This 196-acre park is located on the northwest tip of Manhattan and
includes last natural forest and salt marsh on the island. Humans have
lived in this area since prehistoric times and immediately preceding the
arrival of Europeans in the 17th century it was inhabited by the Lenape.
During the Colonial period it was know a Cock or Cox Hill and colonists
farmed here. In the 19th century it was home to the Straus family's
country estate, a charity house for women and a free public library.
The Department of Parks purchased the land in 1916, demolishing the
buildings and restoring the salt marsh to create a public park.
Columbia University's Baker Field and the adjoining athletic complex were
built adjacent to the northeast edge of the park in 1921. During the 1930s,
WPA workers build many of the existing roads and trails through the park,
many of which seemed not to have been improved much when I visited in 2005.