- Several entry points to the Park.
- Public transportation is recommended — take the 1 or 9 train and walk west to the Park. The M5 bus runs along Riverside Drive.
Quite possibly the narrowest major park in the city at just 1/8th of a mile, Riverside Park is considered one of the crown jewels of the Parks Department. And the nature isn’t bad either!
Running four miles from 72nd to 158th Street (not including the newer section called Riverside Park South, starting at 59th Street and connecting into the park), Riverside Park was once a heavily wooded area hugging the Hudson River. Though much of the woods may have been removed, enormous boulders and rocky outcroppings give evidence of the area’s glacial past.
In 1846 a railroad carved through the woods, though later years saw a renewed appreciation for this landscape. Fredrick Law Olmstead, co-designer of Central Park, was commissioned in 1873 for a conceptual plan and during subsequent years several architects and horticulturalists put their imprint on the area.
Today, recreation opportunities abound including the 79th Street Boat Basin and kayak launches (season and weather permitting), along with beautiful architecture with the park’s many memorials including Grant’s Tomb. But within these 323 acres are wonderful places to see the city’s nature, especially since 16 acres are preserved in the Parks Department’s Forever Wild program.
About 13,000 trees shade the park. While many were planted for ornamental purposes, a great location to view diverse native species is between 95th and 125th Streets, which features Tuliptree, White Oak, Pin Oak, American Beech, Sweetgum, and Northern Catalpa.
Riverside Park is well known for birding, particularly with its bird sanctuary running from 116th to 129th Street, which is undergoing restoration work to remove invasive species. Approximately 144 species have been recorded including Peregrine Falcons, various hawks, Blue Jays, Northern Mockingbirds, American Robins, and House Finches, while a walk along the Hudson River yields view of ducks and geese.
The Park sometimes makes the news with some unexpected animal visitors. Wild Turkeys have been spotted, along with the occasional Coyote, while Harbor Seals sometimes haul out on the rocks or at the Boat Basin in very cold winters!
- “Adorable Upper West Side Visitor Spotted at Boat Basin” by Jen Chung, published in Gothamist on January 29, 2008, accessed at: http://gothamist.com/2008/01/29/adorable_upper.php
- Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City by Leslie Day, published 2007 by Johns Hopkins University Press.
- “Hands Off That Bird, and Don’t Even Utter Cranberry Sauce” by Patrick Healy, published in the New York Times on November 24, 2003, accessed at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/24/nyregion/24TURK.html
- The New York City Audubon Society Guide to Finding Birds in the Metropolitan Area by Marcia T. Fowle and Paul Kerlinger, published 2001 by Cornell University Press.
- New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, accessed on May 20, 2009 at http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riversidepark/
- New York City Trees: A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area by Edward Sibley Barnard, 2002, Columbia University Press.
- The Riverside Park Fund, accessed on May 20, 2009 at: http://www.riversideparkfund.org/
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