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Indian Caves at Inwood Hill Park

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Rock formation used by American Indians

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Inwood
Parks and Gardens, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

The hills and bluffs at the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson rivers, where the Bronx curls around the tip of Manhattan, form a magical place where quarter-mile-high glaciers seem to have moved with the grace of a sculptor’s hand. This is Inwood Hill Park, where you will find ancient “Indian caves.” In pre-Colombian times, these hillside caves were hidden deep beneath the naturally formed rocky outcroppings; today, they’re cool, secluded niches. For centuries, members of the Wiechquaesgeck tribe used them as a summer camp where they could harvest shellfish, eels and fish from the nearby river. (The caves were close to the water at the time, before the landfill projects of the WPA.)

In 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson to Albany, he encountered the Wiechquaesgecks (a branch of the Lenape tribe, headquartered at Dobbs Ferry, and belonging to the Mohegan group of the Algonquin nation). According to some accounts, two tribesmen were taken captive but jumped overboard;

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Nominations

Dodie Dohoney (Cooper Union)

The Indian Caves at Inwood Hill Park around the corner from the soccer field clustered a few steps straight up the east face of the hill, visible to all who pass by. They weren't used year-round by New York's indigenous people, but were more like a summer camp, a place to harvest the abundance of shellfish, fish and eels available in the waters nearby. Go on a sweltering summer's day to suck up the cool air that gets thrown out from the caves. It feels like instant air conditioning...free too! It's a place that transports you to a time, a people and way of life far removed from ours.



Louis Manoliades

When I was seven (1935) I knew there were Native Americans living at the Spuyten Duyvil (Inwood Hill Park). I used to watch Indian kids spear the fish. One time, I stole a chicken when they were having a festival for themselves. I was very hungry and poor we never had a chicken--so I grabbed the chicken from the spit and ran into a cave into the woods. When I finished eating and came out of the cave, the Indian boy and his buddy were on top of the cave waiting for me to come out. They hit me with a large rock and I still have the scar. We were so poor, my mother would go picking out garbage to help the family. We did not swim in the river, it was too dangerous and there were lots of drownings.


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