Morningside Park designated a City landmark

Morningside Park will be City’s tenth scenic landmark. On July 15, 2008, Landmarks voted to designate Morningside Park a scenic landmark, the first since 1983. Designed by Central Park architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the park consists primarily of a stone cliff between 110th and 123rd Streets, separating the neighborhoods of Morningside Heights and Harlem. Built between 1867 and 1895, the 30-acre park also features curvilinear walks, a buttressed stone retaining wall, a pond, and a waterfall. At an April 10, 2007 hearing, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe expressed strong support for designation. 4 CityLand60 (May 15, 2007).

Morningside Park has undergone some substantial alterations in its history, including a playground installation by Robert Moses in the 1940s. In the 1960s, Columbia University planned to build a gymnasium in the park, a plan that was ultimately quashed by student and community protests. Neglected throughout much of the 20th century, the Parks Department undertook a large restoration project in 1989.

Landmarks Commissioners Margery Perlmutter and Diana Chapin shared memories of the park from their days as Columbia undergraduates. Chapin called the park “a wonderful example of our greatest park architects,” while Perlmutter expressed surprise that it was not already a designated landmark. Commissioner Christopher Moore called the park “one of the most naturally stunning landscapes in the City,” and Chair Robert Tierney credited Parks for its “attentive and mindful” stewardship in recent decades. Landmarks unanimously voted to designate.

LPC: Morningside Park Scenic Landmark, Manhattan (LP-2254) (July 15, 2008).

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