Visit Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers, NY
We became aware of the Untermyer Park and Gardens after a major article appeared in the New York Times. Located in Westchester County, NY, this park sits on the former estate of Samuel Untermyer; one that once rivaled the majesty of the nearby Rockefeller mansion.
Unfortunately, although the Untermyer family left their property to the state and county in the mid-1900s following World War II, its grounds were too expensive to maintain and eventually, fell to ruins. The mansion was torn down, but the bones of its terraced garden, including its Indo-Persian architectural detail, reflecting ponds, pools, and ancient columns, remained.
In 2010, the philanthropist, Stephen F. Byrns, founded the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy and has since raised $2 million to return the grounds into a stunning public park.
To enter the park’s main grounds at 945 N Broadway, Yonkers, NY, you pass through a small door in the center of a massive wall.
This leads directly under a tree canopy framing the reflecting ponds, plantings, and the park’s focal point, an area representing the mythical four rivers of Paradise.
We visited on October 8 after the flowering season, when fountains in the canals were turned down. What was left, however, was a breathtaking fall landscape.
I was particularly fascinated with the park’s waterlily collection and found it to be more varied than what I’ve previously seen in botanical gardens.
At the head of the canals, Assyrian winged lions (lamassus, or “guardians”) watch over the meeting grounds.
A nearby tiled observation area is currently fenced off. When fully renovated, it will provide a gathering place where people can overlook the lower ponds and gardens.
The estate sits on the east side of the Hudson River Palisade, from the top of the palisade to almost the edge of the Hudson River. Directly across the Hudson is the western palisade.
Because the grounds run down a steep hill, many of its features are showcased on the different levels, some of which are still being cleared along the Carriage Trail during this renovation period (it should be finished in 2016). Access the trail from the columnized structure seen in the picture below.
From there, you will pass more gardens, a “woodland trail,” and a “vista overlook.” At the lowest level, you’ll arrive at the “Lion and Horse Gate,” which is next to New York’s Old Croton Aqueduct.
In a different section of the park, where the original mansion once stood, are the ruins of the Temple of Love and a rock garden. (Below)
As we visited on an off-season weekday, we were able to stroll around this 43 acre park with only a few other visitors. During the season, tours are available. Listen carefully to what you learn and be sure to record your visit with cameras and sketchbooks.
I most certainly made use of my sketchbook during this visit! The grounds offer inspiration wherever you look.
The Untermyer Gardens Conservancy accepts donations and with them, is building a stunning public park. It is the only one of its type in the United States, and is especially important considering its ease of accessibility by car, its location on the Hudson River, and its nearness to New York City and other historical sites. Let’s keep this dream alive!
- Untermyer Gardens Conservancy – www.UntermyerGardens.org
- Address: 945 N Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701 – Phone: 1-914-613-4502
- Reclaiming Wild Ambition Gone to Seed: by Eve M. Kahn, July 19, 2012, New York Times
- The Return of the Untermyer Gardens: by Garden Design Magazine
- Restoring a Temple of Love as a Yonkers Eden Is Revived: by Lisa W. Foderaro, Oct. 5, 2015, New York Times
- Kykuit – The Rockefeller Estate: Nearby historical park.
Article and art by Karen Little. Photos by Karen and Phil Little. Posted October 10, 2015 on www.Littleviews.com. Request permission to copy any part or all of this article from Karen at Karen@Littleviews.com.
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