Field Trip: Wave Hill

Wave Hill trellisFirst Governors Island, and now the Bronx: Who knows where we’ll go next?

I visited Wave Hill about 20 years ago, when I was still in that phase where you think you need to explore every nook of the city. It didn’t make much of an impression, but then I was in my early 20s, when pretty views and nice landscaping tend not to be top of mind. Plus, my friends and I walked from the subway on a hot day, which was a grind.

Wave Hill runs shuttles from the subway and from Metro-North, I learned from the website, but Adam had just joined Zipcar and was dying to try it. So we picked up our car, named Jeanine and smelling like she’d been driven hard the night before, at a garage on Worth Street. We arrived at Wave Hill around 11 a.m., arriving just in time to avoid the overflow lot (which is free but involves a shuttle).

From the website: “Wave Hill is a 28-acre public garden and cultural center in the Bronx overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. Its mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.” What Wave Hill really does is foster intense envy—to have the stone house, with its incredible location! Chief among the pleasures of visiting is walking the grounds, imagining that you’re lord of the manor. That said, the house is nice but not grand in the Newport manner, and there’s no furniture, so your imagination gets quite the workout. And while I believe there is a garden (we kind of missed it), the landscaping is more park than garden. I don’t mean to diminish the place at all. It’s a relief, in may ways, not to have to always be looking at something in particular; instead you can enjoy it in general. There may be no lovelier place in New York City to sit and read.

We were drawn by a photography exhibit: Gregory Crewdson’s “Fireflies” series, which we’d only seen in a book. They’re exquisite pictures, especially for anyone who loves fireflies. (I’ve been enraptured by them since I saw my first one at age 25.) Knowing Crewdson tends to work big, we didn’t realize the actual images are the same size as the ones in our book. Still, there were a lot of images to admire, and I grabbed a promotional postcard to put over my computer. The other exhibit, Kristyna and Marek Milde’s “Hills and Valleys of the Sofa Wilderness,” involves a sofa and chair made to resemble the woodland floor.

We enjoyed a coffee on the café’s terrace, but Adam wasn’t feeling the café food—run by Great Performances, with an oddly limited menu on weekends (isn’t that when more people go?)—so we drove back south and ate at Co. in Chelsea. If I were to return to Wave Hill, I’d probably take a picnic. You’re not allowed to eat just anywhere—there’s a designated area with tables—but that’s OK; I’d rather sit at a table anyway. And I’d make sure to visit the shop: We only checked in at the start, and then we forgot to go back, which is too bad because it looked like it had worthy gifts.

You should probably go soon. Electronics company LG is about to ruin Wave Hill—and the Palisades in general—by building a 143-foot office tower across the river. As we wandered around, the specter of it loomed over the entire experience. What are they thinking? I will never buy an LG product.

Wave Hill main houseWave Hill riverWave Hill pompom treeWave Hill cafe tablesWave Hill bridgeWave Hill gift shopWave Hill garden seatWave Hill ivyWave Hill greenhousePrevious Field Trip posts:
Governors Island
F.D.R. Four Freedoms Park
Litchfield County, Conn.
One Wall Street
Behind the Scenes at Grand Central Terminal
The Howard/Crosby Microneighborhood
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
East River Ferry
Museum of American Finance

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1 Comment

  1. Re: LG – glad you pointed out that unconscionable move on their part! Hopefully it gets stopped.
    Perhaps the Rockefeller trust might deign to build a giant hill in front of it? ;)