Fort Tryon Park

Take the A train for a thirty-minute ride from Downtown Manhattan until you reach the 190th Street Station. There, the exit will be a long tunnel from which you will pass through to get outside. Take a left, walking alongside the tall hilltops until you reach a long flight of stairs. Climb the stairs and as you go higher and higher, watch through the leaves, the buildings slowly disappear and the roar of cars vanish until you are left with nothing but tall trees, the songs of birds, beautiful flowers, and large rock cliffs. It’s like you’ve completely gone into the wilderness, even though said wilderness is in the biggest city of America. That’s the magic of Fort Tryon Park.

I first went there my freshman year on a whim. I was exploring the nearby neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood and once I saw the high hills and beautiful landscape, I knew I had to go. I cannot forget the wonder and awe I had then. It was like I had stumbled backward in time, and as I had that thought, there poking above the treetops was a medieval monastery smack dab in the middle of the park. I couldn’t believe it. But then it got better. As I rounded the monastery up to the westward side of the park, the tree canopies opened to a view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. It was unreal that this much natural beauty was in New York City. So from then on, every couple of months or so, I returned and kept returning.

Fort Tryon Park was established in 1935, a project created by billionaire John D. Rockefeller Jr. when he walked through the area and said, “This is nice. We should make a park here.” Not only did he buy the land for this park, but bought the land across the Hudson to preserve the Palisades, and then decided eh, why not ship a twelfth century monastery from Europe to place here. That monastery became the Met Cloisters, a museum which holds the Met’s medieval European art and is open to the public (students can pay any price for admission). The park’s layout was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the son of the designer of Central Park and features many shared aesthetic components from managed wilderness to beautiful rows of flowers and trees like the Heather and Alpine Gardens. It has Manhattan’s largest dog run, volleyball courts, gazebos, and meadows to picnic at.

Events at the park range from sunset yoga to art exhibitions to jazz concerts to even an entire medieval festival in October. As a public park, admission into it and these events are free. However, I’ve found my best moments in this park by being alone and just hiking through it. It’s a calming experience, it feels like you’ve gotten away from the troubles and worries of the City with all the time to think and de-stress and look around at nature; and then burn a lot of calories from hiking through the steep terrain. At points, there’s even hidden staircases off the main roads that you can climb up, fulfilling a need for discovery and adventure.

Once done, and you’ve walked down, tired with your legs aching; the nearby neighborhood of Inwood has a lot of restaurants and delis nearby to grab food from. And if you seek a round two, there’s another park nearby called Inwood Hill Park that provides more wild terrain than Fort Tryon, but I digress. If you’re looking for a fun and free adventure to take part in without going too far, Fort Tryon Park is your best option.

Jared Skoro is a junior at NYU Gallatin studying a mix of English, Political Science, and Psychology. In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, and exploring a new neighborhood of the city every weekend.

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