I was up before dawn this morning. I awoke early and noticed an interesting sky out the window. I decided to take Jack for a walk. Rather than walk around our neighbourhood, I decided to take him near the George Washington Bridge where Dan and I explored a few months ago (see June 26 post — Park Closes At Dusk). Dan snoozed on.
Our timing couldn’t have been better. No sooner had we arrived and the sun started to rise directly across the river above Manhattan. Stood on the cliff top soaking in the rising sun with Jack by my side was a perfect way to start the day.
As the vibrant orange colours started to fade Jack and I set about exploring the area — beyond where Dan and I were before. The path we took led to a sign displaying a few destination options.
A 0.8 mile walk to Allison Park was most appealing, as I had not heard of this park before. I was not sure exactly what we would find.
On our whole walk we encountered only three other people, but we were continually aware that we were not alone. Birds and other wildlife were continually rustling in adjacent trees and undergrowth.
As we accessed Allison Park through damaged railings, the environment changed.
We were in a park with pathways and benches.
The solidly constructed stone service buildings pointed to a bygone era.
Jack and I had the place to ourselves. After a stroll around I realised the park gates were locked.
I felt a bit like Dickon encountering “The Secret Garden” for the first time. The park has a great view of the river and Manhattan beyond the bridge.
Curious to know more about the park’s namesake, I looked William Outis Allison up on the internet when I returned home. I was fascinated to read that his was a ‘rags to riches’ story. He was born into a fishing family that resided at the water’s edge, and at age 11 became the ward of a wealthy family that lived on top of the cliff. He went on to amass a fortune through various business ventures including a grand hotel on the Palisades that burned down in 1884.
The park was constructed by a trust set up by Allison to “…carry out his expressed purpose to please almighty God and benefit his fellow men…”
The part of Allison’s story I enjoyed reading the most appeared in The Druggists Circular following his death in 1924: “He never ceased to have a passionate fondness for the Palisades, with their rocks and trees, many of which he knew as individuals, and their birds and wild animals, for which he always entertained a brotherly feeling.”
It was a treat for me to discover Allison’s park today. I think he would be pleased to know that birds and wildlife are still in abundance in this area, and that one fellow man (and dog) benefitted from his bequest today.
I want to bring Dan to Allison Park and share my discovery with him. Maybe dusk is a more likely time to make that happen.
You can read more of Allison’s rags to riches story by clicking the following link:
live. enjoy. repeat.