Riverside Park

Riverside Park: The Splendid Sliver

Edward Grimm
PHOTOGRAPHS BY E. Peter Schroeder
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 128
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  • Book Info
    Riverside Park
    Book Description:

    Riverside Park is an illustrated tribute to Frederick Law Olmsted's "other" New York City sanctuary. Since its conception in the 1870s, the park has undergone a number of transformations and suffered from periods of misuse and neglect, but in 1984, much-needed renovations turned this city oasis into what is today one of Manhattan's most beautiful attractions.

    "If the West Side does not stir you, you are a clod, past redemption."-Robert Moses

    Millions visit the Upper West Side landmark annually, and despite the heavy use, thousands of volunteers keep the grounds pristine. The park is now being extended southward as part of Manhattan's plan to reclaim the island's six hundred miles of waterfront, and Riverside Drive-Olmsted's curving thoroughfare flanking the park-has long been one of Manhattan's premier addresses.

    "I often feel drawn to the Hudson River.... I never get tired of looking at it; it hypnotizes me."-Joseph Mitchell, from The Rivermen

    From the time it was carved out of an unpromising landscape, Riverside Park has continued to reinvent itself. Using photographs (both contemporary and historical), illustrations, poems, and original and excerpted narrative, Edward Grimm and E. Peter Schroeder tell the intriguing story of a symbol of the modern revitalization of New York City.

    "Riverside Park will be a genuine riverside reservation, dedicated forever to the use of the people, beautiful in the highest sense."- The New York World, April 24, 1892

    *Includes the official Riverside Park Fund Map of 2007*

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51219-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Preface
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. IX-XII)

    In a city of nonstop and often feverish activity, Riverside Park’s diverse beauty provides abundant opportunities for relaxation and recreation. Its history is the stuff of drama, and its future is filled with promise.

    Most parks boast of trees, and many host playgrounds and sports facilities. Some embrace water. Riverside Park encompasses all these features and more. Its most defining aspect, however, may lie in another realm: a heart as big as all outdoors. The park inspires extraordinary devotion. Community commitment has propelled its renaissance. Neighborhood activities spark its liveliness. Citizen volunteers work to enhance its beauty. Families provide financial...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Park as It Was
    (pp. 1-16)

    IN 1789, when New York was the nation’s capital, President George Washington would seek relaxation by traveling by horse and carriage from Fraunces Tavern, north and west to the river, then along Bloomingdale Road (today’s Broadway). Along the way, he would pause for visits with friends whose houses and gardens overlooked the Hudson River.

    There was no denying the scenic beauty of either the river or the rugged and curving landscape that bordered it. One morning in the 1830s, author James Fenimore Cooper, standing on Claremont Hill, just north of the current site of Grant’s Tomb at 122nd Street, was...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Along the Way
    (pp. 17-38)

    IN 1980, both Riverside Park and Riverside Drive were designated scenic landmarks by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. It seemed only fitting since the history and fortune of the two had long been linked. Each is the site of monuments, both grand and simple, and each provides tranquil pleasures in a city that hums with almost nonstop activity. As Paul Goldberger of the New York Times observed in a 1980 article, the proximity of the Hudson River, “ever present, ever visible, brings a certain kind of reassurance that few other parts of the city can equal…. From any point...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Park as It Is Today
    (pp. 39-62)

    A VETERAN fisherman gazes contentedly down at the river and tells a passerby that “they’re biting.” He is hoping for striped bass, flounder, or fluke. “There should be a lot of big ones,” he says.

    A young mother remembers walking through the park down to her high school on West Sixty-first Street. She’s grateful for the rubber mats in the playground and the equipment that’s “safe because it’s not too high.”

    A preschooler doesn’t say anything at all. He just beams and spins around in wordless glee in the Dinosaur Playground.

    Clearly, Riverside Park is not only a park for...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Changing Park
    (pp. 63-78)

    WALT WHITMAN would be pleased. The great poet loved the waters surrounding the city and celebrated them in his work. “Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,” he wrote. Now, a thirty-two-mile route known as the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway represents a giant step in reclaiming public access to the city’s 578 miles of waterfront for pedestrians, cyclists, and other users of nonmotorized transportation.

    In November 2005, ground was broken for construction of the Harlem Piers between 125th Street and 135th Street, which will fill a gap between two esplanade sections of Riverside...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 79-80)
  10. Photo and Image Credits
    (pp. 81-90)