Skip to content
History page 25

Our Mission & History

Exploring Human Connections to Nature

Wave Hill Mission

Since its founding as a public garden in 1965, Wave Hill has evolved as a unique urban oasis, world-class garden and vital resource. Its mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access for All

Wave Hill strives to achieve a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and access for everyone. We look to the natural world in all its diversity to inform our practices. Biodiversity and ecological connections strengthen natural systems. In the same way, acknowledging and supporting the diverse breadth of human experiences strengthens our community and improves the overall garden experience for everyone.

As you learn about the history of Wave Hill introduced below, please note that the story told here is ongoing and evolving. It is provided "as is," and does not represent a complete history of Wave Hill.


The Story of a Beautiful Site

Visitors to Wave Hill are immediately struck by its spectacular setting. Situated on a high ridge above the Hudson River estuary, 28 acres of gardens, grounds and woodlands offer sweeping panoramas of the majestic Palisades and a stunning setting for connecting to nature.

Wave Hill is rich with geological, ecological and social history. The very rocks beneath us are over a billion years old, and the spectacular view across the Hudson River to the Palisades formed 10,000 years ago. The rocky, wooded landscape that existed then has been restored in our Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland, while Wave Hill’s greenhouses and gardens celebrate a global diversity of plant life and the multicultural nature of the Bronx today.

Cliffs engraving

From prehistory through the 18th century

Wave Hill's history has been shaped first by the dramatic cliffs of the Palisades, and then, in complex stages, by the presence of humans.

Learn more
Appleton children

The 19th Century and the Perkins Legacy

As the population of New York City exploded in the 19th century, many wealthy New Yorkers began looking for homes beyond the city limits, in neighborhoods like Riverdale.

Learn more
History morrisera WHH page 7

Historic Estate Homes

Wave Hill's two historic homes are as central to the character of Wave Hill as its gardens, offering evidence of the rich interaction of humans with this site in modern times.

Learn more