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Fort Tryon Park: exploring this charming park in New York City

After exploring the George Washington Bridge and Little Red Lighthouse – as I showed on this post here – a dear friend mentioned Fort Tryon Park to me, which is not far from the area. I looked at some pictures and was delighted with the place. It was decided: we had to separate one day at the weekend to visit the park. I checked the cool spots and there we went on a sunny, freezing Sunday, to explore another place of New York.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. began acquiring private parcels in 1917 as part of his vision of developing a beautiful park with majestic views of the Hudson River and Palisades for the public. He enlisted the Olmsted Brothers Firm, led by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of the architect of Central Park and his brother to develop a plan for the park in 1927. The Olmsted Brothers designed the park and oversaw its construction between 1931 and 1935. Rockefeller gifted the land to the City of New York in 1931, and construction began soon after, overseen by the Olmsted Brothers firm for Mr. Rockefeller. In 1935, Rockefeller and Robert Moses dedicated the park to the public for use. Here are some of the highlights:

Heather Garden – a very charming garden, with its 500 varieties of plants, trees, and shrubs. Throught the paths, you will see some places to seat. It is so calm – and I can’t wait to check out this place in the Spring.

Billings Lawn – lawn that sits on one of the park’s highest points – which automatically gives incredible views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.

Billings Mansion – down the Billings Lawn, you will find stone arches, which once served as an entrance way for the estate before it burned to the ground in 1925.The mansion was built by a wealthy horseman from Chicago named Cornelius K.G. Billings, who spent more than $2 million. The place was so impressive that it drew the attention of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who bought the mansion in 1917. Later, in 1925, a fire destroyed Billings Mansion and all that remains are the small frame and stucco gatehouse that we see today. It is so beautiful!

Linden Terrace – “terrace” with a privileged view of the Hudson River – is usually a place for weddings held in the park. It’s full of benches for people to sit and read a book, talk or just enjoy the scenery.

New Leaf – one of the great surprises I had when researching about Fort Tryon Park was discovering this restaurant. This fieldstone cottage was built by John D. Rockefeller in the 1930s as a public cafeteria and park administration building.  Designed by the famous Olmsted Brothers, the classic structure has a cobblestone exterior, granite archways and a slate roof, with massive oak trusses supporting the dining room’s 18-foot ceiling. Over the ensuing decades, the beautiful building fell into disrepair.  Bette Midler and her friends rediscovered it in 1995 in the midst of a massive cleanup of then-neglected Fort Tryon Park. Today the restaurant is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch, dinner, and brunch. We had a brunch there and enjoyed our experience. I ordered the Falafel burger (vegetarian, $14) and Thiago ordered the Croque Madame ($16). The food was great! I loved the idea of having lunch there and then enjoying the park. It is better to make a reservation, especially on weekends.

The Cloisters – Fort Tryon Park is also home to the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that houses nearly 5,000 medieval works in a building comprised of several structures from Europe. General admission tickets ($25) include exhibitions and are valid for three consecutive days at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters.

La Marina – leaving from Fort Tryon Park, you will find La Marina, a restaurant and Beach Lounge (yes, there is a beach!!!!). It opens from Wednesday to Sunday from 5 pm – and at 11 am on weekends for brunch. From the photos, you can see that it is sensational since it has an incredible view of the river and the bridge. La Marina only opens during the warm months and its reopening is scheduled for May. You can check more information on the website.

How to get there? Just use A subway line and get off at 190 Street Station, which is right at the entrance to the park.

Did you the post? I loved Fort Tryon Park and I can not wait to have the weather warm up to enjoy the place in another way. I am also looking forward to visiting La Marina!

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