Inwood Hill Park

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For nearly a century, the expansive, 196.4-acre Inwood Hill Park has provided a natural refuge amidst the fast-paced New York City lifestyle. While most people do not expect to find nature in one of the largest urban centers on the planet, this relaxing retreat for New Yorkers and visitors alike is a great place to stop and contemplate the last vestige of New York before more than eight million people lived here.

History

Long before settlers from Europe arrived, the Lenape Native Americans inhabited the Island of Manhattan. Despite the images that most people have of New York City today, the island in its natural state quite resembles the wooded forests of upstate New York and New England. Over time, the development of Manhattan as a major port of commerce brought immigrants and landowners alike to the small island which led to the development that is so synonymous with it today. Inwood Hill Park, however, which lies at the northwestern tip of Manhattan, is the last area that leaves evidence of Manhattan as Mother Nature defined her.

Inwood Hill Park lies along the banks of the Hudson River beginning at Dyckman Street and extending to the island’s northernmost tip. It extends south to about 200th Street and east to Payson Avenue. It was officially designated park ground beginning in 1926, though the City of New York purchased all of the land that now makes up Inwood Hill Park systematically between the years 1916 and 1940.

Inwood Hill Park is truly unique among Manhattan and other New York City parks because it is virtually devoid of manmade landscaping, rather representing the woods and marshland emblematic of Manhattan-before-the-Europeans. In addition, the park boasts three playgrounds, sports fields, nature paths, a bike trail, dog runs, and a barbeque area.

Though not nearly as popular as other Manhattan Parks such as Central Park and Battery Park, Inwood Hill Park has also been celebrated in popular culture. Most notably, the park is featured in S.S. Van Dine’s 1934 novel, The Dragon Murder Case and the 2001 film starring Samuel L. Jackson, The Caveman’s Valentine.

Main Attraction

Inwood Hill Park, like all New York City parks, is maintained by the New York City Parks and Recreation Commission. It is open 365 days a year from dawn until dusk. The Nature Center, which is popular among children from the surrounding area as well as among tourists, is open on weekends only during the tourist season (roughly March through November). The Nature Center can be found near the park’s main entrance on 218th Street and Indian Road.

There is plenty to do at Inwood Hill Park itself as well as in the surrounding area of uptown Manhattan and the Bronx. This includes a trip to Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo, and Fordham University, just to the east in the Bronx. The Manhattan attraction of Fort Tyron Park as well as the Cloisters Museum and Gardens is located just to the south.

Why It’s a Must-See

A visit to Inwood Hill Park is not like any other park visit in Manhattan and its outer boroughs. This is because the pristine, natural landscape of the park holds immense historical and sentimental value to New Yorkers and Americans alike. Though the value of Manhattan as a center of commerce, arts, entertainment, and culture is indisputable, being able to step back in time to see the island as Mother Nature intended is truly a special treat.