Beauty and Hope in Upper Manhattan
“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”
– Lady Bird Johnson
Springtime and vaccines have brought us rays of hope. Mr. TWS and I are daring to think about travel again — domestic and international. After a year of reminiscing, we’ve added speculation about next trips to our travel thoughts. We have plenty of revisits on our list as well as new places to explore. Our thoughts often turn to fond memories of New York City and hopes that we’ll be able to return soon.
Springtime in New York
Manhattan-based photographer, Barbara Nelson, took every opportunity to capture scenes of the city under lockdown last spring –illuminating a stark contrast to pre-pandemic life in New York. But her photographs also showcased special places where beauty and hope can always be found.
Fort Tryon Park is one of those places. Located in Upper Manhattan, the northernmost part of the island generally considered to be above 96th Street, the park is a beautiful place to visit in any season. It is especially alluring in the spring when New Yorkers relax on the lawns or walk/jog on the paths amid the towering trees and blooming flowers. Here is a refuge from everyday life — a place offering a respite from the bustle, crowds, and sounds of the city. It’s a place of optimism and hope.
I asked Barbara if I could share some of her photos on TWS. Enjoy these glimpses of Upper Manhattan and Fort Tryon Park from her photo essays, Fort Tryon Park – Carved from Boulders and Deep Woods and My Year in the Heights.
Scenes of Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park is one of ten designated scenic landmarks in New York City.
“The Landmarks Preservation Commission finds that the design of Fort Tryon Park represents a skillful integration of its various elements, including views of the Hudson River, surviving remains of 19th-century estates, artful plantings, and architecture, and shall have landmark designation.” — Official Landmarks Preservation Commission Report (1983)
“Carved out of boulders, cliffs, and deep wooded areas, the 66.6 acres of Fort Tryon has panoramic views of the lower Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge and New Jersey Palisades. Here is one of the few unspoiled river views in Manhattan.” — BN
On three acres within Fort Tryon Park near the south entrance, the Heather Garden has over 550 varieties of plants and trees, and one of the largest heath and heather collections on the East Coast. There are great views of the Hudson River from the garden, too.
“Living on the edge of Fort Tryon Park I take the “allowed” walks — quite pretty actually with the beginning of spring (which knows no virus). The yellows, pinks, and beginning of tulips of multi-colors … ” — BN
The words of warning and wisdom on the sign in the photo: “Let no one say, and say it to your shame, That all was beauty here, before you came.”
There are beautiful views looking over the Hudson River from various points in the park.
“Most days big ships can be seen as they are being pushed up river by Manhattan’s famous tug boats where they are anchored until time to reload and ship out.” — BN
Art treasures of Fort Tryon
“The Cloisters, a reconstructed French medieval monastery (brought here from Europe), is located in the northern section of Fort Tryon Park. Now a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it was designated an official New York City landmark and houses nearly 5,000 medieval works.” — BN
You can find some photos of works at The Cloisters in a previous post on TWS — The Cloisters: Medieval Manhattan
A few historical points about Fort Tryon
The park is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Located on one of the highest points in Manhattan with a clear view up and down the Hudson River, Fort Tryon was always a strategic military point. Over 66 acres, the park was originally inhabited by the Weckquaesgeek Tribe until the early 17th century. Later called “lang Bergh” (Long Hill) by the early Dutch colonists, renamed Fort Washington by the Continental Army in 1776, and finally the British renamed the area Fort Tryon for Sir William Tryon — Major General and the last British governor of colonial New York.”
“The first American woman to take a solder’s part in the war for liberty and be wounded on the battlefield during the struggle to be free of foreign governance, and the first woman to receive a military pension, was Margaret Corbin (1751-1800). In 1776 the Continental Army was trying to hold back the British supported Hessian mercenaries from a strategic point in upper Manhattan now known as Fort Tryon Park. When her husband fell in the battle she took over his cannon and continued the fight.”
“In 1917 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. bought the land and existing mansion, hired the Olmsted Brothers (famed for their work in Prospect and Central Park) who began landscaping the property with promenades, terraces, wooded slopes plus 8 miles of pedestrian paths affording spectacular views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.” — BN
“That is one good thing about this world–there are always sure to be more springs.” – L.M. Montgomery
For more information: Fort Tryon Park Trust
Refreshment break tips: About 10 minutes walk from the entrance to the park is a little “village area” with restaurants with indoor/outdoor seating and diverse menus, and a couple of good grocery stores if anyone wants to take a picnic in the park. Near the northern end of the park, Cloisters Grill and Tryon Public House are two places to consider. Check with the restaurants directly about dining options (dine-in, curbside pick up, etc.) and safety measures.
Family fun tip: At the entrance of the park there is a new playground for children with swings and numerous colorful structures for climbing, crawling, and sliding.
Getting to Fort Tryon Park: Transportation to Fort Tryon is easy. The New York Subway A train stops right in front of the entrance. It’s an express train so takes approximately 40 minutes from 42nd Street in Midtown. There is also street parking (but sometimes difficult to find a space) and nearby parking garages.
Midtown Manhattan to Fort Tryon — map and options
For more information about Barbara Nelson and her on-location photography workshops: