How to find the highest point in Manhattan (and what brought George Washington there)

If your idea of fun is climbing to the highest point in any given area—and you still haven't been to the one in Manhattan—here's your next field trip: Bennett Park.

Directly outside the Fort Washington Avenue exit of the 181 Street station on the A line, this well-tended park in Hudson Heights is home to the highest natural spot on the island, measuring 265.05 feet above sea level. (The park itself is named after a newspaper publisher and editor who bought the land in the 19th century.)

There's even a small plaque marking the exact geographic location—it's toward the west side of the park in the middle of an outcropping of Manhattan schist, the near-mythical gray stone that supports the city's skyscrapers.

Need a reason to visit the park on this Presidents' Day? Here also once stood Fort Washington, built by the American Army in the summer of 1776. General George Washington chose it for its strategic position, hoping to control the boat traffic on the Hudson River.

A View of the Attack against Fort Washington by Thomas Davies

Although the Americans were defeated here during the Battle of Fort Washington in November of 1776 (they didn't take it back until the end of the war), the fort and its history have been memorialized on a plaque near the east entrance to the park.

In one of the park's coolest details, you can follow the outlines of the former fort, imagining what it might have looked like all those years ago. In the center a replica of a British cannon adds to the atmosphere.

It's really a twofer: come to Bennett Park for the geographical adventure, stay for the amazing American history.

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