Frederick Law Olmsted and Robert Moses’s Priceless Riverside Park

Riverside Park is a one-of-a-kind piece of infrastructure, seamlessly bringing together park, highway, railway and river.

In 1914 Robert Moses, who would become the park- and highway-building czar of New York City, was taking a ferry across the Hudson River from Manhattan’s Upper West Side. As he looked back at the receding shore he could see Riverside Drive, a curving tree-lined boulevard that fronted a sinuous line of grand mansions and stolid apartment houses. Below lay the boulder-strewn slopes of Riverside Park.

It wasn’t much of a park in 1914, rudely gashed by a rail line that ran along the waterfront with clattering trains belching dense coal smoke and carrying reeking livestock to slaughter.

Less than 25 years later, Moses could cruise the Hudson River and see the fragments of Riverside Park knitted together in rounded slopes and swales of trees and lawns that descended in gentle terraces. Stone walls retained those terraces and buried the rail line, making room for an auto parkway lined with greenery along the water’s edge.

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By James S. Russell | July 31, 2015

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Central Park Conservancy plans $3M renewal of pathways, playground near north coast of Harlem Meer

Shoreline to be expanded and pathways rebuilt

The iconic Harlem Meer and the deteriorating playground on its shore are getting a major facelift that will improve the experience for visitors to the northern tip of Central Park.

The landscape of the Harlem Meer in Central Park is being refurbished thanks to a $3 million improvement project spearheaded by the Central Park Conservancy. In addition to re-grading the craggy perimeter pathway, a playground at Lenox Ave. and E. 110th St. will be brought up to date.

The landscape of the Harlem Meer in Central Park is being refurbished thanks to a $3 million improvement project spearheaded by the Central Park Conservancy. In addition to re-grading the craggy perimeter pathway, a playground at Lenox Ave. and E. 110th St. will be brought up to date.

Beginning in September, the north shoreline of the meandering, man-made lake will be expanded and its steeply sloping pathways rebuilt with new landscaping and a gentler grade to increase access for strollers and wheelchairs.

The old-fashioned, asphalt, Robert Moses-era playground just north of the Meer near 110th St. will be demolished and replaced with a greener, eco-friendly play space that’s integrated seamlessly into the park’s pastoral precincts.

It’s all part of the Central Park Conservancy’s sweeping $3 million reconstruction plan — expected to be completed by June, 2013 — to reinvent the northeast corner of the park, between Fifth and Lenox Aves.

And it’s 100% financed by private donors, not taxpayers.

The Conservancy, the nonprofit that manages the crown jewel and raises cash for its improvement on behalf of the city, says it wants to restore the Meer’s historic character, which was marred by “urbanizing” 20th century construction.

In laymen’s terms, that means more emerald, less concrete — and a playground that isn’t walled off from the forest of majestic oak, beech, gingko and bald cypress trees that surround it.

“This is a unique opportunity to create a playground that doesn’t have rigid, asphalt, schoolyard-like features,” said Chris Nolan, vice president of planning and design for the Conservancy.

“It will be a greener, earthen, more park-like environment that removes the barriers between playground and park.”

The 48-inch-high steel picket fence that now rings the play area will vanish, replaced by a more welcoming, 30-inch stone wall with inset benches and unobstructed views.

Meanwhile, the paths that drop abruptly to a concrete wall at the water’s edge will be realigned so they approach the Meer more gracefully, Nolan said.

Instead of a narrow, 14-foot cement shoreline, there will be a landscaped, 25-foot greenway with better access to the Meer, the Dutch word for “lake,” with its hypnotic views and thriving habitat for fish, turtles and waterfowl.

“At a time of exploding population growth on the north edge of the park, this helps address the needs of the community for additional access and better facilities,” said Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez (D-East Harlem).

dfeiden@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/central-park-conservancy-plans-3m-renewal-pathways-playground-north-coast-harlem-meer-article-1.1121983#ixzz21mV4FOAk

Bridging a Local Divide

For decades, the gulf between Randall’s Island and East Harlem seemed larger than just the East River.

The newly reopened 103rd Street Pedestrian Bridge has been embraced in East Harlem as a symbol of unity.

The newly reopened 103rd Street Pedestrian Bridge has been embraced in East Harlem as a symbol of unity.

An aging footbridge connecting them was dark, dank and closed part of the year, so the island was often reachable only by car. When the bridge was open, a police officer raised and lowered it every day at sunset. And while East Harlem children were starved for recreation space, new ball fields for private schools were built on Randall’s Island in 2010.

But on June 1, the 103rd Street Pedestrian Bridge opened after undergoing a two-year renovation, connecting the neighborhoods 24 hours a day for the first time in 30 years. And while the bridge isn’t as majestic as the George Washington Bridge or a tourist magnet like the Brooklyn Bridge, it has been embraced in East Harlem as a welcome symbol of unity.

“Sometimes I just come up on this bridge and stop and look around, right up here on the top,” said Katrina Maple, 64 years old. “It’s calming and relaxing. It feels like we finally got our backyard back.”

For longtime residents of East Harlem such as Ms. Maple, the 61-year-old pedestrian footbridge has had a dark past. In the early years when it was accessible at night, the 1,247-foot bridge was rundown and menacing, attracting homeless men pushing creaky carts, drug addicts looking for a fix and the occasional escapee from the island’s psychiatric hospital, neighborhood residents remember.

And there was high-profile crime. On Halloween in 1990, more than a dozen masked youths crossed the footbridge from East Harlem and attacked homeless people on the island with meat cleavers and bats.

By 1994, the city decided to close the bridge in mid-December as an experiment in crime prevention. Eventually, the bridge was closed entirely during the winter months.

East Harlem neighbors saw the closures as a clear sign that they were being shut out of the bucolic community of parks and open space and private bashes thrown by companies such as Bloomberg LP. “It was as if they didn’t want us there,” Ms. Maple said.

The footbridge connecting Randall's Island to East Harlem has reopened.

The footbridge connecting Randall’s Island to East Harlem has reopened.

And for some, isolating East Harlem from Randall’s Island gleaming new ball fields and hiking paths—even only part-time—seemed more sinister.

“A lot of people in the neighborhood have been concerned about them shutting it down. It seemed like the city didn’t want black folks in the park, you know?” said Saniqua Dimson, 17 years old, of East Harlem.

The private fields and parties—defended by park officials as necessary revenue-generators—still gall many in the neighborhood who see them as symbols of long-standing inequity. But unfettered access to the bridge has eased a bit of the tension.

On a recent evening, dusk surrounded the footbridge with an inviting, not a foreboding, silence. The Department of Transportation spent $16.8 million to restore the bridge with fresh coats of seafoam-green paint, a new electrical control system, and the installation of span-wide pedestrian fencing and handrails on both sides.

“It’s so calming to be here at night,” said 26-year-old Shaila Tompkins pushing a baby stroller. “I don’t feel scared to cross the bridge when its getting dark at all. It feels safe.”

That is by design. According to the city Parks Department, emergency call boxes and lighting have also been installed near the island.

More than 1,000 people crossed the bridge during its first fully open weekend, taking in a cool breeze from the river or breaking a sweat while jogging or cycling. It also attracts visitors from outside the neighborhood, such as schoolteacher Carolyn Turner, 31, of Morningside Heights, who carried two pink five-pound hand weights as she crossed the span.

“I crossed the bridge twice when I first got here because it’s like a low hill and the span is good for working out my legs,” said Ms. Turner, whose students in Harlem told her about the opening.

East Harlem residents describe the bridge and jaunts to Randall’s Island’s waterfront paths and gardens as a welcome time to stretch their legs and get fresh air.

“It’s been a long time coming for the bridge to be open, but I really like that I can come here by foot. We’re always stuck in subways, taxis, and cars,” said Jonqueil Stevens, 40, who has taken his son to Randall’s Island five times. “It feels good to be able to get to a natural space by walking. And it’s not like it’s a nasty dirty path, either. The bridge is so clean and just a straight shot.”

Marcus Garvey Park – Harlem Travel Guide – iPhone, iPad, and iPod

Host to “The Black Woodstock” in the summer of 1969

Marcus Garvey Park, one of the oldest parks in New York City, is located between 120th and 124th Streets between Fifth and Madison Avenues, and is approximately 20 acres in size. In approximately 1835, the park’s land was acquired and the park opened in 1840. Originally named Mount Morris Park (for which the surrounding neighborhood’s historic district is named), in 1973 the park was renamed in honor of Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), who was a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and crusader for Black Nationalism and who, in 1919, established the Universal Negro Improvement Association. The park is home to the only surviving fire watchtower, which was designed by Julius Kroehl and erected in 1855-1857. It was declared a landmark in 1967 because of its unique post-and-lintel cast-iron construction, which provided the prototype framing for the modern-day skyscraper, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Watchtower serves as an important community landmark. In an effort to contain fires in NYC an elaborate reservoir system was constructed which included the Watchtower and the Croton Aqueduct. The park is also home to the Pelham Fritz Recreation Center, which contains a state-of-the-art physical fitness center, a 1,700-seat amphitheater (which was a gift from Broadway musical giant Richard Rodgers, who grew up across from the park in the early 1900s), and the Harlem Little League, which won the Mid-Atlantic Championship in 2002. The Amphitheater is the site for two popular annual events—the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in late August and the two-day Dance Harlem Festival in September.

Facilities: Basketball courts, two dog runs, Olympic-size pool, playgrounds, recreation center that houses a fitness center containing cardiovascular equipment and a weight room, baseball field, barbecue area, African drumming circle, senior citizen program, computer resource center, and amphitheater where summer cultural events are staged.

Check out the unique brownstone at 4 West 123rd Street, which was “dressed up” by it owners in 1885 with an elaborate cast-iron fence and gate and a stamped, galvanized tin oriel window. Then stop by the Mount Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church and checkout one of the only three copper domes in New York.

Transportation: Bus—M1, M7, M60, M100, M101, M102, M104, BX15. Subway—A, B, C, D, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Metro North to 125th St.

Enjoy the show

Features

  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

What’s inside

  • Nightlife and entertainment from jazz, Latin salsa, opera to classical music;
  • Theatre, dance, spoken word and more;
  • Restaurants featuring soul food to French cuisine and everything in between;
  • Unique ethnic retail shops;
  • Museums that celebrate various cultures;
  • Fine art galleries;
  • Majestic churches and gospel music;
  • Amazing landmarks;
  • Parks and free recreational activities;
  • Guest accommodations;
  • Free internet access and Wi-fi locations;
  • Authentic tours of Harlem;
  • Annual events and festivals;
  • Sales & Deals

   Literally a guide in my pocket

Posted by Max on 13th Jan 2012

I can only subscribe to what other people already have told about the guide. It’s just great that I can read a place description, actually give a call its manager, find it on a map and even hook up on its Twitter channel to keep my eye on it. Very smart!

Harlem Travel Guide is available in App Store for $2.99!

Follow Welcome to Harlem on:

Website www.welcometoharlem.com  Yelphttp://www.yelp.com/biz/welcome-to-harlem-new-york Trip Advisorhttp://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1977036-Reviews-Welcome_to_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html

Central Park – Harlem Travel Guide – iPhone, iPad, and iPod

The most visited urban park in the U.S. 

Central Park, both a National Historic Landmark and the first New York City Scenic Landmark, is located between 59th and 110th Streets between Central Park West (Eighth Ave.) and Fifth Avenue, and is 843 acres in size. The northern area of the park is located in both East and Central Harlem. It is among the most famous parks in the world and was the first landscaped public park in the United States. The land for the park was purchased for $5 million in 1856 and consisted of swamps, bluffs, and rocky outcroppings. In 1857, the Central Park Commission held the country’s first landscape design contest and selected the Greensward Plan submitted by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, considered the founders of the landscape architecture profession in the United States. Entirely man-made, Central Park is one of the urban wonders of the world, a green oasis in the midst of the great concrete high-rise landscape of New York City. The building of the park was one of the nineteenth century’s most massive public projects, with some 200,000 workers used to pull off this great feat. The park first opened for public use in the winter of 1859.

The park contains eighteen different entrances, nearly fifty fountains and monuments, twenty-one playgrounds, fifty-one sculptures, and thirty-six bridges and arches. There are 58 miles of pedestrian paths, 4.5 miles of bridle paths, 6.5 miles of park drives and 7 miles of benches (nearly 9,000 benches in total). Today there are 26,000 trees, including 1,700 American elms. It is visited by over 25 million people each year. Some of the most popular places to visit in the park are the Great Lawn, where the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera hold two free concerts in the summer; the Delacorte Theatre, which is home to “Shakespeare in the Park”; Strawberry Fields, which is the garden of peace built in memory of Beatles member John Lennon; Summer-Stage at Rumsey Playfield, where music, spoken word, and dance performances are held during the summer; and Wollman Ice Skating Rink, to name a few. In the portion of the park located in Harlem, you will find the Conservatory Garden, which is the only formal garden in Central Park; the Harlem Meer, an 11-acre lake that makes it the second largest man-made body of water in the park; the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, which is the park’s only environmental educational center; the Blockhouse, a fort still standing from the War of 1812; Lasker Pool and Rink; and Duke Ellington Circle, featuring the first monument in New York City dedicated to an African American and the first memorial in the United States honoring jazz music giant Duke Ellington.

Facilities: Baseball fields, basketball courts, bicycling and greenways, dog runs, fishing, horseback riding trails, ice skating rinks, swimming pool, nature centers, paddle boat, rowboat, and canoe rentals, playgrounds, recreation centers, restaurants, soccer fields, tennis courts, volleyball courts, zoos, and aquariums.

There is absolutely no reason to leave the park until you want something to eat and there are two great places nearby – Ottomanelli Bros., for great burgers and steaks and a fabulous pre-fix brunch Saturday and Sunday for just $9.95; and Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread who serves up real soul food, at great prices.

Transportation: Bus—M1, M2, M3, M4, M10, M96, M106. Subway—B, C, 2, 3, 6 to 110th St.

Enjoy the show

Features

  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

What’s inside

  • Nightlife and entertainment from jazz, Latin salsa, opera to classical music;
  • Theatre, dance, spoken word and more;
  • Restaurants featuring soul food to French cuisine and everything in between;
  • Unique ethnic retail shops;
  • Museums that celebrate various cultures;
  • Fine art galleries;
  • Majestic churches and gospel music;
  • Amazing landmarks;
  • Parks and free recreational activities;
  • Guest accommodations;
  • Free internet access and Wi-fi locations;
  • Authentic tours of Harlem;
  • Annual events and festivals;
  • Sales & Deals

   Literally a guide in my pocket

Posted by Max on 13th Jan 2012

I can only subscribe to what other people already have told about the guide. It’s just great that I can read a place description, actually give a call its manager, find it on a map and even hook up on its Twitter channel to keep my eye on it. Very smart!

Download the free Sutro World @ www.sutromedia.com/world and purchase the Harlem Travel Guide today for $2.99!

Follow Welcome to Harlem on:

Website – www.welcometoharlem.com
Yelp – http://www.yelp.com/biz/welcome-to-harlem-new-york
Trip Advisor – http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1977036-Reviews-Welcome_to_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html