The current frigid temperatures might make January an odd time to debut a park, but Inwood's newly opened Muscota Marsh sets itself apart for plenty of reasons. More Highline than Central, the new space offers city-bound residents the chance to engage with nature more diverse than the daily parade of rats and bed bugs that compose the fetid fabric of city life. Muscota is the Lenape tribe's word for "place in the reeds," which Manhattan used to be, before the arrival of the Dutch and the soot and the string of Dean & DeLuca's and their $55 Iberian Cheese Plates.
Here's a florid description from the Parks Department:
At this public green space, with a design inspired by tidal flats and mudways, you can enjoy the educational richness of the marsh from the wildlife observation deck, or venture out on to a wooden deck stretching out to the waterway through the native water gardens. There are places to sit and host picnics across the river from the towering cliffs of the Spuyten Duyvil and the Palisades, which blush under the Manhattan sunset, especially in autumn.
Because of the close proximity of the salt marsh and the freshwater wetlands, you’ll be able to spot beautiful wading birds like the great blue heron and the snowy egret. You can also see leopard frogs... among the dramatic colors and textures of the marsh’s native plants. Not only is this area growing in biodiversity, but the restored salt marsh and wetlands also treat storm water runoff before it enters the tidal system, improving the quality of water emptying into the river.
Forged in a deal between Parks and Columbia University, who built the park as part of the agreement for erecting the $30 million Campbell Sports Center, Muscota Marsh offers visitors 40,000-square-feet of winding paths, scenic overlooks and, for those equipped with such things, kayak and canoe access. The wetlands will also provide an excellent home for organisms like dragonflies and insects, which will then attract birds like snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons, which will then attract budding scientists from nearby schools, who can collect data from the park and document its evolution.
Muscota Marsh is located at the corner of Indian Road and West 218th Street.