Fort Washington Park

Fort Washington Park

Fort Washington Park is the perfect rural retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a lush green space that offers spectacular views to the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. Learn all about this beautiful park’s history by reading below.

Fort Washington Park is located right by the Hudson River. It occupies a vast plot of land that’s over 160 acres in size in the neighborhood of Washington Heights. The park stretches from W. 155th St. to Dyckman St. along the Hudson River Greenway. Its location next to the river makes it offer unparalleled views of the George Washington Bridge and neighboring New Jersey.

Fort Washington Park

Fort Washington Park

The name for the park derives from the Battle of Fort Washington that took place during the Revolutionary War. Troop leader George Washington ordered his soldiers to set up camp in Upper Manhattan due to its proximity to the water. The area’s elevation from sea level was convenient in order to stop the enemy’s forces from venturing further inland.

Many of Washington Heights’ residents venture into Fort Washington Park on a daily basis. The park offers tons of amenities in which one can enjoy the outdoors year-round. There are lots of great facilities in which one can play sports such as baseball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and soccer. There are hiking trails across many of the park’s lush green meadows and hills. There are public bathrooms scattered around the park as well as dog-friendly areas. There are biking paths, barbecuing areas, and even playgrounds for the little ones.

Fort Washington Park

Fort Washington Park NYC

One of such playgrounds is named after one of Upper Manhattan’s most esteemed residents, Lily Brown. She was a devoted member of the community who was known for volunteering during her free time. Brown organized clean-up drives as well as many other not-for-profit projects. She improved the life of her neighbors by forming the River Terrace Neighborhood Committee and the Neighborhood Action Coalition. Her passion for activism is still fondly remembered to this day. The playground was restored in 2002 and has tons of fun features for the use of toddlers and young children. Some of them include play structures, swings, game tables, game spaces, and even spray showers for the warmer months.

The park is also home to the iconic Little Red Lighthouse located underneath the George Washington Bridge. The lighthouse was built by the U.S. Coast Guard to act as a guide for ships docking at night. It was called Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse when it first opened. The tiny tower’s red exterior served as the inspiration behind the classic children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse.”In the tale, the lighthouse’s happy life is turned upside down after a bridge is built over it. After struggling to move on at first, the lighthouse learns to adapt to its new circumstances. It discovers that it still has an important role to play in life by continuing to help others.

Fort Washington Park NYC

A decade after its opening, the Coast Guard reached the decision to shut the lighthouse down. However, many parents of children who had read the book fought to keep it from being torn apart. In a surprising move, the Coast Guard gave in and donated the property to NYC Parks. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The Little Red Lighthouse still stands today as a reminder of the past and as Manhattan’s only lighthouse.

Another of the park’s highlights is the Dyckman Street Boat Marina. This scenic marina used to transport vehicles from the New Jersey Palisades to the island of Manhattan. The land the marina currently sits on was abandoned for decades. However, in 1987 park officials decided to add a pier and a restaurant to breathe new life into the surrounding area.

A new restaurant called La Marina sits on the bay and offers spectacular views to the Hudson River and the city’s skyline. The Dyckman Street Boat Marina forms part of Fort Washington Park’s spectacular waterfront. It is named after the same family who owned the Dyckman Farmhouse on 4881 Broadway. They donated the house to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation in 1916. It now operates as a museum and educates visitors about the history of Washington Heights.

Fort Washington Park NYC

Check out these other great Washington Heights Parks!

Inwood Hill Park

Fort Tryon Park

Highbridge Park

Bennett Park

 

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Edgar Catasus

Edgar is a a film fanatic, a food lover, and an Upper West Side enthusiast. After working in PR and marketing in Chicago, he is pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. He loves photography and on his spare time you can find him hiking or biking the great outdoors (while also snapping some pretty awesome Instagram pics!).

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