Then & Now

West Point cadets and the sex-and-drug ’60s; IBM, Luckey Platt, and ice harvesters; airports, bridges, and those famous ferries. Join us for a look back at the last 100 years of Valley history


(page 14 of 20)

swimmers relax at Bear Mountain's poolPhotographs courtesy of PIPC Archives

Pleasure Park

Then: In one of the state’s earliest efforts at open-space conservation, Bear Mountain State Park was established in 1913 when a group of concerned (and wealthy) New Yorkers — alarmed by plans to relocate Sing Sing Prison to the mountain — purchased the land and donated funds for the park’s creation. Right from the start, the park was (and still is) a favorite spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Camping at Hessian Lake was especially popular among the region’s Boy Scout troops; by the 1930s, swimmers were crowding the site’s pool to get relief from the summer heat (at left). City residents — over 22,000 within the first year — reached the park by taking a steamboat up the Hudson. Winter sports facilities, such as the outdoor skating rink and ski jump, came along in the ’20s. And the first completed section of the Appalachian Trail opened at Bear Mountain in October 1923.

Bear Mountain carousel ride

Now: Installed in 2001, Bear Mountain’s carousel is anything but a run-of-the-mill park ride. Each of the 36 moving figures depicts an animal found in the Valley — there’s a red fox, a river otter, even a skunk. The facade shows historical scenes of the area, including Stony Point Battlefield, the Palisades cliffs, and even the park’s own Bear Mountain Inn (which, after undergoing an extensive restoration, should reopen to the public during the summer of 2009).

Next: Luckey, Platt & Company


Click on any image below to view more historic photos from 'round the Valley


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