Bronx, New York


Vault Hill. It has an elevation of over a hundred feet above the parade ground. From here there is an extended view of the park on every side. On its summit is the cemetery from which it has obtained its name. Within the walled enclosure are the vaults in which repose the remains of several members of the historic family who are still in occupation of the property and from whose keeping it will pass, before the close of another year, into the possession of the city with all the land now and hereafter to be known as Van Cortlandt Park . . . 54

The ruse de guerre by which in 1781 Washington deceived the British lying at Kingsbridge while he withdrew his army to Yorktown, was planned and successfully carried out within the park. On the summit an along the slopes of Vault Hill he lighted illusive camp fires and ostentatiously displayed the few remaining troops, while the great body of his forces were on the march to join Lafayette at Yorktown that ended the war. 54

At the close of the war, Washington revisited this place in 1783 and made his headquarters in the Van Cortlandt mansion. He stayed three days while awaiting the evacuation of New York by the
British troops. 54

In the late 1870s, John Mullaly had been thinking about the need to increase park space in New York City. In June of 1881 he directed his attention to the question of public parks. 107

Met Mr. Joseph S. Wood offered his services in the work. Called for meeting at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. 200 invitations. Formed the New York Park Association. November 26, 1881

Bell, Isaac (founder NYPA)
Carnochan, J. M. M.D. (founder NYPA)
Cauldwell, William (founder NYPA)
Claflin, H. B. (founder NYPA)
Conner, W. E. (founder NYPA)
Crary, Charles (founder NYPA)
Develin, John E. (founder NYPA)
Dows, David (founder NYPA)
Edson, Franklin (founder NYPA)
Filley, S. R. (founder NYPA)
Fitch, John (founder NYPA)
Graaf, H. P. De (founder NYPA)
Hoguet, Henry L. (founder NYPA)
Hutchins, Waldo (president)
Jerome, Leonard (founder NYPA)
Marsh, L. R. (Vice president)
May, Lewis (founder NYPA)
McLean, George W. (founder NYPA)
Morris, Lewis G. (founder NYPA)
Mott, Jordan L. (founder NYPA)
Mullaly, John (secretary)
Niles, W. W. (Treasurer)
Schell, Agustus (founder NYPA)
Schwab, Gustav (founder NYPA)
Shaler, Major-General (founder NYPA)
Stephens, Charles J. (founder NYPA)
Tiffany, Charles L (founder NYPA)
Viele, Egbert L. (founder NYPA)
Wood, Joseph F. (founder NYPA)

He collected a lot of statistics and then communicated with the public through the columns of the New York Herald.

The movement to start the parks in the Bronx was initiated in 1881. Six new parks and three parkways. Passed by the Legislature of 1884. Legislation signed by the governor in June 14, 1884.

A few hundred yards to the east of the enclosed tract is a sylvan lake covering an extent of fifty acres, which can be enlarged to eighty, and which is supplied by the ever-flowing Mosholu and natural springs. 47

1888-90 --  purchase of lands for Van Cortlandt, Claremont, Crotona, Bronx, St. Mary’s, and Pelham Bay Parks as well as the Mosholu, Pelham, and Crotona Parkways. Suddenly, the city’s parkland had increased fivefold.

Then there is also the ancient mill -- over a century old -- which stands at the southern extremity of the lake, nestling in the deep shadow of towering elms, and which will long be a favorite resort of the lovers of the picturesque, for the retired nook in which it stands is one of the most beautiful in the whole range of the park. 54

The waters of the lake flow a mile down to Spuyten Duyvil.

The Croton Aqueduct passes directly through the park from north to sound. 60

John Mullaly. 1887. The new parks beyond the Harlem. New York City: Record & Guide.