Often called “one of the greatest living works of art,” Wave Hill is a public garden and cultural center. A 28-acre site with thirteen gardens, woodlands and trails, it overlooks the majestic Hudson River and Palisades in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
Our gracious guide Paula, Manager of Group Tours, shared history as we oohed and ahhed our way around the gardens. This former country estate was built in 1843 by William Lewis Morris, a prominent New York lawyer. His wife chose the name because the rolling hills looked like waves. They built Wave Hill House on the estate and later it became home to a distinguished pedigree of residents: Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt and Arturo Toscanini.
By 1849, the railroad was completed between Manhattan and the Bronx, increasing the population of the Riverdale community. In 1900 people started buying large parcels of land and building magnificent homes. It was well on its way to becoming the bastion of wealth it is today.
Our first stop was the Glyndor House, built in 1895 by financier George Walbridge Perkins. The house, originally made of wood, was destroyed by lightning! Soon replaced by an elegant brick structure, the house today is an art gallery with two or three exhibits a year. Artists are invited to use Glyndor House as studio space.
And oh, the beauty and variety of the gardens we saw: a dry garden, with plants like aloe which thrive in arid climates; an aquatic garden, a serene pool with lilies, plants and fish; a wild garden much like an untamed landscape, just to name a few. Splashes of brilliant color were everywhere.
Wave Hill House, also a former private estate, was our final stop. It has 27 fireplaces, a high tea room, a hall for wedding receptions and a new Cafe. It offers concerts, weekend family art and workshops with gardeners and artists.
We left feeling Wave Hill had fulfilled its mission and then some: to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve magnificent views and to explore the human connection to the natural world.
If you’d like to visit, contact [email protected] or 718.549.3200 x238.