6. The Mansion of Cornelius K.G. Billings was once one of Manhattan’s most luxurious homes
At the site of Fort Tryon Park was once a country estate owned by Cornelius K.G. Billings, a wealthy industrialist and horseman from Chicago. By 1907, the C.K.G. Billings estate was completed with a 25,000-square-foot lodge and stables, a luxurious mansion, and a yacht landing on the Hudson River at Dyckman Street. The lodge even offered views southward as far as the Statue of Liberty. In 1910, Billings had the entire estate photographed to document and showcase his wealth.
Although C.K.G. Billings’ mansion burned down in the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller salvaged the remaining structure and incorporated it into the park design. What survived is the Billings Arcade, a 50-foot arched structure that served as the original driveway. It is part of a 1,600-foot brick driveway that leads to the mansion through the Billings gatehouse, which was renamed the Fort Tryon Cottage. The cottage sits to the northwest of Corbin Circle.
The Billings mansion was not the only exquisite home in the area; Lucius Chittenden, a New Orleans merchant, built an estate west of the intersection of 187th Street and Cabrini Boulevard. Chittenden names a short avenue with a view of the Hudson River and with a few Art Deco buildings. Nearby was the home of C. P. Bucking, a manufacturer of sheepskins, who named it Pinehurst.