Columbia University’s New Park Offers Fresh Opportunities


Columbia University and the city’s parks department have unveiled Muscota Marsh, a park built on an acre of land along the Harlem River and designed by the lead firm behind the High Line.

A baby harbor seal (Photo: Mark Dodge)

The James Corner Field Operations-designed park, near the university’s Baker Field, features a meandering wooden boardwalk, gravel paths and wooden benches, forming what the New York Times described as a juxtaposition between a saltwater marsh and a freshwater wetland.

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The park, located at the corner of Indian Road and West 218th Street, will be used for educational purposes — a type of “outdoor laboratory” for students. It will also offer kayak and canoe access from a floating dock in front of a university building used to store racing shells, positioned along a river stretch where harbor seals are sometimes spotted in the winter.

The park features newly-planted spartina grass, switchgrass and sedges that will attract aquatic organisms, dragonflies and insects but also wading birds like snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons.

Columbia agreed to create the park as part of the deal to build its new Campbell Sports Center. The university has also agreed to provide maintenance and security at the park and the Parks Department will hold an official opening ceremony in the spring. 

The park takes its name from the word Muscota of the Lenape Native Americans, meaning “place in the reeds.”