Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Isham Park is 98 years old today September 28, 2010

Today is the anniversary of the original celebration of the gift of Isham Park to New York City.  The park is 98 years old today, Tuesday, September 28, 2010.

View from Isham Park to the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades in 1913
Credit: Archives of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation 
Julia Isham Taylor was the generous donor of the first of what turned into a series of parcels of land by Isham family members in honor of her father, William Bradley Isham, who died in 1909.  Mr. Isham had owned and occupied the northern Manhattan land since 1864.

A New York Times article, dated March 24, 1912, describes one fact all but unknown today: that the gift of Isham Park preceded the city's purchase of Inwood Hill Park.  In fact, news of the gifts of land for Isham Park helped to inspire support for the purchase of the land that became Inwood Hill Park.

According to Parks Commissioner Stover, as quoted in The New York Times on the day of the Civic Celebration in 1912, the gift of Isham Park was the first gift of private land for the purpose of a public park in Manhattan. This fact and much of the historic information gathered on Isham Park can be credited to Gail Addiss who is a founding member of the group "Volunteers for Isham Park," formed in June 2009.

The Volunteers are dedicated to the history and physical improvement of Isham Park, in conjunction with the Partnerships for Parks, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the City Parks Foundation, and existing Isham Park volunteer groups, such as Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden, and independent gardeners.  

In addition to our other parks related activities, the members of Volunteers for Isham Park are beginning to collect funds and plan to hold a centennial celebration of the Gift of Isham Park on September 28, 2012.  Please watch for related events over the next two years.  If interested in becoming a member of the Volunteers or in making a tax deductible donation to "Volunteers for Isham Park," please contact us at: volunteersforishampark@gmail.com.

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