3. Morningside Park

The rocky terrain of Morningside Heights is full of rocky Manhattan schist, some which dates to over 30 million years ago. The area was previously settled by the Harlem Plain Indians, who called the area Muscoota, and was later settled by the Dutch and called Vandewater Heights, named after a Dutch settler. You can still find the glacial outcroppings throughout Morningside Park however – some of it even supports PS 36.

If the Commissioners of New York City could have had their way, the Manhattan street grid would have extended through what is now Morningside Park. But the park is one of the many exceptions to the Manhattan street plan of 1807. In the late 1860s, the Commissioner of Central Park, Andrew H. Green, put forth the idea for Morningside Park, arguing that it would be very costly and very inconvenient to extend the Manhattan street grid over this topography. Green wrote that “the ridge of rocks is almost vendureless, breaks so abruptly towards the east as to render the streets that have been laid over it in rigid conformity with the plan of the city, very expensive to work.”