Inwood Hill Park is unique as the last bit of unchanged land in one of the world’s most developed places. A trip up to 215th Street on New York’s A train leaves you only blocks from a place that existed pretty much as is long before all those things that now define New York existed. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I walk the paths through this quiet place on a summer’s day. My imagination is left free to wander in the peace the park provides. Large caves in massive glacial rock outcroppings only fifty feet off the trails still remain where Lenape Native Americans once took shelter, near their settlement of Shorakapkok. Near the waters of the Hudson is supposedly the place where Manhattan was bought by Peter Minuit for 60 guilders (about $600 today).
The sounds of the city disappear. Birds chirp from high up in the branches, the only skyline in sight. From certain places down by the meetings of the Hudson and Harlem rivers it’s possible to look at the tip of Manhattan and see what the whole island once must have looked like when the Lenape were fishing for clams and oysters in these waters. It’s a bittersweet spot to contemplate what the world has become and what we have lost in the process.