Cunningham Park

The Basics:

  • Public transportation: Subway — E or F train to Union Turnpike and transfer to the eastbound Q46 bus to 195th Street.  Long Island Railroad — to Jamaica station and transfer to the Q44 bus towards Flushing.  At Union Turnpike, transfer to the eastbound Q46 bus to 195th Street.
  • Car: Grand Central Parkway to Francis Lewis Boulevard northbound, exit 20.  Francis Lewis Boulevard and make a left at the first light onto Union Turnpike.  Turn left into the parking lot across from 196th Place.

The Details:

Cunningham Park’s 358 acres may have taken city officials 16 years to assemble (1928-44) but it was worth the wait.  The land’s first settlers, the Mantinecocks of 7,000 years ago, prized the area for fishing, hunting and farming; today we can revel in the bucolic 243 acres reserved as the Cunningham Park Preserve, one of the Parks Department’s Forever Wild sites.

Cunningham Park

Cunningham Park, S. Romar

Of those 243 acres, approximately 60 are a pristine woodland called the Southern Forest with mature Red and Black Oaks, Tuliptrees, Hickories and an understory of Flowering Dogwoods, wildflowers and at least 18 different ferns.  Its counterpart, the Northern Forest, remained farmland for a longer period of time before restoration efforts began, thus the tuliptree and dogwood forest is younger.

Besides forested areas, the landscape speaks to its glacial past with kettle ponds, knobs and vernal pools home to such creatures like Spring Peepers, a native frog that fills the springtime air with their song.

Cunningham Park

Cunningham Park, S. Romar

Enjoy the picnic area off Union Turnpike for a pre- or post-hike snack.  As an extra bonus, Cunningham Park connects to the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, a former roadway preserved as a trail and links up with other nature hot spots like Alley Pond Park.


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