Stewart Park History

History of Stewart Park

Stewart Park History

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Friends of Stewart Park

Tour Information

Stewart Park, Ithaca's beloved public park located at the southern end of Cayuga Lake, offers a multitude of outdoor recreation and leisure opportunities set alongside an exquisite lake vista. Once a location of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ people’s village of Neodakheat, the area opened as privately-owned Renwick Park in the 1890s. On July 4, 1921, the park became Stewart Park, the City of Ithaca’s first public park, re-named for Mayor Edwin C Stewart, who generously supported the park with enthusiasm and money, but died a month before its opening.

Step onto the Cayuga Waterfront Trail to encounter the park's story, an interesting history tracing its many lives, from precolonial days, to a cinematic spotlight on the silent film industry, to current revitalization efforts by the Friends of Stewart Park.

Friends of Stewart Park acknowledges that Stewart Park and the Cayuga Waterfront Trail are located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ Nation, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Stewart Park, Ithaca, New York state, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Welcome to Stewart Park! The current main entrance to Stewart Park was created in the 1960s after the construction of Route 13. Around half a million visitors come through this entrance every year. Since 2011, Friends of Stewart Park has be... Read more
The trailhead to your left is one of six on the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. Completed in 2010, the Trail has had a transformative effect on Stewart Park, bringing more and more visitors to enjoy the park’s lakefront promenade before continui... Read more
One of three park buildings designed by architects Clinton L. Vivian and Arthur Gibb, apprentices to prominent Ithaca architect William Henry Miller, the Picnic Pavilion was constructed around 1895 as part of an Italianate-inspired archite... Read more
Although the area to your left, between the historic Picnic Pavilion and Wharton Studio buildings, now serves as a parking lot, a century ago it was home to an elegant bandstand --  a gathering space for the community to enjoy live music. ... Read more
This building, by Clinton L. Vivian and Arthur Gibb, was originally designed as a dance pavilion. Over the years, it also housed a vaudeville stage and served as a movie theater. Nowadays it hosts the City of Ithaca Department of Transport... Read more
Designed by Clinton L. Vivian and  Arthur Gibb and originally built in 1895, the Tea Pavilion once served as the welcoming point for visitors to the park, and was the last stop on the popular trolley ride to Renwick Park from downtown. Ove... Read more
The Cayuga Bird Club has a history of protecting and creating bird habitat in Stewart Park. In 1927, the Club funded the construction of the Fuertes Bird Sanctuary, a pond encircled by shrubs and trees, found in the northwestern corner of t... Read more
The Cascadilla Boathouse was completed in 1896 as an athletic facility for the Cascadilla School, a prep school for future Cornell students. Now home to the Cascadilla Boat Club, this elegan boathouse, designed by Clinton L. Vivian and Ar... Read more
Across the Fall Creek inlet, you can see Ithaca’s public 9-hole Newman Municipal Golf Course. The golf course is technically included in Stewart Park’s 177 acres. Constructed by Community Workers of America in 1935, this par 36 course m... Read more
Following news of the decision by the Board of Public Works in 1913 to clear up land adjacent to Fall Creek, the Cayuga Bird Club began efforts to preserve the area and its wildlife. Around May of 1914, the land was declared a city preserve... Read more
As child focused recreation grew popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a spray play ”splash pad”  area and playground were installed southwest of the main park buildings. The highlight of this new play area was the carousel, insta... Read more
The Memorial Flagpole Garden was dedicated in 1927 in honor and recognition of Mayor Edwin Stewart’s efforts to create Ithaca’s first public lakefront park. Renwick Park was renamed Stewart Park for Mayor Stewart, who led the charge to ... Read more


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