Untermyer Park: Located in
North-west Yonkers, is a beautiful site, full of
interesting architecture and expansive flower
It was once the site of a private
estate owned by the Untermyer family. The
original mansion has become part of St.
Johns Riverside Hospital. The grounds of
the mansion are now included in the park. The
park affords a spectacular view of the Jersey
Popular local legend has it that
various sites on the property were used in occult
rituals. Regardless, the locale is quite spooky
on a moonlit night. The park closes at dusk, so
youll have to take my word for that! As
teenagers, wed often drive up from the
Bronx to hang out, play hide and seek and do
other things that teenagers do when relieved of
parental observation. It was these nocturnal
shenanigans that inspired the author to use
Untermyer Park as the location for the climactic
scene of LOW END As you can see, the park is
quite Goth in Black&White! Please click here to read about
BIG HILL Shelter in Bear Mountain State Park and
our other teenage adventures!
is beautiful in a rather Goth and somber vein.
Even in daylight hours, one can almost sense that
warm, breathing people are distinctly out of
place. The photo to the left was taken from
between the two large twin obelisks standing in
the Northern end of the enclosed park area. (See
photo right, below) That space between the trees
in the center of the photo is the main portal
leading to the main entrance to the entire
The famous 'Thousand Stairs' are located
to the right of the photographer in the above
picture. Viewed from about three quarters of the
way from the bottom, one can see the top of the
stairs and the colonnade. It was from this
approach that O'Brien tried to get the drop on
Morrissey in LOW END.
Flower beds were repaired and replanted
by 1988. These beds were overgrown and their
borders unclear in 1975. The photo below right
shows a clear view of the colonnade Gary hid on.
early Fall of 1974, Mike, a friend of mine from
the old neighborhood in the Bronx, turned us all
on to Untermyer Park. His brother Pete, about
four years older than us, had found the
place, while cruising around on his Triumph
Bonneville. So Mike took Paul, Mark and I up
there on a cool Friday night to hang
out, check the place over, and pass the doobie.
If I recall correctly, it was a moonlit night. At
that time, Yonkers was undergoing fiscal woes and
nothing had been spent to either maintain or
protect the park. Weeds choked the old flower
beds and locals had pried large portions of the
mosaic tiles from the decorative pools and
pathways. I took pictures of the statuary on a
later visit with my little 110 pocket camera--in
the dark. I don't think I ever saw the place in
daylight until the 1980's.
Mike, Mark, Paul and I often went there when
there was nothing else better to do than hang out
and play hide and seek or just plain try to spook
each other out. The place was creepy in the dark!
Eventually we heard all the urban myths about
witchcraft, satanic rituals and the like. More
than likely, the only virgins sacrificed were
dispatched by the traditional methods and more or
the remainder of 1974 and into the late Spring of
1975, we'd often be found in Untermyer Park after
sundown partying and horsing around. After we'd
all turned eighteen, we eschewed the Park in
favor of the bar.
returned to Untermyer in 1988 to photograph the
haunts of my youth. To my amazement, the place
had been spruced up, although some of the
statuary and mosaics had been vandalized past the
point of restoration. I compare photos taken in
1988 with those I took in 1975 and see much
black and white photos you see here were taken
with my Nikon with a Tamron wide angle lens and a
tripod, lens open wide and a long shutter during
a full moon in 1988. The place is just so cool at
night, I couldn't resist the (slight) civil
disobedience of using the park after dusk! Color
shots were taken in the Summer of 1988 and March
of 1992. The park is best approached from the
Route 9 side. Walk the path to the large wall
that surrounds the gardens. Once through the
archway, you face a long, narrow pool that X's the interior
walled area. The leg you're looking at extends
back to a semi-circular wall fronted by two
columns topped by statuary. There are two small
niches in this semi-circular wall that lead the
explorer to the fence separating the hospital
grounds from the park. It used to be quite a
tingler on a fall night. The other branch of the
pool directs one's eye to arguably the most
notable structure, a circular columned gazebo
that overlooks a reflective pool that must have
been a fountain once. The
mosaics that line the pool mimic waves and
contain renditions of various sea creatures.
Standing along the railing on this gazebo affords
a spectacular view of the Hudson River and the
Jersey Palisades. An interesting side-trip is to
descend the "1000 Steps" which is in
actuality only 127 in number. Still, it's a good
Sanders writes in Fortean Times "I AM THE
SON OF SAM!" (FT 161, August 2002) As you
clear the trees after an uphill climb in New
Yorks Untermyer Park, you cannot fail to
notice what appears to be a rather
bizarre-looking rock formation. Closer
examination reveals iron handrails and other
signs of human handiwork. Locals have always
referred to the large structure more than
40ft (12.2m) high at its west face as the
It was erected about 75 years ago as a cascading
fountain, and the gazebo at its summit offers a
fine view of the Hudson River and the New Jersey
park was once the estate of multi-millionaire
Samuel Untermyer, who had large stones from Great
Britain incorporated into the fountain he built
for his daughters wedding. There is reason
to believe that the wealthy lawyer had an
interest in arcane spiritual beliefs, and the
design of the Eagles Nest suggests a
deliberate attempt to imitate megalithic sites of
Wiltshire. After Untermyers death in 1940,
his sprawling estate was donated to the
municipality of Yonkers, just north of New York
City. At the north end of the park lay the
classical gardens with their impressive mix of
Greek-style architecture and Assyrian-style
statuary. The gardens give way to the so-called
Thousand Steps leading down to other scenic
viewpoints. Not far from the foot of the steps,
in a densely overgrown area behind nearby St
Johns Hospital, there once stood a large
pump-house. For reasons never made public, it was
knocked down about 15 years ago, and not even a
trace of its foundation can be seen today.
Yonkers in the mid-Seventies was much the same as
it is today. Running like a thread through the
district is the Old Croton Trailway State Park.
The 22miles (35km) path, known locally as the
Aqueduct, parallels the course of the
Hudson River and was built over a water tunnel
that once served Manhattan Island to the south.
The secluded Aqueduct also offers discreet
access, especially at night, to any number of
places, including Untermyer Park and the nearby
Lenoir Nature Preserve.
years later, the satanic activity that used to
occur in this area has become urban legend. The
characteristics of Untermyer Park in particular
made it a perfect location for such things; even
today, fully half the grounds are densely wooded.
Furthermore, several locations there, including
the Eagles Nest (above) and the so-called
temple, are still tagged with
occult/satanic graffiti, much of it recently
applied. Population shifts over the last three
decades have resulted in a large Hispanic
presence in the area. An individual familiar with
the neighbourhood today assured me that evidence
of santeria ritual fowl sacrifices are occasionally
found in woods adjacent to the Aqueduct.
employees of nearby St Johns Hospital can
still recall nights when chanting and torch
flames were seen and heard in the depths of the
woods, especially from the area of the
now-demolished Devils Cave. There are those
who maintain that harmless teenagers were the
only ones frequenting the backwoods at night
during the Seventies, but that belief flies in
the face of some disturbing facts. Over Christmas
1976, dead Alsatian dogs, with their ears
carefully excised, were found on the Aqueduct
just south of Untermyer Park. In November 1979, a
Westchester County Police Officer stumbled upon a
sinister night-time gathering in the Lenoir
Nature Preserve: a group of robed and hooded
figures carrying torches and leading two leashed
events were reported elsewhere in the region at
the time. In the upstate town of Walden, New
York, 85 Alsatians were found skinned between
October 1976 and October 1977. Across the
state-line, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, an
employee at a local radio station told me of
druid-like gatherings, at night, in the woods
surrounding Candlewood Lake, near Danbury.
from an article chronicling the Son of Sam
murders of 1976-1977 on the Fortean Times
website. This is a great website for reading
information on strange occurrences. Please visit
thanks to J.V. Sanders for emailing me the
pictures shown here of the Eagle's Nest!
possess no photos of the park in winter. Pity --
it is extraordinarily scenic at any time of year.
The Untermyer Family is interred at
Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Woodlawn is
well-known for its clientele--only the wealthiest
and most blue-blooded of New York are buried
memorial acres occupies a huge chunk of one of the 1930's-1940's
sections of the cemetery. The architecture is strongly
reminiscent of the estate on Route 9 in Yonkers. If you visit
the estate, visit the cemetery, you will see what I mean.
structure is once again ringed by stone walls with towers or
turrets containing statuary and protected by working wrought
iron doors. The center of the site is occupied by a large urn.
As you can see in the photo, the ground is paved with
cobblestone-like bricks, the grass has grown between the pavers,
making it seem like a grassy area at first.
The turrets are pictured here. The doors are sometimes open,
sometimes closed, I guess it depends on who has been to the site
and has messed with them.
I do not know what the statuary is intended to represent-- it
would seem to be Christian in content, but the imagery is
obscure --though it is highly impressive, just about life size.
TOUR WOODLAWN CEMETERY by clicking here!
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