Situated in central Inwood on the northern tip of Manhattan, this 20-acre neighborhood park was once part of the William Bradley Isham estate. Built in the mid-19th century upon a prominence, Isham’s manor house commanded panoramic views of the Hudson and Harlem rivers and Spuyten Duyvil Creek. The irregular rectilinear parcel encompassed outbuildings as well as copses, brooks, and a rocky outcropping of Inwood marble. In 1912, as Inwood began to develop more densely, Isham’s daughter Julia reserved six acres for a public park to honor her late father and to preserve the property’s significant viewshed for future generations. Isham’s sister Flora (Julia's aunt), donated a few more acres in 1912, and two additional donations were made by Julia in 1915 (after her brother's sudden death) and 1917. The City of New York purchased the remaining acreage in 1925 and 1927. Under the direction of Robert Moses in the 1930s and 1940s, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation built a playground and baseball field in the northwestern portion where it abuts Inwood Hill Park and razed the mansion and ancillary structures. Landscape architect Michael Rapuano created pathways terminating in framed vistas and two circular stone terraces. The smaller, walled lower terrace holds four stone benches and is edged on the east by a semi-circular planting bed. Much of the property’s pastoral character was also maintained, with rolling lawns and mature stands of trees and shrubs, including a large gingko. An eroded, Inwood marble projection indicates the area’s bedrock formation.
Photo copyright Diane Love