Riverside Oval: It’s My Park Day in Audubon Park, New York

The Riverside Oval, officially named the Charles and Murray Gordon Memorial Park, captures the attention of everyone who passes through the Audubon Park Historic District. Beneath its towering plane trees – reminders of the elms, oaks, and pines that once covered the hillside above Audubon’s house – a variety of plants brighten the neighborhood year-round, particularly from late spring to early fall.

Over the last few years, the Oval has been looking better and better, and that’s not just by chance.  Rather, this beautiful garden spot that graces Audubon Park is the result of diligent and continued activity by the Riverside Oval Association, a volunteer group that depends on the neighborhood for funding and volunteers.

Want to help?

It’s My Park Day
Saturday, May 15   9.30am – 1pm
Gloves, plants, and tools are provided, the only thing to add is YOU.
For more information:
contact Vivian Ducat at vsd2001@columbia.edu or (917) 301-1120.  

The oval park in the center of Riverside Drive dates back to 1911 when the city finally opened the extended Riverside Drive north of Grant’s Tomb. Under construction for more than a decade, the new road became part of a continuous drive from 72nd Street where Riverside Drive begins, around the top of the island, down the east side along the Harlem River Drive, then back through Central Park to 59th Street. Combined with the newly-opened subway and a boom in apartment building along Broadway and the numbered streets branching from it, Riverside Drive spelled the end of Audubon Park.  The “Riverside Oval” at the foot of 156th Street remains as a reminder of the bucolic landscape of earlier years.

 The Oval in about 1920.
Image Courtesy of:
Milstein Division of United States History, 
Local History & Genealogy, 
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

May 1938: Ceremony in the Oval for the ending of “Cuba Week.”
For a glimpse of the Oval in about 1979, watch this YouTube clip of
 Look fast: at the 25 second mark you’ll see it.

The Oval in April, 2010.