthesized landscape which adhered to the general topographical contours of hill and dale. Over the next twenty-five years park designs developed under a succession of landscape architects, including Olmsted’s partner Calvert Vaux (1824–1895) and Samuel Parsons (1844–1923). The result, stretching then from West 72nd to 125th Streets, was a grand tree-lined boulevard; an English-style rustic park with informally arranged trees and shrubs, contrasting natural enclosures, and open vistas.

Originally this part of the park was home to railroad tracks and unsightly dumps. In

1894, state legislature expanded Riverside Park to include the blighted land, and the Parks Department and neighborhood residents became involved in the renovation of the area.

In 1909, a naval parade from New York City to Newburgh, New York, in honor of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration began from this part of the river. The 18-day celebration commemorated the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s (1765–1815) demonstration of steam-power on the Hudson River and the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s (d. 1611?) discovery and exploration of the river. As part of the celebration, the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York presented 2,000 cherry trees as a gift to the city. The surviving trees of the original planting of 700, part of the same batch of trees planted in Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin, can be found elsewhere in Riverside Park, in nearby Sakura Park, and Central Park.

Plans to improve the site were first proposed in the early 20th century, and when the railroad expanded from two to six tracks, New York Central Railroad, under pressure from nearby residents, consented to covering the tracks. Plans to reconstruct the area took a twist, however, with the construction of the West Side Highway. Several “West Side Improvement” designs were proposed; an earlier plan by the noted architectural firm McKim, Mead and White placed the proposed parkway over the train tracks. Robert Moses (1888–1981), who first noticed the site’s potential as a fledgling civil servant, made transforming the waterfront one of his top priorities when he became Parks Commissioner in 1934. Moses opted instead to use the top of the enclosed train tracks for parkland, allowing the roadway to wend through the landfill-reinforced riverbank.

Under Moses’s direction, Gilmore D. Clarke and Clinton Lloyd, Parks landscape architects, designed a plan that afforded automobile drivers scenic views of the river while adding recreational facilities such as playgrounds and ball fields along the new expanse of land between the tracks and roadway. The West Side Improvement plan was completed in 1937 and added 132 acres to the park. The new landscape differed from Olmsted’s typically English garden design, utilizing the wall that covered the tracks as a backdrop for the new recreation features.

This link in the Hudson River Valley Greenway was completed in 2001, is part of one of several designated “greenways” in New York City on which only bicyclists and pedestrians are allowed. The project, which included an additional 35 new cherry trees, was funded by the Federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and the State Environmental Quality Bond Act. Part of the greenway system first envisioned by Commissioner Moses trails on the Hudson River Valley Greenway which eventually will stretch from Battery Park in Manhattan to Battery Park in Waterford, New York.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Cyrus Clark Sculpture

This impressive sculptural bronze relief of local financier and civic planner Cyrus Clark (1830–1909) was created by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown (1857–1935), and dates to 1911.

Clark was an important leader in the financial community of late 19th century New York. He served as the director of the Hamilton Bank, and was a strong advocate for the commercial and residential community interests of the Upper West Side. He was a founding member of the executive committee, and was later the president of the West Side Association (WSA), formed by a group of influential businessmen in 1870 to promote public improvements north of 59th Street and west of Central Park.

In its early years, the WSA lobbied on behalf of public street and park improvements, and the extension of rapid transit to the area. They helped to bar commercial properties from West End Avenue, and promoted its exclusivity. After initiating the construction of Riverside Drive, they battled with the New York Central Railroad, and began the process— implemented in the 1930s—of covering the railroad tracks that ran through Riverside Park and disrupted its bucolic nature.

Clark’s friends, neighbors, and associates came together to commission a memorial in his honor, and they retained the services of the noted sculptor Henry Kirke BushBrown. Bush-Brown was the nephew and surrogate son of Henry Kirke Brown, who sculpted the equestrian statue of George Washington, which stands at the south side of Union Square Park at 14th Street and Broadway. He had a long and prolific career, in which he received numerous public and private commissions.

One of Bush-Brown’s best-known works is the Lincoln Memorial in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which he completed the same year as the portrait of Cyrus Clark. In New York City, he also sculpted the figure of Justinian on the Appellate Court Building opposite Madison Square Park, and the figure of Commander Hall on the temporary Dewey Arch that once straddled Fifth Avenue at 24th Street. Brown’s relief of Clark is imbedded in a natural rock outcropping near the 83rd Street entrance to Riverside Park.

Eleanor Roosevelt Monument

Riverside Park, one of only eight officially designated scenic landmarks in the City of New York, has a long and storied history. The rugged bluffs and rocky outcroppings created through prehistoric glacial deposits once descended directly to the Hudson River shore and were densely wooded during the Native American habitation. In 1846 the Hudson River Railroad was cut through the forested hillside. Acknowledging the city’s expansion northward, Central Park Commissioner William R. Martin proposed in 1865 that a scenic drive and park be built on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The land between the heights and the railroad was bought by the City over the next two years.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), renowned co-designer of Central and Prospect Parks, was retained in 1873 and submitted a plan in 1875 combining park and parkway into a synthesized landscape which adhered to the general topographical contours of hill and dale. Over the next twenty-five years park designs developed under a succession of landscape architects, including Olmsted’s partner Calvert Vaux (1824-1895) and Samuel Parsons (1844-1923). The result, stretching then from West 72nd to 125th Streets, was a grand tree-lined boulevard, an English-style rustic park with informally arranged trees and shrubs, contrasting natural enclosures and open vistas.

The development of the park encouraged the construction of mansions along the drive. At the turn of the century, a movement dubbed the “City Beautiful” sought to promote a more dignified civic architecture, and found expression in the formal neoclassical detailing of the park’s extension from the 125th Street viaduct to 155th Street. Monuments placed along the Drive during this era included Grant’s Tomb (1897), the

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (1902), the Firemen’s Memorial (1913), and Joan of Arc (1915).

The increased rail traffic and waterfront industries founded on landfill extending the shoreline led to an outcry by wealthy residents for municipal action against these uses as unpleasant to the park and community. After decades of discussion a massive park expansion plan, crafted by architect Clinton Lloyd with landscape architect Gilmore Clarke, was implemented between 1934 and 1937 under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. The park was widened westward by 148 acres, and the Henry Hudson Parkway, ball fields, esplanade, 79th Street marina and rotunda were added to it.

The monument, honoring humanitarian and First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (18841962), was dedicated at 72nd Street on October 5, 1996 in the presence of Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States. Penelope Jencks was the sculptor. A new landscape on the site of a former West Side Highway access ramp was designed by Bruce Kelly/David Varnell Landscape Architects. Funding for the $1.3 million Eleanor Roosevelt Monument project, which included a renovated entranceway, was provided by the City of New York, the State of New York, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument Fund, which has established an endowment for the ongoing maintenance of the sculpture.

Firemen’s Memorial

The Firemen’s Memorial (1913) in Riverside Park is one of the most impressive monuments in New York City. The monument was designed by H. Van Buren Magonigle (1867-1935), and its sculptures are attributed to Attilio Piccirilli (1866-1945).

Riverside Drive stretches along Riverside Park and the Hudson River from West 72nd Street to Dyckman Street. When New York started expanding northward, the City acquired land, in 1866-67, for a park and scenic drive between the Hudson River Railroad and the rocky bluffs along the river. The original 1875 plan, by Frederick Law Olmsted, the co-designer of Central Park, called for a park with a picturesque drive winding along the natural contours of the land. Twenty-five years later, the result was an English-style rustic park and a formal tree-lined boulevard.

A fashionable address at the turn of the 20th century, Riverside Drive attracted a collection of substantial neoclassical apartment houses and mansions along its eastern side. The Drive’s majestic elevation also made it an impressive location for colossal monuments and institutions, including Grant’s Tomb (1897) and Riverside Church (1930). The Firemen’s Memorial is one of more than a dozen monuments along Riverside Drive, including sculptures of Franz Sigel (1907), Joan of Arc (1915), Samuel Tilden (1926), Lajos Kossuth (1930), and Eleanor Roosevelt (1996).

This monument is said to have had its origins in the remarks of the Right Reverend Henry C. Potter at the funeral of Deputy Fire Chief Charles A. Kruger in 1908. Bishop Potter said that while there were many memorials to public and private citizens there were none “to our brave citizens who have lost or will sacrifice their lives in a war that never ends.” Potter was the first chairman of the memorial committee, succeeded by Isidor Straus (1845-1912), a founder of Macy’s department store, who lived at 105th Street and West End Avenue and died on the R.M.S. Titanic. The committee raised $90,500, of which $50,500 was through popular subscription and $40,000 was in public funds allocated by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment on July 17, 1911.

Though originally intended for the north end of Union Square, the monument was ultimately built on the hillside facing the Hudson River at 100th Street. The memorial comprises a grand staircase (once flanked by ornamental luminaires), a balustraded plaza, a fountain basin, and the central monument. Made of Knoxville marble, the monument is a sarcophagus-like structure with a massive bas-relief of horses drawing an engine to a fire (the original was replaced by a bronze replica in the 1950s); to the south and north are allegorical sculpture groups representing “Duty” and “Sacrifice,” for which the celebrated model Audrey Munson (1891-1996) is said to have posed.

The architect, Magonigle, also designed the memorial to President William McKinley (1843-1901) in Canton, Ohio. Piccirilli, the sculptor, came from a family of master Italian stone carvers who settled in New York City and had a studio in the Bronx. They contributed sculptural and ornamental carving to the Washington Square Arch and the Pulitzer Fountain. Attilio Piccirilli also collaborated with Magonigle on the Maine Monument at Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of Central Park.

The memorial exemplifies a classical grandeur that characterized several civic monuments built in New York City from the 1890s to World War I, as part of an effort dubbed the City Beautiful Movement, which was meant to improve the standard of urban public design and achieve an uplifting union of art and architecture. This monument has twice undergone extensive restoration, once in the late 1930s, through a W.P.A.sponsored conservation program, and more recently through a $2 million city-funded capital project completed in 1992.

The monument was dedicated on September 5, 1913, and was formally accepted on behalf of the city by Mayor William Gaynor (1848-1913), who died later that month. Each autumn, the incumbent mayor joins the fire commissioner and thousands of uniformed firefighters at the Firemen’s Memorial to honor the memory of firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This well-attended ceremony reaffirms the dedication of these public servants, who perform heroic acts on a daily basis.

On September 11, 2001 the Fire Department suffered by far its worst loss in a single day, when 343 firefighters died in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. Their heroism in the face of death demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the public’s safety, and in the weeks following the tragedy, this monument became a vigil site and shrine for those in mourning.

Franz Sigel Statue

This bronze equestrian sculpture of military officer, educator, journalist, and public servant Franz Sigel (1824–1902) is by the distinguished sculptor Karl Bitter (1867–1915). Sigel is also honored with a park named for him, which is located at 158th Street and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.

Sigel was a patriot both in his native land of Germany and in his adopted home in the United States. He was born on November 18, 1824, in Sinsheim, Baden. He completed his studies at the Gymnasium of Bruchsal, graduated from the military academy of Karlsruhe in 1843, and then became a lieutenant in the grand ducal service. However, his liberal views were in conflict with the existing regime. After leading an unsuccessful revolutionary force in 1848, he was forced to flee to Switzerland. He traveled in exile to England in 1851, and then to the United States a year later.

After settling in New York City in 1852, he taught in public schools and German schools, co-founded the German-American Institute, joined the Fifth New York Militia, and wrote for the New Yorker, Staats-Zeitung, and the New York Times. He moved to St. Louis in 1857 to teach at the German-American Institute.

At the outset of the American Civil War, Sigel formed a regiment that helped to keep Missouri and its federal arsenal for the Union. Rising to the rank of major general in the Union Army, he fought in several decisive campaigns including Pea Ridge and the Second Battle of Bull Run. He is credited with encouraging many German-Americans to fight for the Union. Sigel returned to New York in 1867, first working in the transportation industry and then serving in various positions in local and federal government. He then resumed his career in journalism as the publisher of the New York Deutsches Volksblatt and editor of the New York Monthly. He died on August 21, 1902.

In 1904, a monument committee commissioned Karl Bitter to sculpt his portrait. Bitter was born in Austria and trained in Europe before immigrating to the United States in 1889. He created numerous sculptures for wealthy private clients such as the Vanderbilts and Astors, as well as many public works of art, including the statue of Carl Schurz (1913) in Morningside Park. Before his death in a car accident, he modeled the maquette for the figure of Pomona atop the Pulitzer Fountain (1913-1916) in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza. His masterful portrait of Sigel was one in a series of sculptures he made of foreignborn American military heroes, including the Marquis de Lafayette and Baron Von Steuben.

With the Franz Sigel commission, Bitter took great care in determining its location at the top of a staircase where West 106th Street meets Riverside Drive. The granite pedestal projects beyond the top step and rests on a secondary stone base. It was dedicated in 1907. In 1941 Sigel’s bronze sword was dislodged and reattached by Parks crews, and was later removed to storage for safekeeping. In the late 1980s, the Parks monuments crew cleaned and waxed the statue, and the monument is presently slated for conservation and restoration of the sword. Recent horticultural enhancements to the adjoining hillside have been supported by the Green streets program and the Riverside Park Fund.

Green Street by Riverside Church, Peregrine Falcons in New York City

This Green Street, located between 102th and 122nd Streets and Riverside Drive, is a prime spot in New York City for sighting peregrine falcons. The reemergence of the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in North America is one of the environmental movement’s greatest success stories. Until the middle of the 20th century, the crow-sized, dark-capped, blue-gray peregrines ruled the skies and rocky mountaintops from Alaska all the way to Georgia, preying on smaller birds such as sparrows and pigeons. One of nature’s most skilled hunters, the peregrine falcon dive-bombs its prey at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Capable of flying at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in level flight, the peregrine is one of the world’s fastest birds.

But in the 1950s and ‘60s, the chemical DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), used widely in agricultural pesticides, found its way up the food chain. The sparrows, pigeons, and other small birds that peregrines hunted fed on insects contaminated with DDT. Due to the process of bio-magnification, DDT accumulated in the peregrines, causing their eggs to become too weak to even support the weight of the mother incubating her eggs. The eggs shattered before fledglings could hatch. By the time DDT was finally banned in 1972, there was not a single peregrine falcon left east of the Mississippi.

When the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, peregrine falcons were one of the first species to receive protection. Restoration efforts were launched throughout the 1970s and ‘80s; during that time, 150 young captivity-bred Peale’s peregrine falcons (the eastern peregrine subspecies being extinct) were released in New York State, to reclaim nesting sites in the rocky peaks and crags of the Adirondacks and Hudson River Palisades.

Over the years, peregrines have moved farther and farther into New York City, taking up residences on the exteriors of skyscrapers and bridges. Pairs of peregrine falcons have been found nesting on the window ledges of such buildings as the Metropolitan Life Building (1 Madison Avenue), the Bank of New York (48 Wall Street), and the St. Regis

Hotel (2 East 55th Street) in Manhattan. In addition to the Verrazano Narrows and Throgs Neck bridges, peregrines have been seen on the Manhattan tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as on an old gun turret on the Marine Parkway. A peregrine was once even spotted above Times Square. These man-made aeries provide perfect residences for the birds – isolated, easily approachable by air, and with great views of territory and of prey.

By 1999, the peregrine falcon had recovered sufficiently to be moved off the Endangered Species List. Over 145 falcons have been successfully hatched and banded by biologists in New York City since 1983, and have been found raising their own families as far away as Baltimore and Wisconsin.

Hamilton Fountain

This ornate, baroque-styled marble fountain, dedicated in 1906, was commissioned posthumously by Robert Ray Hamilton, who bequeathed $9,000 to the city for its creation and installation.

Reputedly a descendant of statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804), “this” Hamilton was a real-estate owner in Manhattan’s West 20s and 30s. This fountain was originally intended to be placed in a small park in the vicinity. He was active in politics, an avid sportsman, and big-game hunter, who died on a hunting trip in 1890.

The esteemed architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore–their more notable buildings include Grand Central Terminal, Chelsea Piers, and the Con Edison Tower–was retained to design the fountain. Made of Tennessee marble, the lavishly carved fountain is surmounted by an eagle with wings spread, beneath which are decorative motifs, a coat of arms, a dolphins’ head spray feature, a shell-shaped spill basin, and a larger foliate catch basin. The fountain is inserted into the 19th century rustic retaining wall of the earliest portions of Riverside Park. Funds are now sought to restore the missing eagle’s beak, clean, reappoint, and repair the monument.

Though today, with the inclusion of aquatic plants, the Hamilton Fountain is largely decorative, when it was erected the horses of well to do travelers in carriages would have put this watering hope to active use. At that time the streets of Manhattan were frequented by thousands of horses on a daily basis–equine transport being the principal means of conveying goods and people throughout the city–and numerous watering fountains and troughs could be found along thoroughfares and traffic intersections. Many were erected by humane societies such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and besides serving a necessary function in preserving the health of beasts of burden, these roadside fountains often exhibited a degree of artistry in their design and ornamentation. The decline of horse-drawn commercial vehicles resulted in the virtual elimination of these fountains by World War II.

This impressive bronze equestrian sculpture of 15th century French patriot and martyr

Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc Park

Joan of Arc (1411–1431) is one of the finest works of art in the Parks collection. Created by the eminent artist and art patron Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (1876–1973), the piece was dedicated in 1915.

Jeanne La Pucelle, later known as Joan of Arc, was a peasant maiden said to have been divinely inspired to help liberate the French from English rule. Through her determination, she was able to gain an audience with the Dauphin of France, later to be King Charles VII, at the time when the city of Orleans was under siege. Charles appointed her commander-in-chief of a small provisional army, which under her inspired command forced the English to withdraw in 1429. With the siege lifted, the Dauphin was crowned in Reims Cathedral, with Joan seated in the place of honor next to him.

Though a popular figure, Joan was restrained by the new King from marching on Paris. In 1430, while conducting an unofficial campaign, she was captured by Burgundian soldiers at Compiegne, and sold to the English, who charged her with witchcraft and heresy. She was subjected to a long trial in a French ecclesiastical court presided over by the Bishop of Beauvais, and was eventually found guilty and condemned to death. On May 31, 1431, she was burned at the stake. Twenty years later an investigation into Joan’s trial proceedings led to the annulment of her sentence. On May 16, 1920, nearly 500 years later, Jeanne la Pucelle was canonized as Saint Joan by Pope Benedict XV.

The exploits of this heroine from the Middle Ages have been revisited by authors and artists ever since her death. Among the many notable works surrounding her myth are Mark Twain’s novel The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), a fictionalized account of her life, playwright George Bernard Shaw’s political play Saint Joan (1923), and Carl-Theodor Dryer’s landmark silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928).

In New York, a prominent group of citizens formed a Joan of Arc monument committee in 1909. Their efforts coincided with those of a young sculptor, Anna Hyatt Huntington, to create a sculpture of Joan. Her first version, in which she emphasized “the spiritual rather than the warlike point of view,” was submitted to the prestigious Salon in Paris. It received an honorable mention from the jury, nevertheless skeptical that such an accomplished work of art could have been made solely by a woman.

The New York monument committee, headed by J. Sanford Saltus, was so impressed by her work, that they awarded her the commission. Architect John van Pelt was retained to design the pedestal, which is made of Mohegan granite composed of Gothic-style blind arches, decorated with coats of arms. A few limestone blocks from the tower in Rouen where Joan of Arc had been imprisoned were incorporated into the base. Van Pelt situated the monument at the top of the steps in the park island at 93rd Street and Riverside, and had planted a screen of trees to disguise the buildings.

Huntington’s version is both heroic and infused with naturalistic detail. For Joan’s armor, she conducted research at the arms and armory division of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the refinement of the equine anatomy was based on a horse borrowed from the fire department of her native town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Her niece posed astride a barrel, as she modeled the figure, first nude, then in costume.

On December 6, 1915, the sculpture was unveiled in an elaborate ceremony, which included a military band and French Ambassador Jean J. Jusserand. Mrs. Thomas Alva Edison was among those selected to pull the cord that released the shroud. Huntington went on to have a long and illustrious career, and also sculpted the statue of the Cuban patriot, José Martí (1965), which stands at Central Park South and Avenue of the Americas. A replica of Joan of Arc stands in front of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

In 1939, Parks repaired Joan’s sword, which had been broken, reconstituted the bronze statue, and repaired the staircase. In 1987, the sculpture again underwent a full conservation financed by the Grand Marnier Foundation through the Municipal Art Society’s Adopt-A-Monument Program.

Samuel Tilden Statue

William Ordway Partridge (1861–1930) sculpted this bronze, larger-than-life figure of attorney and public servant Samuel Jones Tilden (1814–1886). It was dedicated October 5, 1926.

Tilden was born on February 9, 1814 in New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York. As an undergraduate, he studied at both Yale University and the University of the City of New York (now New York University). He graduated from Yale in 1837. Tilden enrolled the following year as a law student at the University of the City of New York. Tilden was admitted to the bar in 1841 and he practiced law in New York City. His high-profile clients included more than half the railway corporations north of the Ohio and between the Hudson and Missouri Rivers. Although he probably did not graduate from any law school, Yale University awarded him an honorary L.L.B. in 1875

Tilden was active in city, state, and national politics. Elected to the state assembly in

1845, he also served in the Constitutional Convention of 1846 and ran on the Democratic ticket for Attorney General in 1855. He was a member of the Free Soil movement, which fought the extension of slavery into U.S. Territories. In 1863, Tilden moved into a home on Gramercy Park. He combined that house with an adjacent townhouse in 1874 to form a mansion where he resided until his death. The mansion has been the home of the National Arts Club since 1905.

By 1868, Tilden had assumed the leadership of the Democratic Party in New York State. In 1870, he launched a high-profile attack on the Tweed Ring, which had dominated New York City government from 1860 to 1871. Tilden helped to impeach several judges, exposed the plunder amassed by certain Tweed officials, prosecuted many of them on behalf of the state, and described the Ring’s illegal dealings in the pages of the New York Times.

Campaigning as a reform candidate for the Democrats, Tilden was elected Governor of New York State in 1874. His anti-corruption platform won him the Democratic presidential nomination in 1876. Although Tilden won a majority of the popular vote, he lost the Electoral College vote, 185-184, to Rutherford B. Hayes. The election was widely regarded as having been stolen by the Republicans, who formed the majority of the commission that was appointed to determine the vote of three Southern states, each of which had two sets of electors. He died at his country home, known as Greystone, in Yonkers on August 4, 1886.

Tilden left a fortune of several million dollars. His bequest of his large book collection, as well as six million dollars, ultimately led to the creation of the New York Public Library. He also set aside $50,000 for a commemorative statue to be erected in his honor. Tilden’s heirs contested his will, squandering much of his amassed wealth in the process, and delayed both his bequest to the library and the installation of this statue. Disagreement over the site as well as disputes between the sponsors and the sculptor postponed installation of the monument a staggering 40 years after Tilden’s death. The original design by architects Wilder and White placed the monument within an exedra located at Park Avenue and 34th Street, but extant plans for street improvements at that spot forced the designers to this alternative location.

The Tilden statue is one of more than a dozen monuments that grace Riverside Drive. William Ordway Partridge depicted Tilden in a solemn stance, his hand resting on a copy of the United States Constitution. One of Tilden’s biographers said that this document was, along with Jefferson’s writings, his “Mother Goose.” Given his disputed loss in the Electoral College, the inscription in the pedestal is not without irony: it reads, “I trust the people.” The sculpture is set within a terrace paved with river stone, and is framed by granite benches. Partridge also sculpted the statues of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton on the campus of Columbia University, as well as the Grant equestrian statue in Brooklyn’s Grant Square Gore.

In 2000, the City Parks Foundation Monuments Conservation Program restored the statue. The terrace, surrounding landscape, and Lajos Kossuth statue were renovated by a $350,000 capital project funded by Council Member, now Manhattan Borough President, C. Virginia Fields.

Seventy-Ninth Street Boat Basin

Parks and Recreation created this Boat Basin for the people of New York and the recreational boaters of the world.

Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s 1875 design for Riverside Park provided for the existing rail lines and sculpted Riverside Drive. Those early accommodations for transportation technology would only multiply over time. When Robert Moses first laid eyes on Riverside Park in the early 20th century, industry and time had taken their toll. Two tracks became six and vacant land on the riverfront became dumps. It disgusted Moses, but also motivated him to dream of an amazing riverside redevelopment plan with decking over tracks that would yield new parkland and public amenities. He believed this waterfront could be “the most beautiful thing in the world.” At the time however, Moses was 25 and far from being able to implement his dream.

Twenty years later City/State Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who also headed the Triborough Bridge Authority, had all the power he needed to finally make his visions a reality. Funding for the project came from various federal work relief funds. One of the main categories of projects the federal government sought to fund was infrastructure improvement, including the elimination of places where train tracks crossed roads. With this Moses presented the plans for his very unusual and expensive “Seventy-ninth Street Grade Elimination Structure.” In reality this structure, which stands more than 200 feet away from the rail line, was the beautiful boat basin Moses envisioned as a young man.

Since the time it opened, in 1937, the boat basin has been home to New York City boaters. For many years, a limited number of boats held year round access to slips at the basin, which limited access for seasonal and recreational boating. Since 1991, no additional year-round permits have been issued, and the boat basin is returning to its original mission. By 2003 70% of the marina’s 170 slips and moorings were used by seasonal, recreational boaters. For the past ten years kayaks have become a common sight on the Hudson River, and so in June of 2003 Parks dedicated a launch just for canoes and kayaks.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

This massive circular temple-like monument located along Riverside Drive at 89th Street commemorates Union Army soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil War. This monument, one of the few in a city park that the New York Landmark Commission designated a landmark, was designed by architects Charles (1860–1944) and Arthur Stoughton (1867–1955), who won a competition with this ancient Greek design.

The marble monument, with its pyramidal roof and 12 Corinthian columns, is based on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens. It was commissioned by the State of New York, and dedicated on Memorial Day in 1902. Sculptor Paul E. Duboy carved the ornamental features on the monument. The pillars list the New York volunteer regiments that served during the battle as well as Union generals and the battles in which they led troops. For years the monument was the terminus of New York City’s annual Memorial Day parade.

In 1961 the City spent more than $1 million to fix the monument’s marble façade, which had deteriorated, and portions of the monument were replaced with more durable granite.

The Amiable Child Monument

This unique New York City monument marks the site of one of the few private graves on public land within the five boroughs. It belongs to St. Claire Pollock (the namesake of nearby St. Clair Place), a child who died on July 15, 1797 in the fifth year of his life, probably from a fall from the cliffs of the parkland onto the rocks near the Hudson River.

In the two centuries that have passed since the tragedy of the “Amiable Child”–as he was described on his headstone–different accounts of St. Claire’s origins and family have persisted. George Pollock, the owner of the property on which the boy was buried, was either his father or his uncle. He was a linen merchant of Scots-Irish, or possibly English descent, who lived in a mansion on Strawberry Hill (later called Claremont) in the 1790s. He had sold his property to Mrs. Cornelia Verplanck, his former neighbor, by January 18, 1800 when he wrote as follows:

“There is a small enclosure near your boundary fence within which lie the remains of a favorite child, covered by a marble monument. You will confer a peculiar and interesting favor upon me by allowing me to convey the enclosure to you so that you will consider it a part of your own estate, keeping it, however, always enclosed and sacred.”

Claremont Hill was the site of the Battle of Harlem Heights, fought during the Revolutionary War, on September 16, 1776. By 1806 it had been acquired by Michael Hogan, a former British Consul in Havana, who built Claremont Mansion (for which Claremont Avenue was named). Possible sources for the name are Hogan’s birthplace of County Clare, Ireland and his friend Prince William, Duke of Clarence, who would ascend the English throne as King William IV in 1830. Known as the site of a popular roadside inn by 1860, Claremont was acquired by the City from the heirs of Joel Post in 1873, for the development of Riverside Park.

In the 1890s Claremont Inn was host to numerous politicians, socialites and entertainers including the Morgans, Vanderbilts and Whitneys, Lillian Russell, and Admiral George Dewey. By 1907 the Inn had been transformed into a restaurant, serving the likes of Cole Porter and James J. Walker. It was destroyed by fire in 1950. The playground which now stands on the site was built shortly afterwards.

A century after the Tomb of the Amiable Child was laid, New York’s most famous monumental grave–Grant’s Tomb–was completed. The domed structure across Riverside Drive, designed by architect John Duncan and sculptor John Massey Rhind, was dedicated on April 27, 1897. The latter structure is as grand a testimony to the accomplishments of national leader as the monument to the amiable child is a modest and touching tribute to a young boy who never had the opportunity to grow into adulthood.

Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Plaza

For more than half a century this circular plaza at the southern end of the promenade at

Drive, Soldiers and Sailors Monument, inscription

West 83rd Street in Riverside Park has served as a place of contemplation and remembrance of the victims of Nazi brutality. The plaza takes its name from the modest granite plaque at its center. One of the first Holocaust monuments in the United States, the plaque and its surroundings were dedicated on October 19, 1947 by Mayor William O’Dwyer. A crowd of 15,000 attended, including 100 survivors of the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. Each year on April 19, people gather here in memory of the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto, who rose up against their Nazi captors, and the six million other Jews martyred during World War II.

Buried beneath the plaque are two boxes containing soil from Terezin and Sered, two concentration camps in Czechoslovakia, and a scroll describing the defense of the Warsaw Ghetto, in both Hebrew and English, composed by the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. In November 1940, the Nazis confined the Jews of Warsaw within an 840-acre neighborhood (home to more than 400,000 Jews at its peak) and kept them in a state of near-starvation and rampant disease. The Ghetto was sealed off from the rest of the city by a ten foot high wall. The conditions were horrific: the mortality rate in the Ghetto reached over 6,000 per month.

In the summer of 1942, 300,000 Jews were deported by train to the Treblinka concentration camp. The Ghetto was now poised to be liquidated. In the spring of 1943, after news of an impending round of deportations, the remaining Jews vowed to fight rather than submit, and with smuggled weapons they rose up despite the dismal odds. Superbly organized into roughly 50 combat groups, the Jews managed to hold off the S.S. (elite Nazi troops), from April 19 to May 16. The Germans regained control by burning the Ghetto to near ruin. Some 15,000 of the 56,000 Jews who fought were killed and another 40,000 deported to concentration camps. Historians estimate that 300 Nazis were killed and another 1,000 wounded in the uprising.

The plaque was originally intended to serve as a cornerstone for a larger memorial. Over several decades sculpture proposals for this location were submitted by Jo Davidson, Percival Goodman, Ivan Mestrovic, and Erich Mendelsohn and Nathan Rapoport, among others, but none received funding. Over the years, the plaque itself has become the monument.

The 12,000-square-foot plaza, enclosed by garden planters, crabapple and locust trees, and a polychromed granite wall, was part of the West Side Improvement. The massive Riverside Park expansion directed by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, and designed by Gilmore D. Clarke and Clinton Loyd, was completed in 1937, and built largely with federal funds. In 1990 the perimeter gardens were designed and planted by David T. Goldstick.

In 2001, the plaza was restored and improved through a partnership between the Riverside Park Fund and the City of New York, part of a requirements contract funded by Mayor Giuliani. Major support was provided by the Deedy and David Goldstick Foundation, and in-kind contributions were received from the International Masonry Institute of the Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen. Landscape architect Gail E. Wittwer-Laird designed the restoration, utilizing stone patterns and details indicated, but not implemented, in the original 1930s plan. New bluestone curbing, lighting, and benches were installed, the perimeter gardens were extended and replanted, and the fencing was replaced. Today, the newly landscaped plaza provides a dignified memorial within this historic park.

Woman’s Health Protective Association Fountain

Located along Riverside Drive at 116th Street, this marble stele and drinking fountain was designed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Woman’s Health Protective Association (WHPA) of New York City in 1909.

Bruno Louis Zimm (1876–1943), who also created the Slocum Memorial Fountain in

Riverside Park, firefighter memorial monument

Manhattan’s Tompkins Square Park, received the commission to sculpt this monument. Dedicated in 1910, the stele depicts two female figures holding a lamp. These forms were representative of the Association’s commitment to shedding light on the public health issues facing women. The names of its members are inscribed along the benches to the right and left of the stele.

Members of the WHPA were usually part of the city’s elite, and Charlotte Wilbour, one of the names inscribed along the Riverside Park benches, helped to found the first New York City Woman Suffrage Association in 1870. This more radical branch of the movement (in comparison with the relatively conservative chapter in Boston) lobbied against the passage of the 15th amendment, which proposed to give suffrage to African-American men. Leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton opposed the male focus of the bill and suggested a new, 16th amendment in its place, one that would offer “universal suffrage” to all races, genders, and religions.

The dream of the founding suffragettes finally actualized on August 16, 1920, eleven years after this fountain was commissioned. With the vote in hand, the National Woman Suffrage Association disbanded, but its surviving members went on to become the core of the League of Women Voters and to continue the focus on women’s health issues in New York City.

St. Nicholas Park and City University of New York

Campus, Hamilton Heights (See Part of Town


Jackie Robinson Park, to the northeast, with an

Aqueduct Pool to Sports’ Fields, Central Harlem

(See Part of Town—Uptown)

Trinity Cemetery, West 153rd to 155th Street, covering Amsterdam Avenue to Broadway to

and Riverside Drive, Audubon Park

Marcus Garvey Park, Fire Tower, West 120th to

124th Streets, from Madison to the mid-Fifth-to- Sixth-Avenue block, South Harlem

Montefiore Plaza, West 136th to 138th Streets,

Hamilton Place to Broadway, Hamilton Heights

Convent Garden, West 151st to 152nd Streets,

along St. Nicholas Avenue, Sugar Hill