Westchester’s Hidden Gem: Untermyer Park and Gardens

Westchester’s Hidden Gem: Untermyer Park and Gardens

My family and I recently went to Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers, NY at the suggestion of my husband, an architect. How I have not visited this spectacular outdoor space just 20 minutes away from my home in Westchester, and just north of the city, I’m not sure. But for anyone living in or visiting the New York area, I strongly urge you to pay a visit, and soon! (and actually, I should’t say pay, as it’s free). It is one of the most exquisite gardens you will ever see.

About Untermyer Park and Gardens

Known as “Eden on the Hudson”, this Persian-Indo garden was designed and based on the Garden of Eden; and, upon entering, indeed it’s like walking into paradise and going back in time. A City of Yonkers public park, it was once the home of Samuel Untermyer, a prominent corporate lawyer (as well as leader of the anti-Nazi movement), who in 1899 purchased the estate, named Greystone, from Samuel Tilden, former Governor of New York. Untermyer expanded the land to over 150 acres, with the intention of building the “finest garden in the world”, set atop and sloping down the Hudson River.

Walking into the entrance of Untermyer Park and Gardens.

Water fountains and flowers in Untermyer Park and Gardens.

View of pool and fountain at Undermyer park and Gardens in Westchester New York.

And that he did. Hiring Beaux-Arts architect William Wells Bosworth, of Rockefeller fame, to design the gardens, he created what the press in the 1920’s called “America’s Most Spectacular Garden”. Maintained by 60 gardeners and supplied by 60 greenhouses, it was a great personal triumph for Untermyer, a horticulturalist himself, and he opened the gardens to the public for all to see in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

When Untermyer passed away in 1940, the gardens went into ruins as they were very expensive to maintain. Today the City of Yonkers owns 43 acres, and although much is still in ruins, the core is still intact. The Untermyer Gardens Conservancy was established to restore the gardens, along with the help of the Founding Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill in the Bronx. For those of you familiar with Wave Hill, I should say they are in good hands!

Beautiful lilly pond at Untermyer Park and Gardens in Westchester New York.

Taking a break at the exquisite Untermyer Park and Gardens.

Roman style architecture at Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers New York.

The Design of the Gardens

As for the lay-out of the gardens, they are composed of seven sections: the Walled Garden, The Vista, the Color Gardens, the Vista Overlook, the Woodland Trail, the Temple of Love and the Rock Garden. Together they form what the Conservancy calls “a garden for the world”, drawing inspiration from Persia, India, Spain, Italy and Greece.

The Walled Garden, based on the Garden of Eden, has criss-crossing canals, which symbolize the four ancient rivers; the crenellated walls are characteristic of Persian and Indian traditions; there is an amphitheater with Italian influences; and there also stands a phenomenal large Grecian temple atop what used to be a swimming pool.

The Vista, as it is called, is a doorway in the northern part of the Walled Garden, and when you walk through it you come upon a magnificent stairway leading down to the Hudson. It is an amazing sight, one that was modeled after a Renaissance garden on Lake Como in Italy. At the bottom of the stairs you come to the Vista Overlook, containing two monolithic ancient Roman columns.

The Temple of Love and Rock Gardens are equally as impressive, with their waterfalls and rock formations. Walking through the entire park is like walking into another world, a time machine taking you back to the former glory of what this garden and estate used to look like. It’s simply amazing.

View of the Hudson River through a doorway at Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers New York.

Walking down the grand staircase to the Hudson River at Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers New York.

Overlooking the Hudson River at Untermyer Park and Gardens.

How did the kids hold up? The gardens are a great place of adventure and wandering around for families. They do not, however, have food or beverages, so if you are going when it is sunny and hot out, make sure to go prepared. We were not prepared on the water front, and my girls were very thirsty the entire time. But besides that they had a ball, as it was like one big ancient playground. Pack a picnic and stay a while.

Untermyer Park and Gardens, 945 North Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701. 914.613.4502 Admission: Free  Hours: 7:00 a.m. – Sunset every day. Walled Garden Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – Sunset. Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – Sunset. Closed on Major Holidays from November to March.

Enjoy this post and want to save it or share with others? PIN IT!

Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers New York is a fascinating and beautiful place and a window into another era.

city-tripping-linky-badge

Follow:

27 Comments

  1. July 28, 2016 / 6:21 pm

    This is an inspiring write up and your photos do show the magical qualities. This goes to my bucket list.

  2. July 29, 2016 / 1:15 am

    What a BEAUTIFUL garden! Love all of the detail and background in your post, and the tips on bringing food and water for the littles. We always have a ton of snacks for our toddler, but I admit I am horrible when it comes to bringing enough water for all of us.

    • July 30, 2016 / 2:21 am

      Thanks Melissa – we really screwed up with the water – 90 degrees and we forgot our water jug. Ouch!

  3. July 29, 2016 / 6:29 am

    Beautifully designed. You can see the thought, attention to detail and investment in these gardens. Love the way so many features lead your eye to the water.

    • July 30, 2016 / 2:23 am

      I know! Anything set on water I love..

  4. July 29, 2016 / 6:36 am

    They are amazingly beautiful, Corey! What a find! Can I share this on Monday? I love ‘finding’ a great post like this of somewhere less known. 🙂

  5. July 29, 2016 / 1:07 pm

    Just stunning and your photos are amazing! How wonderful that it was restored again too.

    • July 30, 2016 / 2:26 am

      Thanks Joy – I was happy with my photos, but I always say it’s not hard to take photos of a beautiful place..

  6. July 29, 2016 / 7:04 pm

    This looks like a lovely place to visit – your photos show the gardens off beautifully. I just went to their website to see how difficult it would be to get there from NYC without a car, and it looks very doable. Once the weather gets a bit cooler, I think I will have to come check the gardens out!

    • July 30, 2016 / 2:28 am

      Yes I would imagine this would be right up your alley! It’s totally worth the trip out of the city and like you said shouldn’t be too hard to get to.

  7. mymeenalife
    August 3, 2016 / 6:35 am

    How beautiful! I love the how there are so many different landscapes and views. And it’s free! Thanks for sharing. #citytripping

    • August 4, 2016 / 11:25 am

      Thank you! Free is always a bonus ESP when it’s as beautiful as this!

  8. August 3, 2016 / 9:51 pm

    What a fabulous place – like stepping into a completely different world, so far away from its surroundings. Looking at your photos there are shots which could have come from Moorish Spain and others which look like they’ve stepped straight from ancient history. I had never come across this before but it sounds magical. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • August 4, 2016 / 11:28 am

      Thanks! It really is magical and yes there are many different international influences and time periods. Can’t believe it was my first time considering it’s so close – always new discoveries no matter where!

  9. August 4, 2016 / 7:30 am

    I love exploring gardens and this is just gorgeous!!! Not hard to understand why your architect husband wanted to go there. #CityTripping

    • August 4, 2016 / 11:29 am

      Yes I’m surprised he didn’t mention it earlier. Thanks for reading!

  10. August 4, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Wow! This is an incredible space! It looks like it’s on a far bigger scale to anything we have in the UK with the Roman columns and everything! Great photos and descriptions. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  11. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    August 5, 2016 / 8:46 am

    What a find, and only 20 minutes from your home – isn’t that always the way!
    Beautiful gardens and excellent photos to really show it off. Stunning.
    #citytripping

    • August 7, 2016 / 4:29 pm

      Thanks so much Trish! Thanks for reading!

  12. Anu
    July 1, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    Beautiful. I wonder if they allow pets. Now that we have a dog, that question is always on my mind.

    • July 4, 2017 / 7:02 am

      I hear you – we may be in the same boat soon!

Leave a Reply