Tarrytown to Hastings-on-Hudson (4 miles) and Hastings to Yonkers (4.6 miles)
Stopping point from the last section (Rockefeller State Park to Tarrytown)
Tarrytown to Hastings:
Full disclosure — this post is a bit of a cheat, because we ran the Tarrytown to Hastings section way back in May 2018, but I never got around to posting about it specifically. So I’m combining both sections here.
The first section, Tarrytown to Hastings, is chock full of history, so sit back, relax and enjoy the trip!
Starting in Tarrytown, we started about a block down the street (Rt. 119) from where we ended the last time. Parking at the Doubletree Hotel, just off Broadway, we followed the sidewalk south across the Thruway ramp and easily saw the OCA signage to our right. (I’d say you can’t miss it, but that’s always a dicey thing to promise.) Almost right away, the first sight you see is financier Jay Gould’s Gothic Revival mansion, Lyndhurst. It’s really quite fun to run across the expansive lawn with the mansion in the background – you feel rather like a trespasser. (Check out the Lyndhurst site here.)
Next up is Washington Irving’s home, “Sunnyside,” – you won’t actually pass by it close enough to see it, but know that it’s nearby and look out for Rip Van Winkle!
After crossing two streets, you’ll see a carousel-like octagonal structure – the Armour-Stiner (Octagon) House:
Built in 1860, it is apparently the only octagonal, domed, colonnaded private home that looks rather like a Roman temple ever built. The theory went that octagonal homes offered more light, air and space. Guess not. But do check out this website that gives a far more detailed history of the house, and shares delightful stories that involve a Finnish explorer, a female pirate, a poet and a ghost.
Next up is Villa Lewaro, Madam CJ Walker’s estate. Read my blog post here for more on that story.
Just a half-mile or so further on is the Nevis Estate, now owned by Columbia University and home to the Columbia-Nevis laboratories. There’s a solid brick mansion with white columns on the right side of the trail that was built by Colonel James Hamilton III, son of Alexander Hamilton, in 1835. (Nevis, of course, was the Caribbean island where Hamilton père was born. For more information, please download Hamilton the musical.)
Mercy College is next, and a good spot to find water and a bathroom.
Finally, about a mile south from Mercy, at 15 Walnut Street, Dobbs Ferry, is the Aqueduct Keeper’s house. Headquarters for the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park and an historic site in its own right, it’s an interesting stop. Check out their website here for hours and exhibits.
Another ¼ mile or so gets you to Villard Avenue where we stopped and turned around many months ago.
Fast forward to a clear, slightly humid Saturday morning in September 2018 when we parked on Villard Avenue and headed south to Yonkers before turning back to our car.
The Aqueduct heads down through residential areas, crossing streets every thousand feet or so.
You’re treated to some lovely views along the way, both down the streets to the river:
and through the trees across the river to the Palisades:
The first really exciting place (to me) is the Untermeyer Gardens Conservancy:
View from the Aqueduct just past dawn . . .
The country home of Samuel Untermyer from 1899 – 1940, the recently (and impeccably!) restored park features impressive gardens, sculptures and outbuildings. The main park entry is on North Broadway, but you can get in through this gate adjacent to the Aqueduct. (Definitely going back here to browse through the gardens!) Samuel Untermyer, BTW, was a famous corporate lawyer, the first one, in fact, to earn a fee of one million dollars on a single case! He became an aggressive trustbuster in his prime, which makes me like him all the more.
The trail is lined with elegant old houses:
But the way is mostly cool, shaded and soft grassy trails:
Here’s another weir, a structure built directly over the aqueduct that functioned as little dams to allow the flowing water to be diverted, slowed or sped up. This one, like the others, was probably built in the 1880s and was closed in 1965 when the aqueduct was decommissioned. (Yes, folks, NYC no longer gets its water through an early 19th century brick tunnel.) Unlike the Ossining Weir which you can visit, this one is sealed up tight, no chance of getting inside and looking around. (In case you were curious.)
Another couple of interesting sites you’ll pass, but that are easy to miss from the Aqueduct, is the back side of the Lenoir Preserve, , a nature center created by combining Lenoir and Ardenwold, two golden age estates. A little further south is Alder Manor, the former country estate of William Boyce Thompson, a tycoon who made his fortune in mines and money. Built by the famed architectural firm of Carrere & Hastings, the Thompson family lived there until the 1950s, when their property was inherited by the Archdiocese of New York and became the Mary Elizabeth Seton High School. Declared a National Historic Site in 1982, much of the land has been subdivided and developed and today the mansion is owned by the Tara Circle. It’s apparently in dire need of repair, so in order to raise funds, the mansion is rented out for events and movie shoots. According to Wikipedia, “Mona Lisa Smile” and “A Beautiful Mind” were shot here.
One last place of interest is an old stone building that stretches for about a hundred feet along the Aqueduct somewhere around either the Lenoir Preserve or Alder Manor.
I clambered over poison ivy to take this shot through one of the shattered, but still barred, windows. Looks like an old stable to me — what do you think?
In Yonkers, the Aqueduct gets a bit difficult to follow as development has cut it into piecemeal bits. But here we are at the intersection of North Broadway and Ashburton. We plan to start here next time and run all the way down to the city.