5. Riverside Park and Drive

Riverside Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted

Original plans for Riverside Park were devised in the early 1870s, with plans for the park to run in a straight line with a retaining wall. Fearing how to handle the western side of Manhattan’s topography, Manhattan park commissioners selected Frederick Law Olmsted to redesign the park. Olmsted first devised creating a main road that extended from 72nd to 123rd Street, while the park would be designed around existing landscapes, factoring in the park’s views and foliage.

Construction on Riverside Park began around 1874, though Olmsted was removed from his superintendent post in 1877. Inspired by the layout of the Hudson Valley, Olmsted, alongside Vaux, Munckwitz, and Samuel Parsons laid out stretches of the park. Considering the park spanned dozens of blocks, each portion had a different layout and design, with some parts functioning better with the steep terrain. Olmsted’s offer to work with Vaux on a more unified design was denied, so sections of the park were completed years later than others.