Van Cortlandt Park Master Plan

The Need for the Master Plan

Van Cortlandt Park aerial shot with master plan overlay
Van Cortlandt Park will be the City's healthiest and most scenic forest and brook ecosystem.

When Frederick Law Olmsted mapped the streets of the Bronx in 1876, he proposed that New York City buy the Van Cortlandt family estate because he believed the property was already as beautiful as Central Park. New York City purchased the land and constructed the nation’s first municipal golf course but made no comprehensive plan for the park. Then, from the 1930s to the 1950s, the construction of three major highways fragmented the park and constricted community access to its hills, forests, fields and wetlands.

This comprehensive Master Plan will knit the park back together and restore the natural beauty identified by Olmsted. It proposes recreational opportunities for all neighboring communities. The Master Plan charts a clear course of action that will coordinate efforts over the next twenty years between agencies, nonprofit partners, elected officials and community groups to complete privately and publicly funded projects and programs in Van Cortlandt Park.

Working Together to Improve Van Cortlandt Park

NYC Parks Planning & Parklands and the Van Cortlandt Park Administrator’s office spent a year and a half learning community concerns and wishes, conducting research and site visits. Our planning team closely inspected the built and natural park, the location and proximity of recreational spaces to neighboring communities and investigated concerns identified in more than 25 public meetings. We are happy to present a plan that we believe reflects community priorities, develops solutions to Van Cortlandt Park's environmental and social challenges and enhances the park's natural assets.

What Is In the Plan?

The Master Plan contains many features, including:

  • New York City’s healthiest forest and brook ecosystem with scenic trails and paths
  • A healthy and attractive Tibbetts brook that flows to the Harlem river
  • Enhanced landscape beauty and historic countryside appearance
  • Safe bicycle routes that connect the Putnam and East coast greenways
  • A scenic path around the entire park for strolling or jogging
  • Paths that make it easy and fun to cross the park
  • Pedestrian bridges that knit the park together
  • A shady and attractive park perimeter that encourages walking.
  • A premiere cross country trail system
  • Playgrounds, ball fields and courts
  • Covered active recreation areas for afterschool activities
  • Skating rink and cafe
  • Skate park
  • A small amphitheater
  • A comfort station and cafe for the Parade Ground

Working Together To Make It Happen

Community Boards 7 and 8 approved the plan you see here.  It includes the edits they requested, as well as detailed project descriptions and budgets. To advance the park restoration, it is important for every community board to prioritize projects from this plan in their budget and elected official budget requests every year.

If you have questions or would like to help implement the plan, please email the Van Cortlandt Park Administrator’s office at

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