Marcus Garvey Park, Manhattan(History)

Marcus Garvey Park (formerly and also named Mount Morris Park) is located in Harlem in the New York City borough ofManhattan. The 20.17-acre (81,600 m2) park, centered on a massive and steep outcropping of schist and surrounded by flat lawns and playing fields, interrupts the flow of Fifth Avenue traffic, which is routed around the park via Mount Morris Park West. The park is bounded by 120th Street and 124th Street and by Madison Avenue on its east side. The park is operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

 

HISTORY

Before the arrival of Europeans, the rocky hill was used by Native Americans as a lookout station to see over the entire island. During theAmerican Revolutionary War, Hessian soldiers “mounted a battery on [the hill],” “to command the mouth of the Harlem River.”  When Fifth Avenue was extended north of Central Park as the railroads made Upper Manhattan more accessible, the rocky hill proved a difficult obstacle to clear and was set aside for public use in 1836 and officially opened in 1840. Music has been played in the park since its beginnings, with the Parks Department promoting performances in 1872 and 1893. By 1900 a refreshment booth had been built at the 120th Street and Madison Avenue entrance to the park. A long vehicular tunnel to send Fifth Avenue through the center of the rock was proposed by Manhattan Borough President Samuel Levy and approved by Robert Moses in 1936. It was never built.

In the summer of 1969 the park was the site of the Harlem Cultural Festival, a series of concerts that came to be known as “Black Woodstock.”