Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.

Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.

Just off the path, in an area of Inwood Hill Park known as “The Clove,” are a series of rock formations that have fascinated geologists and hikers for generations.

Glacial pothole located just off the trail in Inwood Hill Park.

Glacial pothole located just off the trail in Inwood Hill Park.

These glacial potholes, which look almost man-made, are the product of glacial runoff that occurred during the last ice age some 50,000 years ago.  During a huge melting event “turbulent, rock-fortified swirling water making its way through crevasses reached the underlying bedrock and drilled the holes.”  (A Natural History of New York City’s Parks, Linnaean Society of New York, 2007)

New York Sun, 1931Inwood resident Patrick Coghlan first discovered the three holes, measuring between three and a half and eight feet in diameter in 1931.

Inwood Hill Park Map, Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.

Inwood Hill Park Map, Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.

1970 Inwood Hill hiker's map.

1970 Inwood Hill hiker’s map.

Princess Naomi poses beside glacial pothole. Source Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.

Princess Naomi poses beside glacial pothole. Source Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.

Inwood Hill Park glacial pothole.

Inwood Hill Park glacial pothole.

Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.

Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.

Fun Fact: The murder mystery “The Dragon Murder Case” by S.S. Van Dine takes place in a fictionalized version of Inwood Hill.  In the book the potholes were said to be the hiding place of murderous dragons.

The Dragon Murder Case ties place in a fictionalized Inwood Hill.

The Dragon Murder Case ties place in a fictionalized Inwood Hill.

Fictionalized map of Inwood Hill from The Dragon Murder Case.

Fictionalized map of Inwood Hill from The Dragon Murder Case

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The Fort George Hill Climb

by Cole Thompson

News of the Fort George Hill Climb, 1907, The Automobile.

The Fort George Hill Climb, 1907, The Automobile.

How fast can your car make the ascent of Fort George Hill?  The hill is 1,900 feet from base to crown, with a grade ranging from ten to thirteen per cent and averaging about eleven per cent.  It is paved with cobblestones and has two sweeping curves. “ (New York Herald, March 15, 1908)

The Fort George Hill Climb

On a Saturday morning in the summer of 1907 several thousand spectators, speed freaks and reporters gathered on Dyckman Street, near the foot of Fort George Hill, to witness a controversial race that would pit newly designed automobiles against one of the most grueling inclines in the metropolis.

The rules were simple.

Almost anyone could enter the race.

Professional roadsters competed alongside individual owners.

Modified automobiles were forbidden.

New York Times, July 14, 1907.

New York Times, July 14, 1907.

The only vehicles allowed in the contest were “stock” cars; meaning the vehicle hadn’t been altered in any way after leaving the showroom.

The event was essentially a public proving ground for a then fledgling automobile industry.

After the race a consumer could walk into any automobile dealership and know just how his intended purchase would perform when put to the test.

New York Times, July 21, 1907.

New York Times, July 21, 1907.

Over the course of the afternoon similarly priced vehicles would compete against one another.

But the most exciting event of the day was the free-for-all in which all makes and sizes competed against one another.

One by one each driver was given a flying start down Dyckman Street and timed as he screamed past the Dyckman Street subway station towards the finish line at the summit of the hill above.

The run was a race against the clock.

At the end of the day the contestants would gather inside a concert hall atop the great hill where course clerk Tom Hall would present the beautiful silver Automobile Topics Cup to the racer with the fastest time.

The event, organized by the Metropolitan Automobile Association, would be the first hill climb to be held in the city of New York

The spectators, who arrived by car, subway and trolley were said to number at least three thousand.

In all, twenty-seven cars would make it to the top of the hill that spring day more than a century ago.   Of these only five were foreign imports.

The Course

Dyckman Street at base of Fort George Hill in turn of the century postcard.

Dyckman Street at base of Fort George Hill in turn of the century postcard.

View from Dyckman Street towards Fort George Hill today.

View from Dyckman Street towards Fort George Hill today.

The Dyckman region, with the exception of the elevated subway, would be almost unrecognizable to anyone vising the district today.
[click to continue…]

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Inwood’s Indian Life Reservation

Thumbnail image for Inwood’s Indian Life Reservation

In the winter of 1926 Inwood historian and local archeologist Reginald Pelham Bolton began work on a curious and eclectic exercise, the creation of an Indian reservation in Inwood Hill Park.   Bolton’s vision was not to be a true reservation, but rather a recreation of what a Native American encampment might have looked like. “The […]

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Gangsters on the Dyckman Strip: 1931 Shootout Makes National Headlines

1931 Dyckman Street shootout

“The final battle in which the bandits were killed was in front of 146 Dyckman Street.  Here the bandits were overtaken in a taxicab driven by William Nugent and occupied by Patrolman Albert Walker of the Thirtieth Precinct, Patrolman Albert Morrell of Traffic Squad H and Detective William Kiley.   The two patrolmen and the detective, […]

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Inwood Hill Park Concession Stand: A Reader Contribution

Inwood concession stand 1977

Recently, MyInwood.net reader Frank Yannaco wrote in to tell me about the concession stand his family once owned and operated inside the Isham Street entrance to Inwood Hill Park. We soon began a dialogue that included a promise of photos and descriptions of his life in Inwood.  True to his word, Frank soon emailed me […]

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Inwood Postcards

Inwood Postcards

New York City has always been a popular subject when it comes to the world of postcards. I like to call the collection that follows “Postcards from the Edge.” For the most part, I’ve tried to focus on Inwood proper, but other subjects, like the George Washington Bridge, Edgar Allan Poe’s cottage in the Bronx, […]

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Prehistoric Inwood: Mastodons in Our Midst

Inwood New York City Mastodon

In warm weather the Dyckman Strip is a lively scene replete with music, the clink of cocktail glasses, laughter and animated conversation.  As brunch winds down, the crowd migrates west to the marina, on the banks of the Hudson River, to marvel at the view—a nearly unblemished vista that has changed little since Henry Hudson […]

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Miramar Saltwater Pool

Miramar Saltwater Pool, Inwood, New York City, thumbnail

“They played music, too. If you went under, you couldn’t hear it, and when you surfaced, there it was! Walking home (I lived on Post) I remember that heavy, exhausted feeling, and also feeling like I was still in the water. We were lucky to have had such a fun place to enjoy the summer.” […]

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