Over a century old, the Wave Hill estate of Riverdale is one of New York City’s most beautiful parks. The property was first developed by William Lewis Morris, who named the estate Wave Hill. The Morris family resided at Wave Hill from 1843 to 1852. In 1865, the famous publisher William H. Appleton purchased the estate and used it as a summer residence until 1903. During Appleton’s time as proprietor, tenants included such figures as Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. In 1903 Appleton sold the property to George W. Perkins (1862-1920) a wealthy conservationist who would become politically active in the expansion of area parks.
Perkins earned his reputation as an avid conservationist during the development of the Palisades Parkway, which threatened to turn the scenic Palisades into a highway. Perkins’s demands delayed the construction of a major road through the Palisades. He founded a group called the Palisades Interstate Parkway to ensure that despite the construction of a major highway, the Palisades would remain surrounded by vegetation and nature. Perkins was a strong advocate for the Bull Moose Party’s Teddy Roosevelt, who ran on a platform of progressive reform that included women’s suffrage and child labor laws in 1912. Perkins rallied conservationists behind Roosevelt, who lost despite registering more votes than any third party candidate in United States history.
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