Historical Timeline Listing

1917: John D. Rockefeller, Jr., begins to acquire the properties that form today’s Fort Tryon Park.
1927: John D. Rockefeller, Jr., engages Olmsted Brothers to design Fort Tryon Park.
1935: Construction of park completed. Columbus Day park opening attended by Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Rockefeller, Jr., and sons Laurence and Nelson.
1938: The Cloisters opens.
1950: Plantings begin to disregard the Olmsted Brothers design.
1970: Budget cuts during fiscal crisis drastically reduce maintenance of the park.
1983: Plans for a capital renovation. The Greenacre Foundation approaches NYC Parks with offer to restore the Heather Garden and funds a master plan for Fort Tryon Park.
1985: Under Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, park administrator Jane Schachat oversees the restoration of the Heather Garden landscape by NYC Parks gardeners. She builds upon its success and partners with the Friends of Fort Tryon to reclaim other areas of the park.
1988: The Greenacre Foundation continued to provide funding for the Heather Garden. Council Member Stan Michels directs city capital funds to advance the park’s revitalization, providing close to $10 million for upgrades by 2001.
1990: Through the 1990s, the garden is maintained by a staff whose numbers fluctuate widely.
1998: Manhattan Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Joseph Pierson, and Edie Kean initiate the Heather Garden Committee Endowment (today the Fort Tryon Park Trust) to begin a fund to ensure the ongoing care and preservation of the Heather Garden.
2006: The trust secures a grant that leads to the creation of the Winter Walk, featuring evergreens and other plants of winter interest.
2007: The trust secures a grant that initiates the restoration of the Alpine Garden and grotto on the Broadway side of the park, a catalyst for the Broadway initiative to revitalize the entire eastern side of the park.
2008: The trust secures a grant that enables drinking foundations and irrigation to be installed on the park’s Broadway side. One week before his death, the Stan Michels Promenade is dedicated, in recognition of Michels’ tireless commitment to the park’s revitalization.
2009: Public garden designers Lynden R. Miller and Ronda M. Brands are engaged to develop a plan, the Framework Plan, for enhancing and sustaining the Heather Garden.
2010: Fort Tryon Park’s 75th year. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg dedicates the Linden Terrace as the David Rockefeller Linden Terrace.
2012: The second phase of the Heather Garden framework plan is completed. 250 trees are damaged during Hurricane Sandy and much of the landscape of the park requires reconstruction. NYC Parks starts design on restoring the area around the Billings Arcade.
2014: The Heather Garden Framework Plan is completed.
2015: The pathways, landscape, and staircase just south of the Billings Arcade is restored. The Fort Tryon Park Trust begins the process of restoring the arcade itself.
2016: Plans are approved to begin renovation of the Jacob K. Javits Playground. The project cost is $3.1M and is funded by NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and the Fort Tryon Park Trust, which provided $350k to ensure the project’s advancement.

2017: The Grand Staircase connecting Broadway with The Met Cloisters is renovated with $1M in funding provided by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

2020: Jacob K. Javits Playground reopened with many new amenities for all ages to enjoy. The playground’s reconstruction was able to come to fruition because of a public-private partnership between the City of New York and the Fort Tryon Park Trust.

2021: Billings Arcade Reclamation Project completed, with ongoing needs to maintain the $125k investment the Fort Tryon Park Trust made to restore the 116-year-old structure and its surrounding landscapes with invasive plant removal and 1,200 new plantings.