At the northernmost end of the 1 train subway line sits Van Cortlandt Park, one of the largest parks in New York City. Once a plantation belonging to the Dutch Van Cortlandt family of New Amsterdam, the property was acquired by the City of New York on December 12th, 1888. The park has been employed for many more uses than it was originally intended to provide and is now a gathering place for local residents to go hiking, golfing, or cycling, play or watch a wide variety of sports, and learn about local history.
Here are ten of the park’s secrets:
1. You Can Hike Along an Abandoned Rail Line
The park’s Putnam Trail crosses the golf course and follows the path of the rails from the old New York & Putnam Railroad line that would carry passengers from New York to Brewster in Putnam County, close to the Connecticut border. From Brewster, connections could be made further northeast to Boston and even to Montreal, Canada. The last passenger train to run on these tracks departed in 1958. The tracks themselves remain today, overgrown and out of use, running alongside the trail.
Forty-five total miles of the former Putnam railroad line are accessible today as a rail trail, starting in Van Cortlandt Park and going all the way to Brewster. You can get more information about this and other rail trails here.