4. McGowan’s Pass

McGowan's Pass

These stone walls are the ruins of the 1842 Academy of Mount St. Vincent, known today as McGowan’s Pass. After St. Vincent’s moved out in the 1850s, the original buildings were used for a hotel, a restaurant, and a museum. During the Civil War, they may have been used as a hospital and rehab for wounded soldiers. Frederick Law Olmsted and his family lived here while Olmsted directed the landscaping of the Park. On the original Greensward Plan, it is marked “Mount St Vincent, House of Refreshment.”

The original Mount Saint Vincent buildings burned in 1881, but another tavern was built in its place. The last restaurant at the pass, McGown’s Pass Tavern, was closed and razed in 1915-1917. However, its driveways and foundations remain and the Central Park Conservancy uses it as a mulching and composting area.

Where to find it: Behind the Conservatory Gardens at 105th Street, at the top edge of the steep hill.