McGowan’s Pass served as a site of military defense both during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Here, Kingsbridge Road, which once served as the main road through Manhattan, dipped into a valley peppered with rocks. The road itself, as well as the hilly topography, made this an important strategic site for the British during the Revolutionary War. Decades later, Americans built fortifications here during the War of 1812. Fearing a British attack from the north, they guarded McGowan’s Pass with a stone gatehouse anchored to the rock outcrops, which controlled access to the main road.
When Central Park was built, designers left the remnants of McGowan’s Pass as a testament to the site’s historical importance. The pass gets its name from the McGowan family, who ran a popular local pub in this area in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Things you can do here
Step into history and see how this area near the Harlem Meer played a key role during the American Revolution and War of 1812.