Rockefeller State Park Preserve

41°6′42″N 73°50′11″W / 41.11167°N 73.83639°W / 41.11167; -73.83639

A forest with a small river flowing beneath an arched stone bridge
The Pocantico River as it flows through Rockefeller State Park
A typical carriage road on the property

Rockefeller State Park Preserve is a state park in Mount Pleasant, New York in the eastern foothills of the Hudson River in Westchester County. Common activities in the park include horse-riding, walking, jogging, running, bird-watching, and fishing. The park has a rich history and was donated to the State of New York over time by the Rockefeller family beginning in 1983. A section of the park, the Rockwood Hall property, fronts the Hudson River. It was formerly the private residence of William Rockefeller, and began use as a New York state park in the early 1970s. In 2018, the park was added to New York's State Register of Historic Places.[1]

Features edit

A foggy day at Swan Lake

Rockefeller State Park Preserve is designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area with over 180 species, and is known for its wildlife, carriage trails, and scenic vistas. The park's 55 miles (89 km) of carriage roads allow visitors to view the various habitats of the 1,771-acre (7.17 km2)[2] park, which include open meadows, dense forest, meandering brooks, wetlands, and the 24-acre (97,000 m2) Swan Lake.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve abuts the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The preserve also abuts extensive private land owned by the Rockefeller family which is open to the public. The trails in the private area, still in use by the Rockefeller family[3] and also open to the public, connect with those in the state park.[4] Many of these trails were planned and laid out by John D. Rockefeller (Sr.) and his descendants.[5] Access to these trails, and additional access to the state park trails, is available from Sleepy Hollow Road and Bedford Road/Route 448 in Sleepy Hollow. A section of the State Park is west of the Preserve, along the Hudson River, and is called the Rockwood Hall section.

The Visitor Center in the Preserve also has a small art gallery that frequently displays paintings and photographic art works of local artists.[6]

Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, "a nonprofit farm and educational center designed to demonstrate, teach and promote sustainable, community-based food production," is located within walking distance of the preserve.[7] The pigs from Stone Barns often forage in the woods of the preserve. Cattle also graze the preserve's land.[8]

Raven Rock, a large outcrop in the southeaster corner of the Preserve, is mentioned in Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as being "[haunted by a woman in white who] was often heard to shriek on winter nights before a storm, having perished there in the snow".[9]

The park is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset, with office hours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is a $6.00 fee for parking.

Rockwood Hall edit

Rockwood Hall in 1916

Rockwood Hall, a section of the state park, was formerly the site of the home of William Rockefeller, brother of John D. Rockefeller. Laurence Rockefeller donated the land to New York in 1999 for use as a park. One of the early owners of the property was Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, who lived there from 1840 to 1848. Edwin Bartlett obtained the property and build Rockwood, an English Gothic castle of locally quarried stone. Bartlett sold the house to his business partner William Henry Aspinwall in 1860; Aspinwall made it his summer home and improved the property and house, and purchased enough land to make his estate 200 acres (81 ha). Upon his death in 1875, his son Lloyd Aspinwall lived there until 1886. William Rockefeller then purchased it for $150,000. Rockefeller expanded his property to about 1,000 acres (400 ha) and either renovated or rebuilt the castle. The resulting 204-room house measured 174 x 104 feet and was the second-largest private house in the U.S. at the time, only behind the Biltmore mansion in Asheville, North Carolina.[10] After sitting vacant for a time, the mansion was torn down in the 1940s.

In 1971 Representative Otis Pike proposed a bill to expropriate historic Gardiners Island, owned by the Gardiner family since 1639, to turn it into a Federal National Monument.[11] Robert David Lion Gardiner, one of the co-owners, complained that the proposal to expropriate his family's property was unfair, when the Rockefeller's had been allowed to continue to own the Pocantico Hills.

The land has been used as part of the park since the 1970s, when Laurence Rockefeller leased the estate to New York for use as a park.[10]

In popular culture edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Rockefeller State Park Preserve Designated a New York State Historic Place".
  2. ^ "Section O: Environmental Conservation and Recreation, Table O-9". 2014 New York State Statistical Yearbook (PDF). The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. 2014. p. 674. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  3. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. (February 23, 2007). "Spending a Day at the Rockefellers' - The New York Times". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ R. Chernow, "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller", Vintage Books, New York, 2004.
  6. ^ "Rockefeller State Park Preserve".
  7. ^ "New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation".
  8. ^ "The Rockefeller State Preserve and Stone Barns Carry On a Legacy of Giving Back". Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Irving, Washington. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Wikisource. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  10. ^ a b "Rockwood Hall in the Rockefeller State Park Preserve" (PDF). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  11. ^ Richard L. Madden (September 11, 1971). "Gardiner Fights Move To Make Island Public". The New York Times. Washington DC. p. A3. Retrieved September 18, 2020. I certainly feel that as long as the Rockefellers can have Pocantico Hills we lowly Gardiners in the fourth century of ownership should be allowed to have our estate.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links edit