The Riverside Oval Association is commemorating John James Audubon’s 225th Birthday on Saturday, April 24th 2010 at 4PM in the Riverside Oval (156th Street at Riverside Drive), a few steps from the site of the naturalist’s final home in northern Manhattan.
Everyone is welcome to join members and friends of the Oval Association for cake, beverages, and a hearty chorus of “Happy Birthday” to Audubon: admission is free.
In May 1842, Audubon moved his family to a fourteen-acre farm in northern Manhattan, a large triangular plot resting on present-day 155th Street, stretching from Amsterdam Avenue to the Hudson River, and including the land surrounding the Riverside Oval, the site of one of the Audubon barns. 765 Riverside Drive, adjacent to the Oval marks the site of Audubon’s house (pictured at left).
Audubon called his farm Minnie’s Land, but after his death, his sons and wife renamed it Audubon Park, selling large portions of their land to wealthy New Yorkers who inhabited villas under the forest trees, laying out their gardens and drives where Audubon once had enclosures for both wild and domesticated animals. Audubon Park was a name familiar to New Yorkers from the mid 1850s until about 1910 when developers, capitalizing on the newly-opened subway with a stop at 157th Street, purchased large portions of the land and erected the magnificent Beaux Arts apartment houses that exist in the area today. In 2009, Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the blocks between 156th and 158th Streets west of Broadway the Audubon Park Historic District.
The Riverside Oval Association, a not-for-profit neighborhood organization, plants and maintains green spaces in the Audubon Park Historic District, presents musical events, and sponsors oral history evenings at neighborhood buildings. Audubon’s 225th Birthday Celebration will kick off the 2010 gardening season and give residents in the neighborhood an opportunity to meet Oval Association members and become involved in the Association’s activities.
In the event of rain, the celebration will take place in the community room at the Grinnell, 800 Riverside Drive.