Image courtesy Friends of Van Cortlandt Park

Walking along the John Kieran Nature Trail, deep in The Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park, hikers will come across an urban Stonehenge, a row of thirteen, 10-feet tall stone pillars among the trees.

The pillars were placed along the Putnam railroad tracks in 1903 on the orders of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Made of different stones like marble, limestone, and granite, the pillars were exposed to the elements in order to test which type of stone would work best on the facade of Grand Central Terminal. Indiana limestone proved to be the most durable and cheapest to transport along the rail lines.

The Grand Central Stones before restoration

For decades, the pillars were covered in graffiti, deteriorated, and surrounded by overgrown forest. Now, thanks to funding from the Paul and Klara Porzelt Foundation, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park were able to partner with the Municipal Art Society (MAS) for a Grand Central Stones Restoration Project. The goals of the project were to clean and restore the Grand Central Stones, improve landscaping, improve access and carry out long-term maintenance. The work was carried out by the Tatti Art Conservation. As the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park states, “By ‘restoring’ the stones, we had layers and layers of graffiti and paint Parks had used to cover the graffiti cleaned off of them. They are still weathering naturally.”

The stones after restoration. Image courtesy Friends of Van Cortlandt Park

Park visitors can see the newly cleaned and restored stones west of the Putnam Trail, along the old railway line, just above the bridge at the southern end of the lake.

Image courtesy Friends of Van Cortlandt Park

Image courtesy Friends of Van Cortlandt Park

To also learn more about the history and secrets of Grand Central Terminal, make sure to join us for a future tour:

Tour of the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal

Next, check out Daily What?! Van Cortlandt Park Vaults From 1776 Hid NYC’s Important Records During the Revolution and Tibbetts Brook: Raising A Buried Stream in the Bronx. Contact the author @NicoleSaraniero.