Inwood Hill Park is a public park located in Manhattan, New York City’s Inwood neighborhood, operated by the New York City Parks and Recreation Department. On a high schist ridge which rises from Dyckman Street to the northern tip of the island 200 feet (61 m) above the Hudson River, the densely folded, glacially scoured topography of Inwood Hill Park contains the largest remaining old-growth forest on Manhattan Island. Unlike other parks in Manhattan, Inwood Hill Park is largely natural, and consists of mostly wooded, unpaved hills.
Inwood Hill Park has a human history going back to Pre-Columbian times. Native Americans known as the Lenape inhabited the area through the 17th century. There is evidence of a principal encampment along the park’s eastern side. The Lenape relyed as food sources on both the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Artifacts and remnants of old campfires have been found in the rock shelters of Inwood, indicating their use as shelter and temporary living quarters.
Legend has it that under a tulip tree in the park, Peter Minuit, Director-General of New Holland, bought Manhattan for the Dutch West India Company from a band of Native Americans in 1626; the purchase price is a shipment of goods worth 60 guilders. The vine, the island ‘s largest tulip, survived for decades, until a storm in 1933 felled it. The base of the tree under which this transaction allegedly took place was still to be seen until the 1950s, surrounded by a large iron fence, but as it rotted it was finally removed and replaced by a boulder (Shorakkopoch Rock) and plaque.
Fort Cockhill, one of many forts constructed by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War in New York, stood far north from Inwood Hill Park ‘s centre. A low, five-sided earthen structure armed with two cannons at its confluence with the Hudson River, it overlooked the mouth of Spuyten Duyvil Creek. At the time, the neighborhood was known as Cox ‘s Hill or Tubby Hook Hill from Colonial to post – Revolutionary War times.
While the area that is now Inwood Hill Park was the location of one of Manhattan’s last farms – that lasted to at least c. 1890 – By the 19th century it was primarily the site of country retreats for some of the community’s wealthiest families and the majority of New York’s social elite. One such notable who had a summer estate in Inwood was Isidor Straus, department store co-owner of Macy’s and a passenger on the RMS Titanic’s ill-fated voyage. Two mansions built within the park were owned by the Lords of the Lord & Taylor department store chain; both mansions were destroyed by fire in the later part of the 19th. Additionally, there was an orphanage high on a bluff in what is now nineteenth-century Inwood Hill Park. Today’s site includes a small paved area and park benches; there is no trace left over from the building. In the park arise at least three freshwater springs, one of which was used by the workers who built the Henry Hudson Bridge for drinking water.