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Van Cortlandt Park is a park located in the Bronxmarker in New York Citymarker. It is the fourth largest park in New York Citymarker, behind Pelham Bay Parkmarker, Flushing Meadows Parkmarker and Staten Island Greenbeltmarker.

The park was named for Stephanus Van Cortlandt, who was the first native-born mayor of New York, and the Van Cortlandt family, which was prominent in the area during the Dutch and English colonial periods. Contained within the Park is the Van Cortlandt House Museummarker, the oldest building in the Bronx. The park is operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

The eastern side of the park is served by the Woodlawn marker subway station, and the western side by Van Cortlandt Park–242nd Street marker.


The land that Van Cortlandt Park now occupies was purchased by Jacobus Van Cortlandt from John Barrett around 1691. Passed on to his son Frederick Van Cortlandt (1699–1749) and family, it was once a vast grain plantation. In 1748,Frederick built what is now known as the Van Cortlandt Housemarker on the property, but died before its completion. Frederick willed the massive home and surrounding lands to his son, James Van Cortlandt (1727–1787).

The Van Cortlandt family land was used during the Revolutionary War by Rochambeau, Lafayette, and Washington. It was in this area that the Stockbridge militia was destroyed by the Queen's Rangers; a stone memorial was placed at "Indian Field" in 1906.

In 1888, the family property was sold to the City of New Yorkmarker and made into a public parkland, with the majority of the grain fields converted into a sprawling lawn dubbed "The Parade Ground". The Van Cortlandt House was converted into a public museum and, with the city's approval, particularly overgrown areas of the property were made passable. Wide walking paths were built over original walkways, including the thin paths that led to the Van Cortlandt family cemetery, high on the nearby bluffs.

In 1907, due to overcrowding, Dr. William Hornaday transferred several of the Bronx Zoo's then-rare bison to Van Cortlandt Park's parade grounds. Later that year, they were shipped to prairie land in Oklahoma.

Robert Moses's development plans in the 1930s called for the construction of the Henry Hudson Parkway and Mosholu Parkway to bisect Van Cortlandt Park and meet at a cloverleaf interchange about half a mile north of the center. The last remaining freshwater marsh in New York Statemarker was dredged and landscaped to accommodate construction.

The Van Cortlandt House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1976.,

The city's fiscal crisis in the 1970s caused much of the park to fall into disrepair. Gradual improvements began taking place from the late 1980s through the mid-2000s, including the addition of new pathways, signage, and security.

Van Cortlandt Park was referenced in Jose Rivera's play Marisol as a place where neo-nazis burn homeless people alive in the apocalyptic world of the play.


The Van Cortlandt Golf Course, the nation's first public golf course, opened in 1895 and is located on the park grounds. The "Parade Ground" north of the museum is one of New York's principal cricket fields. The Putnam Trail, an unpaved trail, runs north through the woods to the east of this lawn and west of Van Cortlandt Lake along Tibbets Brook and the former New York and Putnam Railroad line into Yonkersmarker where it connects to Westchester County's paved South County Trailway. Another runs east from the golf course's clubhouse to connect to the Mosholu Parkway bike path. The Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway begins in Van Cortlandt Park.


Van Cortlandt Park is a popular site for cross country running owing to its miles of cinder trails and hills. The path surrounding the Parade Grounds, known to runners as the "flats," is 1.37 miles (2.2 km) around. The infamous "back hills" provide a 1.3-mile (2.1 km) loop in the northwestern section of the park.

The park was used for the Northeast regional championships of the Foot Locker Cross-Country Championships until 2009 and is used as numerous college championships each fall. The famed 2.5-mile (4 km) course is used for most high school races, including the Manhattan College Invitational, one of the largest high school cross-country meets in the nation. In 2006, the USA Cross-Country Championships were held at Van Cortlandt.


The park is home to the Manhattan Collegemarker Jaspers college baseball team.


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