VAN CORTLANDT, BRONX, THE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS, THE BOTANICAL GARDENS, PELHAM BAY, INTERSTATE PALISADE PARK AND BEAR MOUNTAIN.
Big as Central Park is, it does not compare with Van Cortlandt Park, 1,132 acres, with its wonderful golf courses; Bronx, which contains 719 acres, and has the largest zoological garden in the world, and the most famous Botanical Gardens; or Pelham Bay Park, which faces the Sound at Pelham Bay. Including the Parkway, which connects it with Bronx, the total area is over 1,756 acres. It has eight miles of salt water shore front, with boating, bathing, fishing, sand pits, merry-go-rounds, etc.
These parks are easily reached by any of the East Side subways and by the West (with a short transfer). A special Guide Book is published by the Zoological Garden management and sold for 25 cents. It is well worth buying, and gives a world of information concerning the animals which we cannot give here. The Monkey House, the Lion House, the Elephant House, the Walrus Pool, the Deer Park, the Fox and Wolf Dens, the Elk Mange, the Bird Houses, the Aviary and all the wonderful birds and mammals are splendidly described.
Bronx Park is reached directly by Bronx subway to 180th Street or the elevated to Fordham station. Admission is free, except Mondays and Thursdays,. Choose them and avoid the crowds.
At the Botanical Garden a guide leaves the front door for the Museum Building on every afternoon at 3 P. M. to escort those who wish to accompany him. Each day the route is changed. This is the only way to properly see the Garden.
Two new parks not generally known to the outside public are the Palisade Inter-State Park, reached by ferry from foot of Dyckman Street, and Fort Tryon Park, at 193rd Street an,:'. Riverside Drive, a gift by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Take West Side subway to Dyckman Street. The former park contains the wonderful palisades of the Hudson. It stretches nearly twenty miles along the west bank of the river d wonderful state road is now ir, process of construction and part of it is now open. Striking views of the Hudson and of lower New York may be had from many points on this road. Fort Tryon Park preserves the New York side of the Hudson, opposite the Interstate and will be developed in harmony with it.
Bear Mountain Park is about forty-five miles from the city, in the heart of the Highlands of the Hudson. It is reached by several special boats, and by the Albany Day Line steamers. The scenery is impressive; it is a wonderful possession for any city to have. West Point is only fifteen minutes further on and the two places can easily be visited in the one day.
It was that eminent English jurist, Lord Haldane, who marveled that so beautiful a river so close to such a large city was not more popular with our people than lie divined the Hudson to be, judging from the few steamboats, yachts, etc., upon it. In this he was eminently right. The vast majority of New Yorkers know nothing about the majesty and beauty of this wonderful river that lies right at our doors. Coney Island, that land of hot dogs and merry-go-rounds, with its noisy crowd, draws a thousand New Yorkers to one that visits the Hudson.
Travelers who have been the world over declare the Hudson has not only no rival, but has nothing even approaching one. All along its crowded slopes nestle quaint little villages, some as old as New York itself. For so important a highway, commerce is strangely absent from its shores. In any European country such a natural and cheap method of communication would be black with sailing craft of all kinds, and huge derricks would be met with at frequent intervals.
Nothing of the kind is to be seen on the Hudson. Aside from the few river boats that ply up and down daily, there is only to be seen an occasional brick schooner beating its way to the city or perhaps a long string of canal boats that have come from some point on the Erie Canal or Buffalo, and are slowly drifting to New York. Even the saucy tugboats that impart a wonderful scene of activity and bustle all over the bay are seldom encountered farther up the river. Perhaps it is just as well. The river bank is almost wholly given up to magnificent private estates and sleepy little villages.
Passing Inwood, which marks the end of Manhattan Island, we see just across the river the magnificent New Interstate Palisade Park, which stretches in an unbroken line for nearly twenty miles along the most wonderful of all nature's creations—the Palisades of the Hudson. The States of New York and New Jersey united in the purchase of this magnificent playground for the people, and its acquisition accomplished a two-fold purpose—it added a park of rare natural beauty to the resources of the. city, and preserved this most wonderful work of nature, the Palisades.
The Palisade Inter State Park can be reached by Ferryboat from the foot of Dyckman Street. Take sub-way West Side and get off at Dyckman Street. It is worth seeing.
At Tarrytown the river widens to almost four miles, and forms a body of water called Tappan Zee. It is also quite deep here, and when a sudden squall comes across the mountains from back of Nyack—a frequent occurrence in summertime—it is apt to raise quite a good-sized commotion, the waves reaching quite a respectable height.
After leaving the Tappan Zee we enter the southern gate of the Highlands and from now on the scenery is fascinating. In about an hour we have passed Peekskill Bay and are at Bear Mountain Park, in the heart of the Highlands. This park was made largely possible by the gift of over 10.000 acres of land by Mrs. E. H. Harriman in memory of her great husband. E. H. Harriman, the famous railroad builder. Other land has since been acquired, roads built through, and a number of public improvements added, including row boats, swings for the children and many other attractions. There is no more beautiful spot in the world than Bear Mountain Park, and when New Yorkers fully realize its attractiveness they will go there by the hundred thousands.
After leaving Bear Mountain Park the next important point which should be seen by all tourists is undoubtedly West Point, the famous military academy. The cadets can be seen at drill and the grounds visited all in a very short time. This excursion should not be missed. The time consumed is about an hour and a half each way. It is a side trip well worth making.
We are now in the very heart of the Highlands and the scenery is bewitching. Sometimes the boat almost touches the shore, so close runs the channel to the bank. Presently we pass Highland Falls, where the late Mr. Morgan lived, and right above it is the far-famed United States Military Academy of West Point.
Directly in front of the Academy is Constitution Island, a present to the government by Mrs. Russell Sage. Beyond the island the river widens out. Crow's Nest, Dunderberg, Storm King, Break Neck and Beacon Mountains tower over the banks. As soon as the steamer emerges from the Highlands, the river opens into beautiful Newburgh Bay, with Cornwall on the west bank, Pollopel's Island in the centre of the river and the quaint city of New-burgh (26,000), county seat of Orange County, directly ahead.
After leaving Newburgh, the whole character of the landscape changes and the river flows through a most beautiful and prolific country, well wooded and undulating.
The stately yacht we have just passed belongs to young Vincent Astor, whose ancestral home, Ferneliffe, is just above Poughkeepsie at Rhinebeck, almost adjoining the country home of the Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy. At Poughkeepsie, how-ever, the trip ends for the day. We catch the down boat from Albany, which lands us in New York about eight o'clock, greatly rested and hugely delighted with all the beauties and wonders we have seen.