VAN CORTLANDT PARK, at the extreme north end of the city, comprises in its diversified area a high ridge which carries the Croton aqueduct, a wide level plain which is a parade ground of the National Guard, and a lake resorted to in winter by skaters and players of the Scotch game of curling; then there are golf links, ball grounds, and, as the chief thing of interest, the Van Cortlandt Mansion. The house is an interesting example of Dutch architecture. It was built by Frederick Van Cortlandt in 1748; and the thick rubble stone walls are as solid to-day as a century and a half ago. A row of horse chestnuts is reputed to be 175 years old.
In 1896 the house was given by the Park Commission into the custody of the Colonial Dames of the State of New York, by whom it is maintained as a public museum. It is open daily, 10 to 6 in summer, 10 to 5 in winter; 2 to 6 on Sunday. Admission 25 cents on Thursdays; on other days free. The interior has an old-fashioned air, but it tells all through the story of substantial means and generous living. There are huge fireplaces faced with scriptural tiles, deep window seats, a generous wine closet in the wall, a big Dutch oven in the kitchen, and a cellar with massive hand-hewn beams of cedar and cypress, and 3-foot walls loop-holed for muskets. Washington made his headquarters here on his way to the entry of New York in 1783, and the Washington Room is now the museum, containing many Colonial and Revolutionary mementoes, among them the four-post bedstead on which Washington slept. Altogether, the Van Cortlandt House is the best relic New York has of the old regime, and it is a charming place to visit.