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Inwood Community Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Isham Park

By DNAinfo Staff on October 1, 2012 11:34am

By Jon Reznick and Carla Zanoni

Special to DNAinfo.com New York

INWOOD — Uptown history buffs and park lovers gathered over the weekend to mark the 100th anniversary of the neighborhood's beloved Isham Park.

"We're here because of one woman and that is Julia Isham Taylor," Pat Courtney, a Friends of Isham Park member and volunteer, said of the woman who gifted her family's estate to the City of New York in 1912.

"At [the 1912 celebration] Manhattan Borough President George McAneny called this a 'breathing space of exceptional beauty' and it remains that for us today."

Parks Department Manhattan Commisisoner William Castro also thanked the Isham family for its gift that has provided the community with a green respite.

"It's so important to a city like New York where we are so cramped together," he said. "We really need that space and we need to reconnect with nature. We are very very fortunate that they had the wisdom to give this beautiful area to us, and that they wanted it preserved for the public's enjoyment."

Locals celebrated the park, which they call a centerpiece of the neighborhood, and  noted its rebound from years of neglect during the 1970s and 1980s. 

JA Reynolds, a caretaker of Isham Park and creator of Bruce's Garden, a community garden that sits on the site of the park, said the park today is the result of many years of hard work.

"This has been going on for 45 years and a lot of volunteers and a lot of different groups are involved in taking care of the park," he said, referring to a host of community members, Volunteers for Isham Park, Isham Park Restoration Corporation, the Inwood Rotary, Partnerships for Parks and more.

For Inwood parent Susan Ryan and her son Dylan, who live down the street from the park, the day's festivities, which included a small parade, historical information and cake, the event was a chance to celebrate home.

"It's a really beautiful place to gather as a family, it's just a real jewel of the community and we are very fortunate," Ryan said.