What was once the entrance to a grand mansion is now a hidden gem in Fort Tryon Park: the Billings Arcade, an arched passage with a remarkable past.
Wandering through the park's lush pathways to find these stunning remains is a great way to spend a summer day–and take some memorable pictures.
The arcade was once part of Tryon Hall, a mansion built by wealthy horseman Cornelius K.G. Billings to be close to the racetrack (today’s Harlem River Drive). Construction on the $2 million estate began in 1901 and was completed in 1907.
In 1917, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. bought the property, but the life of Tryon Hall was short-lived: it burned down in 1925. Soon after, Rockefeller incorporated the land into what would become Fort Tryon Park. Today, the portico–as well as the entrance to the driveway and a nearby gatehouse–are almost all that's left of the Billings Mansion.
To explore the arcade yourself, take the A train to 190 Street Station and exit toward Fort Tryon Park. At Corbin Circle, enter through the Stan Michels Promenade. Take the left path and continue toward the Billings Lawn. The arches sit underneath.
Two paths lead from the lawn. The first takes you down two sets of narrow stairs (pictured, above right). The path on the left serves as a second route with fewer stairs. The Billings Arcade is at the bottom of the second staircase, parallel to the West Side Highway.
Don't want to take the steep stairs back to the top? Follow the path through the arches, which will lead you back to the top of the lawn.
All photos: Morgan Mackey