Well, maybe you do know about Wave Hill, a “public garden and cultural center” in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. But, I’ve lived in NYC for nearly seven years, and consider myself pretty well informed, and until a week ago I have never heard of this gorgeous oasis.
Here’s the low-down: Wave Hill is what I’d classify as a mini version of the Brooklyn or New York Botanical Gardens, there are 28-acres of gardens and woodland trails. The main draw is the quietude and the view–the gardens overlook the Hudson River and Palisades and there are many big chairs and benches tucked away under trees, making it the perfect place to escape the city and think deep thoughts.
Which is exactly what I did–I bought the rail and admission combo ticket and took a short 20-minute Metro North ride to Riverdale, where a free shuttle was waiting to take me the short distance to Wave Hill. I walked the gardens and trails, stopping to read my book of short stories, or write a few pages of my novel in progress (with a pen in a notebook of all things!) or just stare off into the distance. There is also a small art gallery which featured works inspired by the gardens (my favorite was oil paintings with random looped video projections of footage from the gardens).
I love the expansiveness and amazing gardens and special exhibits and events that the big gardens and parks in the city offer, but Wave Hill was a refreshing and secluded find–it was something that felt like a hidden secret–which is hard to come by in a city so populated that most things worth doing are nearly unbearably crowded.
“Theodore Roosevelt’s family rented the Wave Hill house during the summers of 1870 and ‘71, when the future president was a youth of 12 and 13. Teddy’s time here significantly deepened his love of nature and love of the outdoors that would later prompt him to secure the preservation of millions of acres of American parkland. ”
“Mark Twain leased the estate from 1901-1903, setting up a treehouse parlor in the branches of a chestnut tree on the lawn. Of winter at Wave Hill he wrote, I believe we have the noblest roaring blasts here I have ever known on land; they sing their hoarse song through the big tree-tops with a splendid energy that thrills me and stirs me and uplifts me and makes me want to live always. ”