Day 111

Standing atop the ruins

April 19th, 2012

The southern end of Fort Tryon Park, where this overlook is located, was once the estate of Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, a wealthy industrialist who moved to New York from Chicago in 1901 after retiring as head of the Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company at the age of 40. Never one to suffer the restraints of modesty, Billings once famously had the grand ballroom of Louis Sherry's restaurant decked out as a woodland scene, complete with a layer of sod on the floor, and threw a lavish party wherein 36 formally attired guests dined on horseback (photo), sipping chilled champagne from their saddlebags while being served by personal attendants dressed as grooms. (The horses were brought up to the ballroom by freight elevator.)

I didn't realize it at the time, but I when I took this photo (looking out over the Henry Hudson Parkway, the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, and the New Jersey Palisades), I was perched on top of a massive vaulted stone gallery through which, and over which, a 1600-foot winding driveway (which still exists as a pedestrian path) once passed on its way up the ridge to Billings's opulent mansion. The mansion burned down in 1926, but the gallery remains, one of a few vestiges of the luxurious lifestyle that once flourished on these grounds. (This bird's-eye view shows where the gallery is situated in the park today.)


  1. Gigi says:

    Love the arches, hopefully I’ll be able to visit one of these days. Thanks for the bird’s-eye view, too, that was cool!

  2. Sandra Shirey says:

    Is that the Billings for whom Billings, Montana, is named?

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