NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A major gift that helped to restore and preserve Rockland County’s natural beauty is being honored Friday night.
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports
The Empire State Building will be lit in green to mark the 100th anniversary of the Harriman gift of the land that became Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park.
From the top of Bear Mountain, the surrounding peaks gently undulate on the horizon.
The fall foliage is a patchwork quilt of color – fiery red, pumpkin orange, and canary yellow.
A century ago, the vista was not so breathtaking, but Edward Henry Harriman helped to change that.
“Being a chairman, a railroad tycoon in the 19th century, he bought tens of thousands of acres – former quarry sites or they had logged it off the make charcoal to feed the furnaces,” the Palisades Interstate Park Commission’s Tim Englert told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “There was iron mines all throughout here. This was like a wasteland.”
After Harriman’s death, his wife Mary Averell donated 10,000 acres and $1 million. Nearly two million trees were planted: pine, oak, spruce, and hemlock.
Today Harriman and Bear Mountain comprise 50,000 acres.
Continued generosity is needed to keep the camping programs alive.