Riverside Park is a waterfront public park that’s 270 acres big, situated on the eastern banks of the Hudson River, featuring waterfront promenades and esplanades, monuments, recreational activities, and beautiful views.
Landmarks and Architecture
Perhaps the most prominent man-made landmark at Riverside Park is Grant’s Tomb. Situated just off West 122nd Street, this monument is the official burial site of Ulysses S. Grant. John H. Duncan designed the Neoclassical structure that pays tribute to the 18th President of the U.S.A. and one of the top generals during the Civil War. Grant’s Tomb roughly marks the northernmost section of the park. The tomb is classified as a New York City Landmark and U.S. National Memorial.
While strolling the trails near 72nd Street, visitors might see the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument. Dedicated in 1996, this bronze installation celebrates the First Lady of the United States who proudly served for an unprecedented four terms.
Situated off 89th Street, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Monument is another top attraction at Riverside Park. Erected in 1902, this massive granite monument honors patriots who fought for the Union Army in the Civil War.
Recreation and Activities
With miles of meandering trails, Riverside Park is a great place for strolls and jogs. There are plenty of waterfront promenades and esplanades that promise stunning views of the Hudson River. Charming bridges and other crossings also add some charm to the heavily-wooded parts of the park that are lined with American Elm trees and Japanese cherry blossom trees.
Kids will have plenty of fun at the Dino Playground and Hippo Playground, which have colorful figures of exotic animals. Featuring clay and hard courts, the tennis center at Riverside Park is located just south of Grant’s Tomb. Additionally, the 96th Street Clay Tennis Courts are open for some competitive play.
Many points at the park offer great views of a romantic sunset over the Hudson River and the skyline of northern New Jersey.
In the middle of the 19th century, railroad tracks ran through most of Manhattan’s eastern banks along the Hudson River. The rapid urbanization of New York City inspired politicians and influential citizens to propose the development of parks.
In the 1870s, the prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to create plans for a new green space in the affluent Upper West Side district. This creative master would eventually design some of NYC’s greatest parks, including Central Park and Prospect Park.
Calvert Vaux is another notable landscape architect who’s credited with beautifying what eventually became known as Riverside Park. Additionally, Samuel Parsons added his own personal touch to the overall layout of this newly established oasis in NYC.
When Robert Moses took power in NYC’s public planning departments in the 1930s, he enthusiastically expanded and enhanced Riverside Park. For example, he initiated the Westside Improvement Project that covered outdated rail tracks and concealed other eye sores that were affiliated with a declining industrial age. Moses successfully received heavy federal funding under the New Deal programs that revived the American economy during the Great Depression.
Visiting Riverside Park
Riverside Park has a relatively narrow and elongated layout that stretches for dozens of blocks on the western side of Manhattan. This beautiful waterfront park hugs the eastern banks of the Hudson River, which separates NYC from New Jersey.
Visitors can enjoy a sanctuary from the vibrant and chaotic atmosphere of the Big Apple. The local hills and other sloped rocky terrains form natural boundaries that mark the eastern edges of the park. Therefore, many of the walkways, trails, and staircases have serpentine shapes that account for steep gradients at the street level of the Upper West Side.
Another notable component of the park is the busy Henry Hudson Parkway that’s heavily used by commuters. Nevertheless, the traffic on this elevated road isn’t directly seen from most points in the park.
The Riverside Park Conservancy was founded in 1986 by concerned neighborhood residents who were committed to improving the Park from its neglected condition. Section by section, these neighbors tended to this long stretch of green along the Hudson River, and over time their dedication, passion, and skills have transformed the Park. We remain true to those community roots, with volunteers at the heart of our work.
The Conservancy’s mission is to restore, maintain, and improve Riverside Park, in partnership with the City of New York, for the enjoyment and benefit of all New Yorkers. From 59th to 181st Streets, our scope of work includes nearly 400 acres of woodlands, scenic promenades, recreation areas, and athletic fields and courts that stretch six majestic miles along the Hudson River. Riverside Park receives millions of diverse visitors annually, many of whom live along the Park’s borders. With park equity and climate change in mind, the Conservancy supports the preservation of the Park’s historic landscape, structures, and monuments, engages the community in active stewardship of the park, and provides a wide range of public programs.
Location: Riverside Park stretches from Riverside Drive to the Hudson River and from West 59th Street to Clair Place.
Click here to visit Riverside Park official website.