Fort Tryon Park is the only park in northern Manhattan designed by the Olmstead Brothers (Frederick Law Jr. and John Charles) firm. The 66.6-acre park rests on some of the highest public land in Manhattan.

Fort Tryon Park is rich in history and culture. The Wiechquaesgeck Indians, a tribal group of the Lenape (or Delaware) Indian Confederacy, had inhabited the park until the late Seventeenth Century when the Dutch colonists succeeded in removing them from the area. This group had last occupied the Fort Tryon Park area in 1669 but did not relinquish their claims to the land until 1715, when they were offered goods delivered in exchange for land by Colonel Stephen Van Cortlandt.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Army lost Fort Tryon to the Royalist Forces on November 16, 1776. Fort Tryon was a northern defense for Fort Washington located on 183rd Street and Fort Washington Avenue. During the battle, this outpost held its position by Colonial forces for 4 hours against the Hessians.

Margaret Corbin Drive and Circle are named for the heroine of the battle and wife of John Corbin, who was an artilleryman in the First Pennsylvania Militia. Corbin was killed by a musketball while he was loading a cannon. Margaret stepped into his place and continued to load and fire the cannon. At the end of the fighting, Margaret was wounded by grapeshot and was found unconscious next to her husband. She was cared for by the British and was part of a prisoner exchange.

A plaque at Margaret Corbin Circle pays homage to this first woman patriot and soldier from Pennsylvania who fought for freedom in Washington Heights. During the British occupation of the area, the fort in the park was named for the last British Governor of the Province of New York, Major General Sir William Tryon.

During the Nineteenth Century, the land in Fort Tryon Park passed through various ownerships. Such owners were Augustus C. Richards, William Marcy Tweed, William Libbey, and C.K.G.Billings. The Richards mansion was known as Woodcliff Manor and the Billings home was Tryon Hall.

Billings overlook and drivewayThe Billings mansion was located at the terraces on the north end of the heather garden. Billings purchased 25 acres of land between 1901 and 1905 to build his home and spent $2 million for construction. Remnants of the estate can still be seen in the park today. These are the scenic overlook and the driveway that connected with the Henry Hudson Parkway. Tryon Hall burned down in 1925.

Another estate in Fort Tryon Park was the home of William Henry Hayes. In 1850 Hayes purchased a small plot of land and erected a home and stable. In time the property was sold and it became the Abbey Inn. The stable became an auto garage. The Inn was located approximately 800 feet north of the Billings mansion. At the entrance of the Inn were bombs from the Mexican War purportedly donated by James Gordon Bennett Jr., publisher of the New York Herald.

In 1917 John D. Rockefeller purchased the land for an ungodly sum of $35,000 per acre. After landscaping the property at a cost of $3,600,000, Rockefeller donated the land to New York City for use as a public park. The Olmstead Brothers designed the original plans for the park. There had been a rumor circulating that the elder Olmstead brother was the better architect and the younger got a better commission for his work. Fort Tryon Park was designated parkland in 1931 and was opened in October 1935.

The CloistersIn May 1938, the Cloisters opened with the help of funds from Rockefeller and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a collection of parts of medieval cloisters and the collection of George Grey Barnard. The Barnard collection had been in its own building on Fort Washington Avenue and 190th Street from 1914 to 1937.

The park’s Heather Garden with panoramic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades has, for years, interested and inspired many visitors who have come to see its scenic beauty. Many of the park’s overlooks are connected with five miles of pedestrian pathways. In 1983 the park was given landmark status.

The New Leaf Cafe operated by the New York Restoration Project has been a haven to visitors in the park. Area residents and frequent visitors remember the cafe by its previous names: Tryon’s, Fort Tryon Park Cafe, the Unicorn, and the Maple Leaf. The building was erected in the 1930s on the site of the Billings auto garage.

The Medieval Festival has become a part of the annual events in Fort Tryon Park. The Festival started in the 1970s under the auspices of the Cloisters. Eventually the Medieval Festival guild and then the Washington Heights-Inwood Development Corporation have coordinated in running the annual event.

The Festival draws visitors from the greater metropolitan area, and it depicts life in a village dating from the 11th to the 13th centuries. Puppetry, medieval art, pageantry, jousting, storytelling, falconry and medieval food are enjoyed by all who attend. Many of the participants dress in period outfits that embellish the flavor of the day.

At the northeast corner of the park is the Anne Loftus Playground. This playground was named in honor of Ms. Loftus, who was District Manager of Community Board 12 from October 1980 to September 1989, after a resolution was unanimously passed on June 21, 1990. In 1995 the playground underwent reconstruction with monies funded by City Council member Stanley E. Michels. It is the only playground that was originally designed by the Olmstead Brothers, and the reconstruction evokes the original plan.

For almost two decades, a local organization called Friends of Fort Tryon Park has helped to maintain the park. In October 1985 the group was instrumental in organizing a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the park’s opening to the citizens of New York. City officials and local residents were on hand for the event. Among the invited guests were descendants of British Governor William Tryon and a resident who was a child when she attended the opening ceremony in 1935. Friends of Fort Tryon Park is involved with clean-ups, gardening and other events in the park. The group is also involved with publishing a quarterly calendar of events at the Cloisters.


I was born in Washington Heights in 1950, at a time when the neighborhood was a haven for German Jews, like my parents, who had escaped the Holocaust. As a small boy living in this twilight of Old World and New, Europe and America, German and English, Fort Tryon Park played a special role. My paternal grandmother lived with us on 183rd Street, just down the block from Fort Washington Avenue, and took care of me while both of my parents were at work. She was frequently visited by her friends, Gustav and Minnie Plaut, who lived on 172nd Street, in the apartment building where I had spent the first six months of my life. Onkel Gustav and Tante Minnie would walk the half mile to our house, then trek up five flights of stairs to my grandmother and me. Then the four of us would take a walk up Fort Washington Avenue (past P.S. 187, the elementary school I would attend when I was older) to Fort Tryon Park. As a little boy, I would sometimes be tired and cranky by the time we arrived so we would rest at one of the recessed benches that had been carved into the rock overlooking the beautiful flower garden. When we were ready, we would stroll through the garden which was, for me, one of the most beautiful places in New York City. The treat for me would then be a visit to the cafeteria in the park. We would have tea and eat Drake’s pound cake as my grandmother and her friends continued to talk. In the winter, on the weekends, when my father was home, Fort Tryon Park took on a different character. We would take my American Flyer to “suicide hill,” so named because a boy had purportedly sledded down it, through the park exit and on to the street where he was killed by a motorist. My childhood recollection is of a hill that was steep and very lomg. The sled ride down it was fast and scary; it took quite a while for my father to convince me to attempt a “solo” and I suspect he was disappointed when I finally did because it meant from then on that he would not enjoy the pleasure of sledding himself. As a child, the Cloisters were a place of mystery to me. Walking up the ramp from the roadway to its entrance made me feel as if I were entering a world of the past. And, even as a young adult, I would return to the museum there and continue to be fascinated by its remarkable collection of medieval art. The walk home from Fort Tryon Park was always a melancholy one for me. I was leaving a place of beauty and respite to re-enter the world of the mundane. To me, it symbolizes in many ways the European nature of the Washington Heights neighborhood in which I grew up. It was a gathering place (as was the much smaller Bennett Park, on 183rd to 184th Street between Fort Washington and Pinehurst Avenues) for people who had shared a common terror and who had lost so much but found a new home and new hope in America. Never a day passed on our trips to Fort Tryon without meeting old friends, stopping for a chat in German and rejoicing in the new life they had found in this “Frankfurt on the Hudson.”

Peter, You had mentioned the term Frankfort on the Hudson.” Did you know that there is a book by that same name by Steven M. Lowenstein. I own a copy and found it interesting reading as well a s an excellent reference whenever I have to give a talk on the subject. James Renner Community District 12 Historian

i too have read that book [“frankfurt on the hudson”, and want to add to your comments, james, that although it is written by a professional – i believe loewenstein is a professor of history – and has all the high-fallutin’ verbiage of a professional text, it is also eminently readable and filled with personal anecdotes and the names of people and institutions in the “yekke” community of washington heights. i just wish someone had written a similar book on the german-jewish refugee community of the bronx, of which i was a part. apparently the bronx does not inspire the kind of interest [other than negative interest] that manhattan inspires 🙂

Peter…I have similar memories of life in Washington Heights and times in Fort Tryon Park, the Cloisters, and sledding down Suicide Hill (I never knew the story behind it…thanks for the info!) I , too, was born in 1950 and went to PS 187. Were you in the “graduating class” of 1962 as I was? Did we have any of the same teachers…Mrs. Taylor (I hae her for 1st and 2nd grade), Mrs. Karetsky, Mrs. Green, Mrs. Stand or Mrs. Buono? Peggy Nast Hayes

I’m very interested…where is Suicide Hill? My daughter loves sledding in the park, and would like it even more if she could tell her friends she went down Suicide Hill.

I too remember Mrs. Buono as a teacher in 1959 or 1960. I was one of those students–probably as a result of the exploding baby boom population–who got transferred to PS 187 after attending PS 173 and then after 6th grade being shunted off to JHS 52. I also remember wasting lots of time at a pizza parlor around the corner from the school.

I lived on Dongan Place and went to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and have nothing but great, fond memories of Fort Tryon Park. I, too, used to sled down suicide hill and find old indian arrowheads near the cave in the park. I left Manhattan when I was 11 in 1988. I still miss the summer air and the bellydancers in the park.

Peter, it was a trip back to the past for me as I read your story about Ft. Tryon Park. I was born in the Bronx, but my parents moved to Washington Heights in 1940, when I was one year old. (185th Street & St. Nicholas Ave.) In my pre-teens and teens, I had probably spent hundreds of hours walking through the park, and roaming through the cloisters. Do you remember the fruit (lemons & limes) that used to grow in the pots inside the atriums? I have also spent many hours sleighing down ‘suicide hill’, although I never knew it was called that. Perhaps it was named that later on. If there was a good covering of snow, we used to walk up Ft. Washington Ave., and start at the garden by the main entrance. There was a path on the far right side that you could sleigh down which went down another hill on the right side of a gazebo. At one point, the pathway went under a tunnel, and we had to stop and drag the sled to the other side. The final part of the ride was the hill that you mentioned. By the way, I went to P.S. 189 on Amsterdam Ave. I have a novel being published in the near future that, although fiction, describes much of the old neighborhood. One scene actually takes place in Ft. Tryon Park.

I grew up on Broadway Terrace. Fort Tryon was my back yard. There is a cave in the park called Splitrock Cave. Down on the Bennett Park entrance, we as kids could barely fit in the entrance. There are also stairs all over the park called Indian Stairs. On one hillside there is Indian clay, what I would imagine the indians used at one time. We had a rope swing in the park. One day while swinging on a rope, my friend found a cannon ball from the Revolutionary War. Suicide Hill was always fun, but the long walk home was always tough.

I remember discovering that cave in Fort Tryon Park (didn’t know it was called Splitrock) with my brother and pal Victor around 1962, when I was 11 or 12. I recall the narrow entrance, and how the interior of the cave sloped UPHILL for about forty feet, before it tapered and ended. We would bring candles and flashlights into it, and imagine ourselves in a Jules Verne adventure. It was just a huge glacial rock that had never quite settled, thus the cave. It’s even bigger than the Indian caves in Inwood Hill Park, near which in 1963 I found two Revolutionary War musket balls. It’s great hearing that others have also found relics from the war in the neighborhood, and that the old archeologists didn’t find all of them!

OMG this is so wonderful. I was born and raised in Washington Heights and never knew such history of my neighborhood. I was born in 1979 and remember in my early childhood all the times i would play around the cafe never knowing its history behind it. Now am so eigher for summer to come so i can go and admire all its beauty and history. About that cave i wonder if its still there and if i would be able to find any Indian artifacts. Thank you so much for all your loving memories about Cabrini Park. Now its an honor for me to have been born in Washington Heights.

Interesting article on our old neightborhood

My grandparents lived in washinton heights, and this book brings back many fond memories of our vistis with them. There was a very strong sense of community that is a rare comodity today. Perhaps it has something to do with being born in the US, and being a generation removed from the immigrant experience. Anyway, reading the book “frankfurt on the Hudson” and visiting this great web site is a wonderful journey to a simpler time.

I was born in 1951 in Sayreville, NJ. As I was growing up, my mother would tell me about our family and how we had an ancestor by the name of Tryon and how that part of the family was from England. She told me there was a park in NYC named after our family. I recently started to investigate and found Tryon Park in NYC on-line which led to much information about my ancestor, Gen. William Tryon. My great grandmother’s last name was Tryon, I had a trunk that a family member used when moving from England, I heard numerous stories about the family in England being extremely wealthy, etc. I am now enjoying studying all about my ancestor, Gen. Tryon. Reading the comments about the park is intriguing and I only wish I had visited it while growing up near by. I no longer live close to the park, in NJ, but live in Atlanta. I do hope to visit the park soon, though. If anyone has any resources that would help me learn more, please let me know.

I lived on Dongan Place during the late 1950s through the early 10970s, which was very accessible to the “suicide hill” portion of the park. I remember when they planted some trees at the top of the hill, presumably to thwart sledders because of the legendary accident on the hill. We still found paths through and around the trees. We would play football in the summer on the hill too. When we realized this area was too hilly for football, we would hike up near the gardens for a flatter game. What a wonderful oasis the park is in an urban mecca.

I’m looking for the german deli. my parents used to take me to. Possibly called Bloch & Faulk, or that was the name of the meat sold. Is it still in Washington Heights? Thanks, Shirley

to shirley, the deli that you remember is bolch and faulk. It was on Broadway I think at around 172nd st. I do not believe that it still exists, which is a shame. They had the best german cold cuts and hot dogs around.

Hi, i have read all the stories and became much more fond of washington heights. Im sorry to say that before i knew the history i disliked washington heights greatly. i was born in the bronx and my grandparents have lived in washington heights since the 70’s. i visit them not too often because of how ugly the area is, (my apologies). they live on 191st in audobon. The area is very ugly, noisy and disturbing. when i stay the night, none of us can hardly sleep because of the roudy people outside. no one has any respect anymore over there. i am doing a project on washington heights and i am very greatful for this websight. i now know the history and would care for more information if james renner has anymore. thank you very much. Anne

Hi all, I am actually part of the newer generation who has discovered Washington Heights…and can relate to the memories depicted on this site only that they were of the 1990’s and not the 50’s…amazing how we all have the same recolections across the generations about this one place. I am Dominican of Jewish descent…My grandparents escaped the war and fled to the Dominican Republic (where I was born and spent most of my childhood). My imediate family migrated to the US in the late 80’s and landed on 183rd St. I now reside in California, however have been taken to a journey back in time to my pre-teens and teens as I too strolled down Fort Tryon Park and sled down suicide hill…I also remember how the Cloisters was the most magical place I had ever seen because it brought fairy tales to life. Thank you! Ruth

Hello, this brought back lots of memories, I would go to St. Elizabeths church and school the in 1977 graduated to Mother Cabrini High school. I remember play in street with the water sprinklers going. Going to the RKO Movies on Broadway, I lived between St. Nicholas and Wadsworth ave 185 Street. This area was mixed I had all kinds of friends. This was a big flash back what a great memory.

I am really young, so unfortunately I can not relate to the experince of all of you. However, I have lived in washington heights and played in Fort tryon park since I moved to 186 street in between saint nicholas and wadsworth. I would love to share this amazing history with you all. So if you can be kind enough and guide through the doors of your historical places and tell me more about where i have lived since I was 5, born in 1988.

I too used to live on Dongan Place and went to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. I remember suicide hill very well. What great memories! Especially popping open the fire hydrants on hot summer days. Maybe one day I’ll move back!

I was born in 1945 and grew up on Fairview Ave and Broadway terrace. Went to PS 152 and JHS 52 and then Stuyvesant HS.

i lived in washington heights for a while. perhaps someone could tell me where these caves in Ft. Tryon Park and Inwood are or used to be.

Peter Freitag, Did you attend the YM YWHA on Nagle Ave for summer camp during the mid 1960s?

Greetings, and thanks everyone for the great anecdotes. I recently moved to “Hudson Heights” (real estate marketing term for Washington Heights near Ft. Tryon Park). I used to visit the Park and the Cloisters with my mom back in the 1950s and 60s when I was a youngster, and always said that when I grew up I wanted to live nearby in this neighborhood. 40 some years later, I finally made it! I have a question, though, if anyone knows the answer to this: I came across an old photo (1912) captioned “Fort Washington Lake.” Was there ever a lake in Fort Washington Park or anywheres around here? The URL for the old photo is;=020063r.jpg If anyone has any info, I’d appreciate you letting me know. Thanks. Juliana

I Remember ther being two suicide hills one being the hill down from broadway to inwood ave. it was hard to stop while speeding down it on a bike.he other Hill wa down the side of the hill by the cloisters at the gazebo .It Ruled!Im from 177st between audubon and amsterdam.there was a park across the st.but didnt have a steep long incline like suicide hill. i was called RayRay 1955-1965

I lived on hillside ave in the 60’s and 70’s and went to PS 152,JHS 52,and GWHS, I went back to visit in 2003 and was saddened at all the changes.

I was born and raised in Washington Heights. I was born in Columbia Presbyterian’s Sloan Hospital in 1971 and was raised on 171st between Broadway and Fort Washington. I left the “Heights” in 1993 when I got married but my parents still live in the same building so I go back to the neighborhood all the time. I remember my mom taking my sister, brother and I to Fort Tryon Park every Sunday in the summer, fall and spring after we attended Sunday Mass at Incarnation Church on 175th and St.Nicholas Avenue. It was a loong walk but well worth it and I loved it!! The entrance of the park was so beautiful and the Cloisters was such an amazing place, wonderful place. I truly loved it. Afterwards we would cap off our visit by stopping by Cabrini’s school Chapel. I recently visited the Cloisters with my husband and marveled at it’s beauty all over again. Washington Heights has so many beautiful memories for me and I am proud to say that I was born and raised there.

Okay, I am totally new to the area and have never been to The Cloisters. I am planning to spend a day there on 11/08. Any restaurants in the area that you would recomend? It’s a friend’s birthday so I am looking for something nice.

I spent the first 27 years of my life growing up in 25 Dongan Place. I moved with my family in 1988, because English became the second language in the neighborhood, and the ever increasing crime rate. But the memories I have of PS 152, stick ball playing, and infinite childhood memories will stay with me until the day I die.

My family moved to 501 W. 187th Street in 1939, when I was four years old. The house faced YU, and housed a marvelously diverse group of people. I attended PS 189 from 1940 and graduated 8th grade in 1948. Then it was on to GWHS and CCNY…as was the route of so many of my friends and classmates. I’d love to hear from anyone who attended these schools. I was in the GW class of 1952 and the CCNY class of 1955. I’m in Brooklyn, now… sigh.

Hey Juliana, I came across the picture you posted on the Washington Hts board. That picture is a treasure. It is not a lake any longer. Shortly after the time that photo was taken, they built the Henry Hudson Bridge. And years before the bridge was built there was a lake ‘of sorts’ there. Eventually, they cut through from the Hudson River to the Harlem River. You can easily see part of that ‘cut” with the big blue C painted on it. Where the man is fishing, the south side of the bridge would be to his right. The rock he is standing on has name. All of us kids used to swim there..and that was called ‘Slant Rock’. Just to the fisherman’s left, there is a sandy area, like a small beach. It was named…excuse me.”Bare Ass Beach”….because that’s the way we swam.

I was born & lived in Park Terrace East, Washington Heights 1950 – 1957, this site has brought back so many memories, but the one that sticks in my mind is the cave. When I was 5 years old my older brother took me into the cave & told me that the large long rock inside was an aligator and that if I moved it would eat me, also there was a small rock on top of a large rock that he said was a button and if I touched it I would wind up halfway around the world & never see my family again. He then left me there, it felt like hours until my father came and showed me that my brother was just teasing me. Needless to say I have been trying to get even with him for the last 50 years. I loved Washington Heights and was sadden at my last trip back seeing how bad the old neighborhood got. A note to our city leaders; if it was great once, it can be great again, get to work.

I lived on Hillside ave in the 50’s and 60’s. I remember the dangerous hill in Ft Tryon being called “Devil’s Hill” and I had an accident the first time I sledded down–I undercut a large man who fell on me, requiring x rays at Jewish Memorial.

ive pretty much lived in this area all my life. reading all these messages about the neighborhood was really nice. i am part of the younger generation, i was born in 1986 and lived on 207 and isham. i recently moved to broadway terrace. thanks to everyone who shared a memory.

Very interesting stuff. I currently live on Arden. Can anyone tell me where, exactly, this cave in Fort Tryon is? Thanks.

Hi, I just came across this site, I moved here in Dec 05, and I don’t want to inflame anything on this site, but I’ve noticed that in the 50s, there were a lot of German Jewish people. Then I guess those that posted moved away when it became more Dominican. My questions are, what do you mean by how this neighborhood got bad? I mean it was a place for German jews escaping the war, and a lot of Dominicans live here because they want to build a better life in America (not in DR). I don’t know why the neighborhood is considered ‘bad’ because it’s hosting another immigrant population.

HI everyone, I just found this site too. I was born in Washington Heights in 1956 and lived at 590 Fort Washington Ave. I attended ps 187 which I hated. I hated every minute of school there. I found it so rigid, boring, often cruel. Did anyone have the teacher Mrs. Schann? But I loved the world of the streets and the parks and the kiosk on the corner of 185th or so –across from Bennett park. Does anyone remember that place? An old Jew selling Hebrew newspapers by the subway? And what about the candy store –steins? It was very beautiful to live there, and to be a kid roaming around..

wutz up??? 16 yearz old i lived my whole life in da heightz…and i love it over here…i love fort tryon park 4 da fact of all da traill and trees…me and my freind all go over dere to ride bike tru da trail and see ppl enjoin da park ..i love it even thogh i live all da way in 175th street…i enjoy da park every day

I was born in Washington Heights in 1964. I lived on Wadsworth Avenue at 190th St. My grandparents lived right on Ft. Washington Avenue at 590 Ft. Washington Avenue. I used to call The Cloisters “Daphne’s Castle” after a public acess show. On Sundays, in the late 60’s and into the 70’s, many religous groups would gather and turned the main lawns into a colorful and interesting experience. I live now 33 miles of Washington Heights, but I’m always going to consider that home. From going to Kindergarten at PS 189 to St. Elizabeth’s School….I’m a “Heightser” at heart.

Hello! After 43 years, I returned to see my old Washington Heights neighborhood last week. I lived at 165 Audubon Avenue. I attended Incarnation Elementary School and graduated in June, 1964 from 8th grade! Teresa

I grow up at 4672 Broadway… but my building entrance face Dongan PL. I was born in 1970 and went to school at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs… I remember I had Mrs. Tascano 3 times at that school.. I hope I spell her name right… I live out North Jersey now. I do agree the neighborhood went a little down in the late 80s and 90s. Since I have family there I still visit and notice that the area by 200 Dyckman St. is coming back. I have even to the restaurant going to the river park. I also ridded down suicide hill and come out to the opening on Broadway and Dongan Pl. Did anyone go the Queen Martyrs Alumni night in Sept. of 2007…. For me I remember a lot of Irish and some Jewish people and Puerto Ricans in the 70s I was even an Altar Boy at the church in the late 70s I still call it home..

I was born and raised at 25 Dongan Place. I dont remember the hill being called “suicide Hill” it was called “DEVILS HILL” in my time.I remember playing all kinds of games there. On Dongan we played stickball,skullsies,manhunt, sting, etc. Those are the best memories of my childhood. I will always love the HEIGHTS!!!!!!

I lived at one Bogardus place, my father was an intern at Jewish Memorial Hospital.The year was 1961 and we were new immegrants from Israel. The Park was an amazing place. We pretended that we lived in the Cloisters and that the park was our garden. We played ping pong on those stone tables just out side the elevator which went down to the A train and tunnel. I loved that park!

I lived at 730 Ft.Washington Ave. from 2001 to 2003. I now reside in Tampa Fl. I dearly miss it – such a special place full of special people. I was truly blessed to have had the experience of living there if only for a short time. The park is magnificent any time of year. I’ve spent many an hour sitting on a bench overlooking the Hudson – meditating, dreaming. I still maintain contact with Mike & Melanie Klein and the wonderful Rosa Naparstek (Angels). The sense of community in this neighborhood is priceless. If I close my eyes and listen I can still hear the band practicing at Mother Cabrini’s on Saturday mornings.

I lived at 900 W. 190th St. (Cabrini Terrace…I think it was called)from 1954 to 1959 and went to PS 187 for those years, “graduating” from Mrs. Shapiro’s 6th grade in ’59. I have great memories of the neighborhood including sledding down some wicked hills in Ft Tryon Park with my friends. The Cloisters, stick ball, roller skating and general mischief! I have re-visted the area several times in the last 10 years as my son went to school and lived (including a time up in Inwood)in Manhattan for 7 years. Anyone out there live here during those years?

I lived at 50 Dongan Place from 1957 to 1962, lots of good childhood memories from that time and neighborhood. Sled riding on Devil’s Hill, playing knock hocky at the park, flipping baseball cards and spinning tops in the schoolyard at PS 52. the Dykman Theatre, the man with his cart and horse that came around to sharpen knives and fix umbrellas… good memories.

My parents owned a liquor store on the hill on 181st by Carbini. There are few neighborhoods that can compete with the breathtaking views of the Majestic Hudson River or the estate like feel of Fort Tryon Park. We moved to Riverdale but had to go in with Mom or Dad and help out around the store. Somtimes I would hand deliver orders to residents in Castle Village which are now selling in the $1M dollar range. We could have gotten a three room apartment overlooking the Hudson for $75K at the time. Walking north to Inwood Hill Park which was and is still more rural than Fort Tryon with many variety of great old trees and forest. The shopping on 181st and Broadway was wonderful exhibiting the hustle and goings of all types of diversity of people. I knew some of the older Irish, Cubans, Jews of course and many other wonderful cultures. Washington Heights has a warm spot in my heart and still spend at least one day a week at the overlook below the gardens enjoying the peace and tranquility. laslty, just read in NY Post this past summer, that Fort Tryon is the safest park in NYC. Thanks for all your sharing!

Hello people! I’m a college student doing research on the park. I was wondering if anybody knew where I can find information on the park. I’m basing my research on the transformation of the fort to a park. Thanks!

Try the Park Historian, James Renner. Click on the History link at the top of this page.

I grew up in WH in the 50’s and early 60’s. PS 187 and JH 52 then off to Brooklyn Tech. I remember four of us, Michael, Micky, Kenny and me, all between 6’2″ and 6’8″ walking down the street. Shopping at Gideons for the best pastries, buy the Sunday NY Times at the newsstand at the subway entrance at 184th Street, english muffins after the boy scouts meeting at the counter at the corner drug store, the deli and pizza place (15 cents a slice). Watching “Billy Bebop” waking down Cabrini Blvd with a transistor radio to his ear, later know as Tiny Tim. Dr. Ruth at 900 Cabrini, Bobby Columbi playing drums in grad school in the basement of 720, to become the lead drummer of the Blood Sweat and Tears, Don Kurshner, Henry Kissinger’s Parents, and so many More interesting people.

I lived at 181st Street and Cabrini from 1965 till we left in 1973. Went to PS 187 Mrs. Mandell was the principal, had Mrs. Buono, Mrs. Shapiro as teachers. Remember Mrs Hyman and loud Mrs. Bergman and her son Joel Bergman. (wonder how he turned out?) After school, I worked at a grocery store on 181st and Cabrini. Made many deliveries to Castle Village and down to Riverside Drive. It was mostly a Jewish neighborhood back then with some Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans starting to move in. I went to JHS 52, remember Mr. Fisher our opinionated Social Studies Teacher and tough Mr. Randina our gym teacher. Went to GW High YES I was there when they had to bring in the National Guard. I remember Mrs. Cacione and my Spanish teacher Mrs. Kelly. GW High had an entrance from the back, it was never used and kids used to go there to make out and smoke. I remember the caves under Castle Village, they recently had a wall collapse and a huge landslide that temporarily blocked the Northbound West Side Highway. I have many fond memories from those days, I have been back there a few times. (I now live over 1,000 miles away) No, its not the same, it was quieter and much cleaner then and all new faces now. But it is still the old hood!

Jay said he lived on Hillside Avenue. I lived at 11 Hillside Avenue in the 50’s and 60’s and we had a family named Cherney in our building. Do you have two sisters? And, yes, we called the hill “Devil’s Hill” also.

Hi, I went to JHS143 and the GW High… I was one of the people that hung-out at Fort Tryon Park during the Hippy Era 1968 to 1971… I had a huge Jew-Fro and my name is Zach. I had tons of friends at the park I haven’t seen in years. We all hung out on the WALL at the 1st Lawn. Mike Reynolds was a good friend of mine. Karen Levine and I use to make out.;-) If anyone remembers me, drop me an email. I would love to see some of my old long lost friends..

My recollection of the sledding hills at Ft.Tryon was that the upper hill(above the stone gazebo)was called Devil’s Hill, the lower section, which ended near Broadway, we called Suicide Hill. On my last visit, several years ago, the upper section had been fenced in for a pet excercise area. I also remember the “caves” that were in the retaining wall for Castle Village. You could access them by scrambling up the rocks at the end of the wall, then inching your way along the ledge that was probably 40-50 feet above the on-ramp to the Henry Hudson Parkway. I have not seen the rebuilt wall.

Born in 1945 I moved to 3784 tenth ave.(dyckman housing projects)about 1952 when they were new.I lived on the 14th fl.which was the top floor.I first attended ps 52 when it was an elementary school.When it became a jhs I changed schools to ps 98.In about the 4th grade I had to change schools again to ps 152 in Inwood because I had to go to the Hebrew school which was across the street.Does anyone recall the following names of friends & fellow students from ps 152?–Peter Brooks,Fred Rosen,Charles Sullivan(?)Also,girls:Diane Mendelson,Georgette Kean,Elaine Stern?How about Bruce Drucker??? I used to race him to see who was the fastest kid in the school.Anybody help me with this? We used to play punch ball alot and I loved it.we also flipped cards alot which was a lot of fun.Oh how I could relive those wonderful memories.A teacher I had at ps 152 was Mr. Silver.My world in Inwood ended in the spring of 1957 when my parents moved to New Rochelle, NY.I was in the middle of 6th grade & it was very devasting to me to have to go.Please,if you remember any of the above.please email me.Thanks and Happy Memories!!Two other names I recall fondly are:Peter Rhoden and Bobby Novack.

Hello Peter Freitag. This is the miracle of the internet. I was searching for something to do with WH, the old neighborhood, where I grew up (St Nick and 186th) and came upon your fond memories of Fort Tryon Park. I remember your parents as well as your paternal grandmother. Your Mom was lovely and a great assistant to Dr. Heilbronn, the dentist. I remember her best though as the person who was at my side when my father suddenly passed away of a heart attack in 1964. I’m 4 years your elder, went to PS 189, JHS 52, GWHS, and have been living in Paris for the last 30 years. But I guess that Washington Heights remains in one’s blood. If Kahn rings a bell, let me know.
Fort Tryon Park

2 thoughts on “Fort Tryon Park

  • December 19, 2020 at 2:28 am

    I was born in1942 and lived in 720 Ft Washington Ave from then to 1961 when I got married . My parents lived there until they passed 27 ago. The apartments were huge with step down living rooms . I went to PS 187 and had great teachers. The Devanny sisters, Mrs Strand, Mrs Costello, etc Loved going to Kurtzmans Candy Store, the kosher deli, Gideon’s bakery, Dottie’s beauty parlor, etc on 187 th st. . I shopped for gifts on 181 st at a Dept store. It was a great place in which to grow up .

  • January 19, 2021 at 6:50 am

    Went P.S. 187 from 61 to 67 and after reading all of the above mention teachers I recognized some names such as Mrs Schann my 6th grade teacher who was never as strict as my 5th grade teacher Mrs Goldschein. It was a school where I got to learn how to read and write within an quiet atmosphere I would come to savor after having attended schools JHS 52 and GWHS which ruined my academic grades due to the constant riots, fires and school closinging in the late 60s into the 70s.. I remember so many of the stores that are now gone. I never could figure out where the “suicide hill” was located. People moved out during the mid 1960’s and by the time the 70’s were done I saw less and less recognizable faces.

    I love the history of Washington Hts and its landmarks. I just up there last Dec 2020 during the pandemic where I saw a restaurant on 187th street that replaced a pet hospital and was previously way back in the early 60’s an all in one soda fountain and drug store.

    I lived at 360 cabrini long after my parents passed away and the rents were raised with a co-op converted buiing and I checked my self into a homeless shelter in 2012 but now I live in staten island in a rooming house. i remembers steins the candy store owner and so much more.

    It was a fun place to live and the ps 187 schoolyard was a great place to play football with the guys.


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