Van Cortlandt Park, located in the Bronx district of New York City, is a tranquil oasis for city dwellers looking to take a break from their hectic lives. This sprawling 1,146-acre estate is the third largest park in New York City and has a rich history that dates back to the Dutch colonial period. In 1646, Adriaen Van Der Donck became the first person to own land in what is now Van Cortlandt Park. The farm went through several generations, each of whom worked to transform the land into a functional plantation.
Before European colonization, the lands of present-day New York City and Van Cortlandt Park belonged to the native people of the Weckquaesgeek Lenape. George Washington even used the Van Cortlandt house as a temporary place of residence during his travels between settlements of the United States. The house has since been transformed into a museum. In 1888, New York City acquired the property and it has since become a public park. Robert Moses, head of the New York City Parks Department in 1933, was instrumental in renovating Van Cortlandt Park to make it what it is today.
The park is home to five unique hiking trails, several freshwater fishing lakes, and two public golf courses - one of which is the first public golf course not only in New York City but in the entire United States. The Putnam Trail in the park crosses the golf course and follows the tracks of the old Putnam railroad line, which carried passengers from New York to Brewster, in Putnam County, near the Connecticut border. The Battle of Indian Field was also fought on Van Cortlandt's property. The Van Cortlandt Parks Alliance works closely with the Parks and Recreation Department to preserve, support, and promote the recreational, ecological, and historic value of the park. At the north end of subway line 1 is Van Cortlandt Park, one of the largest parks in New York City. Van Cortlandt Park has a long and captivating history that dates back centuries. From its humble beginnings as a plantation owned by Dutch settlers to its current status as a public park with countless outdoor activities, this majestic estate has something for everyone.