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Riverside Park

West Harlem / Hamilton Heights / Sugar Hill

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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 English-style rustic park with informally arranged trees and shrubs, contrasting natural enclosures, and open vistas.

Parks & Outdoors: Parks Parks & Outdoors West Harlem / Hamilton Heights / Sugar Hill

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