James Renner

 For over three-quarters of a century there has been an easily overlooked civilized 
amenity existing in Washington Heights. This tiny park with a 22-terraced garden, has a long staircase that is split into three sections with benches on each landing.  It is located on Pinehurst Avenue between 181st Street and 183rd Streets. The terrace was created in 1924 because Pinehurst Avenue stops dead 75 feet north and 25 feet above 181st Street.

 The terrace has a lovely urban gesture which is oriented entirely to the needs of the pedestrian.  The function of the design was two-fold; as a secluded gathering place and a passageway.  It is one of the few street stairways that serve Washington Heights and Inwood. 

 Other examples of street stairways are located at 187th Street and Fort Washington Avenue heading east to Overlook Terrace.  A second is at 215th Street and  Broadway heading east to Park Terrace East.   Another is abandoned and is located at Haven Avenue between 172nd and 173rd Streets.  It heads down to the West Side Highway.

 The gardens are presently cared for by the West 181st Street Beautification Project and is a part of the Parks Department's Green Thumb Program.  The Terraces received the 1987 Dress Up Your Neighborhood Contest Award.

 The West 181 Beautification Project was organized in 1986 to fix and clean up the terrace.  Since then the group has been involved with other community projects.  These are; creating a toddler's playground and garden at 180th and Cabrini Boulevard, new trees planted and pruned along 181st Street, the removal of graffiti from store front gates and the addition of new litter baskets.

 The Project was instrumental in the renovation of Fort Washington Park especially under the George Washington Bridge where the Little Red Lighthouse is located.   The Lighthouse Festival which is held annually in the fall is co-sponsored by the Project and the 

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
In the Spring of 2002 the Terraces were renovated with new stairs and new drainage.  The gardens will also be renovated too.  For more information on the Pinehurst Avenue Terraces and the West 181st Street Beautification Project call (212) 946-1703.


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