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Taking a stroll in New York's 'Garden of Eden'

Indah Nuria Savitri
Indah Nuria Savitri

Blogger, First Secretary at Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations

New York  /  Tue, April 5, 2016  /  09:51 am
Taking a stroll in New York's 'Garden of Eden'

Untermyer Park and Gardens was lovingly developed by Samuel Untermyers together with his wife Minnie Untermyer. (untermyergardens.org/Jessica Norman)

When hearing the words 'Garden of Eden', what immediately crosses one’s mind is probably the depiction found in the holy books: an enchanted garden with lines of lush green trees and flowers bursting with colors, breathtaking views and peaceful ambiance, with the presence of some distinct creatures.
 
That vivid image is probably what inspired Samuel Untermyers, a successful lawyer-turned-businessman, to create Untermyer Park and Gardens.
 
Beautifully situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the park is a hidden gem. Open to the public for free, it immediately steals the hearts of garden lovers. It is a dazzling place to visit when you are around New York City.
 
Untermyer Park and Gardens was lovingly developed by Untermyers, who, together with his wife Minnie Untermyer, tried to adapt the concept of a heavenly garden adorned with quadrants of waterways. Originally known as Greystone, their passions and green thumbs turned the estate into one of the “most celebrated gardens in America”; the record shows that no less than 30,000 people visited the place in one day back in 1939.
 
The brilliant design of Welles Bosworth added the touch of beaux art to the 60.7-hectare piece of land, which resulted in an exotic mix of Indo-Persian and ancient Greek designs and a curated choice of plants.

(Photo: Indah Nuria)

The park consists of six different areas. One of the most visited, dubbed the Walled Garden, is situated within a special wall adorned with shady trees and rows of beautiful flowers at the edge of a pool. On its left side, a roofless Temple of the Sky dominated the area with its Corinthian columns and replica antique Greek mosaics as its floor.
 
As we look further, a lower terrace will lead us to a large reflecting pool, also decorated with antique mosaics that are unfortunately in a rather shabby condition now.

(Photo: Indah Nuria)

Another interesting part of the Walled Garden is its open-air amphitheater. One can hardly miss two sphinxes on top of the marble columns with the amphitheater right in front of them, said to be inspired by the legendary Lion Gate of Mycenae in ancient Greece. Mosaic tiles, including its floor, again ornament the distinct architecture of the amphitheater – I instantly imagine a performance mimicking the lives of Greek gods and goddesses enacted here.

(Photo: Indah Nuria)

Right next to the amphitheater, heading down toward the Hudson River, prepare to be greeted by a breathtaking view perfectly framed by the descending stairs and Japanese cedars appropriately called The Vista, said to be modeled on the well-known Villa D'Este originally found in Lake Como, Milan. Down at its base, we will find the Overlook with its two columns.

(Photo: Indah Nuria)

Meanwhile, the Temple of Love features a classic wrought iron dome over an elegant round four-columned gazebo that immediately gives you a romantic ambiance. Looking up at it from below, you will see an astonishing form of rocks topped with the round temple, complete with bridges, a rocky tunnel, a pool and a seating area overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades.

During its golden time, the Temple of Love was beautifully adorned with plants and flowers. Further work and restorations are now underway as the current organization responsible for the conservation of the park plans to return the spot to its glory.
 
There are a few areas that remained unvisited in this vast park as some are undergoing restoration and are closed to the public. Perhaps, when spring comes, we have to return for another leisure walk in this Garden of Eden on Earth.

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Indah Nuria is mama for Bo&Obi. Breast cancer survivor who loves traveling. Indah works as First Secretary at Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations and lives in New York. Catch her story at indahnuria.com, @indahnuria (Twitter), and @insav (Instagram).

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.