Riverside Drive

Extension: F. Stuart Williamson 1911
Viaduct: 1928

Frederick Law Olmsted designed Riverside Drive as a thoroughfare and linear park stretching along the West Side from 72nd Street on the Hudson River to a terminus at the Manhattan Valley near 125th Street. Its undulating curves created a picturesque setting that prompted the speculative development of luxury housing. Soon after completion, plans were put forward to bridge the valley and extend Riverside Drive to the old Boulevard Lafayette at 158th Street. This proposal was met with resistance by Trinity Church, which refused to cede land from its cemetery for the roadway’s construction. A compromise sent Riverside Drive on a snaking diagonal that cut across Audubon Park, leaving the remaining villas in its shadow and inspiring the speculative construction of apartment houses along its route. Completed in 1911, the extension was quickly derided by drivers for its three sharp curves. In response, a more direct viaduct along the river between 155th and 161st Streets was constructed in 1928, leaving the John James Audubon house surrounded by elevated roadways.