It’s tough being a tourist in New York.
In a city that is constantly evolving, there’s always an exhibition, restaurant, or landmark tojot down on the to-do list. It’s too hard to see and do it all in a matter of days, let alone a couple of weeks.
Strolling from East to West, subwaying Uptown and Downtown, taxiing from hotel to restaurant to bar, you’ll find yourself hard pressed to make it the northernmost point of Central Park.
That said, I gather that Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters, located in the far reaches of Manhattan, doesn’t make it on many travelers’ radars. Speaking from experience, I only visited the area today, as a resident.
Originally inhabited by the Weckquaesgeek Tribe, who lived in the area until the early 17th century, this densely forested high ground at the northern end of Manhattan was “Lang Bergh” or Long Hill to the early Dutch colonists. The Continental Army called the strategic series of posts along the Hudson River “Fort Washington” during the summer of 1776, until Hessian mercenaries fighting for the British forced the troops to retreat. The British then renamed the area for Sir William Tryon (1729–1788), Major General and the last British governor of colonial New York.*
Fort Tryon’s land was initially purchased by John D. Rockefeller in 1917. He donated it to New York City in 1935 when his vision for the Park was completed. It took four years for head designer, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of Central Park’s architect, to design and create the space that is today’s Fort Tryon Park.
Despite the twisting pathways, stone terraces, never-ending steps, and steep slopes, the park is relaxing to explore. From here, you’ll enjoy views of the Hudson River and Palisades State Park, which, located on the other side, Rockefeller also purchased in order to preserve Fort Tryon’s outlook.
I was so upset; I didn’t sleep for weeks… People were throwing their garbage out the window, leaving their lunches on the ground. Finally, I realized I needed to actually do something – even if it meant picking up trash with my own two hands. ~ Bette Midler, from Good Housekeeping Magazine
Bette, friends and family started removing garbage from Fort Tryon Park and Fort Washington Park in Upper Manhattan. This grassroots effort led to her to found the non-profit New York Restoration Project (www.nyrp.org).
This is the spirit of New York, the regeneration, restoration, revival, and rebirth of an ever-changing city.
Stretch the legs and take in spring’s beauty while strolling through the English-inspired Heather Garden. Listen to the chirping birds. It’s all about looking down, rather than up. Flowers in purples, yellows, and whites beckon buzzing bees and welcome a new season.
The Cloisters opened in the north end of Fort Tryon Park in 1938 after Rockefeller bought sculptor George Grey Barnard’s (1863–1938) collection of medieval art. Inspired by Romanesque monasteries, the museum includes several cloisters, or courtyards, from actual French monasteries. Now a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it was designated an official New York City landmark in 1974.*