Our Greeter and leader Mike Gera was quite clever in planning our visit. He had us meet at the 190th Street station on the A subway line. An elevator whisked us up to the Fort Washington Avenue entrance, one of the highest points in the park – so the rest of the walk was all downhill.
The park is located high above the Hudson River in the Manhattan neighborhoods of Hudson Heights and Inwood. It has commanding views of New Jersey, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.
We began walking through the Heather Garden with its grand old trees and colorful herbs and flowers. This garden is the largest in the city that is publicly accessible (free).
Mike engaged us with what he called fun facts. During the Revolutionary War battle of Fort Washington against the British in 1776, a woman named Margaret Corbin became an unlikely hero. When her American husband was killed, she “manned” his cannon, and was wounded so badly, she could no longer move her left arm. After the war, she became the first woman to be awarded a Congressional pension and she’s been honored with her own road: Margaret Corbin Drive.
In 1916, John D. Rockefeller Jr., bought the 67-acre Cornelius Billings estate which became Fort Tryon Park in 1935, when he donated it to the city. Today Fort Tryon Park includes The Cloisters which houses Rockefeller’s collection of medieval art.
The Cloisters is now a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with nearly 5000 medieval works of art in a reconstructed French monastery. While we were appreciating its entrance, groundhogs were enjoying its lawn.
Since Fort Tryon Park is one of the city’s most magnificent spaces, it is a U.S. Historic district, a New York City Landmark and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
As we left this cool, serene oasis, we were stunned by the absolute beauty of what we had just seen. This feast for the eyes soon turned into a rumbling of the stomachs. Some of us lunched at The Cloister Grill, a Dominican restaurant outside the park, where the food was beautiful too!