Van Cortlandt Park

The current park is part of a large parcel acquired by the Dutch West India Company from the Wiechquaskeck tribe in 1639. It was owned by Adrian Van der Donck, New Amsterdam’s first lawyer, then purchased in 1670 by Frederick Philipse, New York’s wealthiest man. Philipse’s son-in-law, Jacobus Van Cortlandt, mayor of New York City in 1710-11 and 1719-20, purchased a part of the estate–the present park–in 1699. At that time, Tibett’s Brook was dammed to power two mills, forming the Van Cortlandt Lake, which still exists. The Van Cortlandts operated the mills and a grain plantation here. In 1778, British soldiers killed 37 patriot Stockbridge Indians in an ambush at the northeast end of the property. "Indian Field" marks their burial ground. After 140 years, the Van Cortlandts sold the property to the City in 1889. To transform it into a park, the City filled in swamps, planted trees and added recreational facilities, including the country’s first municipal golf course in 1895.