At his death in 1925, the multi-million-dollar estate of author and publisher Frank Munsey was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, including nearly 700 acres of rolling woodland in Manhasset, north and south of the highway that was to become a widened Northern Boulevard. Joseph Day, a realtor, was to plan a subdivision of lots to be auctioned. Robert de Forest , president of the museum and of the Russell Sage Foundation, which was sponsoring the then in-progress New York Regional Plan, became concerned when Day’s proposal did not reflect the neighborhood planning principles that the Regional Plan espoused. In 1927 de Forest called upon the Olmsted Brothers, who had previously planned Munsey’s private estate, to improve the planning.
Considering the site’s natural conditions and needs of community-centric design, Olmsted partner Edward Whiting created a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing neighborhood plan on the northern section of the land. Tree-lined interior streets, named for artists (to celebrate the Museum’s connection), curved with the natural topography and encircled blocks with variously sized lots, designed with minimal access to the main highway to avoid cut-through traffic. Five parks, a school, and three business areas were incorporated, the latter restricted to main neighborhood entry points. Building and architectural standards emphasizing the Colonial Revival style were established, and 162 houses were completed by 1930, with a shopping center underway. Beginning in 1932 an eighteen-hole golf course was attempted at the eastern end, but that landscape was returned to residential development a mere five years later.
The Olmsted firm also provided the Museum’s developers with preliminary street-lot layouts for the property south of the main boulevard in late 1927, at which time Munsey’s own estate, the former Sherryland, was purchased by Mrs. Graham Vanderbilt. Little remains of Olmsted planning in this area, as developers, such as William Levitt, restructured the space to meet new demands. In 1938 the Vanderbilt property was sold to Levitt to expand his Strathmore communities, the Munsey mansion preserved as the still extant Strathmore-Vanderbilt Country Club. Munsey Park, an incorporated village since 1930, has retained a strong sense of its character and history, sustained by its local government and various civic associations.