Alpine Garden Restoration Funding, DNAinfo 2011

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The Parks Department will soon move forward with a plan to restore the 150-foot stretch of rocky cliffs in Fort Tryon Park that arch from Broadway to the upper level of the green space where the Cloisters Museum sits.

The $140,000 landscape restoration will improve access to the staircases and grotto, a man-made cave at the eastern end of the park. Much of the stairways have fallen into disrepair in recent years, making it difficult to hike from the valley along Broadway to the heights of Fort Tryon Park near the museum.

“We are excited to restore this amazing piece of Fort Tryon Park,” said northern Manhattan parks administrator Jennifer Hoppa. “It will make many happy to see the changes, especially the tourists who realize how far they have to climb when they get out of the Dyckman Station on their way to the Cloisters.”

Community Board 12’s Parks and Cultural Affairs committee voted to recommend that the full board pass a resolution in support of the work during a meeting last week. The board will vote on the measure at its general meeting on Tues., Nov. 22.

Another project to restore a staircase that provides access from Broadway into the heart of the park was funded by Borough President Scott Stringer’s office in 2009. That project’s timeline is yet to be determined.

Known as the Alpine Garden, the eastern expanse of the land is one of the original Olmsted Brothers’ design features in Fort Tryon Park. The landscape design firm was made up of John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son’s of Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who designed Central Park with Calvert Vaux. The duo converted land John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s had acquired from multiple estate owners and made them into Fort Tryon Park in 1935.

According to the Parks Department, the garden’s decorative rocks, including walls, boulders and stone borders, were meant to “compliment the outcroppings of metamorphic Manhattan schist, containing easily seen minerals such as quartz, feldspar and mica, while garnet is found at scattered places.”

Some of the stone used came from rock excavated when making the park and the nearby subway.

A full-blown restoration of the park by the Fort Tryon Park Trust and Parks department began five years ago as part of an “effort to revitalize the Broadway side of the park,” according to the Parks Department website.

The Parks Department hopes to complete this phase of the restoration by the end of 2012.

See our Events Calendar for tours along the Alpine Garden and Heather Garden led by the park’s horticulture staff, for those interested in learning more about the history and landscape of this historic park.