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Morningside Park The Highlights
Morningside Park takes its name from the eastern side—where the sun rises in the morning—of the rugged cliff of Manhattan schist which separates Morningside Heights on the west from the Harlem Plain to the east. The area was formerly known as Muscoota to the Indians of the Harlem Plain, Vredendal (Peaceful Dale) to 17th century Dutch settlers, and Vandewater Heights after the Dutch landowner who acquired property here in 1738. On September 16, 1776, during the Revolutionary War Battle of Harlem Heights, colonial forces retreated on a road through the area.
Three blockhouse fortifications were built here and used during the War of 1812. Today, this narrow strip that stretches 13 blocks through the neighborhoods of Harlem and Morningside Heights, blends dramatic landscaping with the pleasures of a community park. Built on a steep incline, multiple playgrounds nestle at the bottom of its cliff-like hillside, and visitors pause along its heights to take in a unique view. Winding paths bordered with flowers and trees lead to a cascading waterfall, across from which local teams play on its baseball fields. Parents bring their children to play in its playgrounds and on Saturdays local farmers sell their goods in an outdoor market. With its convenient location in the heart of Northern Manhattan, only a few blocks from Columbia University, Riverside Park, St. Nicholas Park, the Apollo Theater, and the northern tip of Central Park, Morningside Park’s grounds make an ideal starting point for wanderings, bike rides, and walking tours.
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