Imagine That!
Fun facts about Sugar Hill’s height

Imagine That! 
Fun facts about Sugar Hill's height

Image of Manhattan with portions of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey. Sugar Hill (circled) is depicted here in 1609, the year Henry Hudson sailed into New York Harbor.  Photo: Markley Boyer / The Mannahatta Project / Wildlife Conservation Society

Image of Manhattan with portions of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey. Sugar Hill (circled) is depicted here in 1609, the year Henry Hudson sailed into New York Harbor.  Photo: Markley Boyer / The Mannahatta Project / Wildlife Conservation Society

They don’t call it Sugar Hill for nothing. According to this article in the NY Times, of all the places in Manhattan with “hill” in their name, Sugar Hill is the fourth tallest at 108 feet, making it the tallest point within Harlem. We chatted with Dr. Eric W. Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and discovered a few more interesting facts about Sugar Hill’s height that will have you saying, ‘Imagine that!’

 Image of Manhattan Schist.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

 Image of Manhattan Schist.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Sugar Hill’s height formation has to do with one particular rock

“There are three kinds of rocks that underlie Manhattan: Manhattan Schist, Fordham Gneiss and Inwood Marble. Underneath the lower part of Harlem is Inwood Marble, which is softer rock, and the harder more resistant rock is the Manhattan Schist. This rock is over a billion years old and this is the rock that forms Sugar Hill’s natural height.”

Sugar Hill once was home to wolves and bears

“In the late 16th and early 17th century, Sugar Hill probably had a broad mix of oak trees and hickory trees. For animal life there were lots of birds such as Cooper’s hawks and golden eagles. Manhattan had black bears and wolves until 1720, too. These animals would have been found around Sugar Hill.  You can look up wildlife of the Sugar Hill neighborhood here.”

 Sugar Hill was important for the Lenape tribe

“The Lenapes were Native Americans living on Manhattan in the 16th century. They would have fished down at the base of Sugar Hill on the Harlem River, but they probably did not live on top of the hill. Based on early descriptions of the trail system we believe that the Lenape at some point climbed up the hill to get over and down into Inwood.”

The hill needs more green

“Sugar Hill like other neighborhoods has been covered with asphalt and buildings. When we pour rock on top of the soil it causes flooding when it rains. This makes it hard for water to get into the soil. So creeks and springs dry up. That’s why people try to plant gardens, which is good for the ecology. It opens up the soil and gives the earth a chance to breathe. There is a need for all neighborhoods, including Sugar Hill, to have more gardens and open space.”