Hilltop Park And the Church of Baseball

December 17th, 2010
by Byron Bennett

Perched on a hill overlooking the Hudson River at the southwest corner of Broadway and 168th Street in Washington Heights was Hilltop Park, the original home ball field of the New York Yankees (known then as the Highlanders).

Entrance to Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The third base grandstand, which once ran parallel to Fort Washington Avenue, is shown in the picture below.

The first base grandstand, depicted in the photograph below, ran parallel to 165th Street.

Kid Gleason of the Chicago White Sox at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, erected in the 1920’s, now engulfs the entire site.

American League Park Circa 1910 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Nothing remains of the old ballpark.

New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, Former Site of Hilltop Park

In a courtyard just off Fort Washington Avenue, between 165th and 168th Streets, is a bronze plaque marking the former location of home plate.

Former Site of Hilltop Park’s Home Plate

The New York Yankees donated the plaque to the hospital and unveiled it in 1993 during a dedication attended by former Highlanders pitcher Chet Hoff, who was then 102 years old.  Mr. Hoff went on to become the oldest living ex-major-leaguer ever, before his death five years later.

Bronze Plaque Honoring Former Location of Hilltop Park

This famous picture (below) of Ty Cobb sliding into third base, and third baseman Jimmy Austin, was taken at Hilltop Park.

Ty Cobb Sliding Into Third Base at Hilltop Park (photo image courtesy of Mike’s Chicago White Sox website at  www.freewebs.com/karamaxjoe/jimmyaustinjersey.htm  

The location of third base, where this picture was taken, is inside the Presbyterian Building shown in the photo below, just 90 feet beyond where the home plate marker resides.

The Presbyterian Building, Former Site of Third Base at Hilltop Park

The medical center’s chapel – the Pauline A. Hartford Memorial Chapel – is  constructed on what once was Hilltop Park’s right field.  It is, literally, a true “church of baseball.”

Pauline A Hartford Memorial Chapel (With Rose Window Seen Through Trees), Located in Former Site of Hilltop Park Right Field


The courtyard off Fort Washington Street currently is under construction and the bronze plaque honoring the former location of home plate has been removed.

Sign On Fort Washington Street Announcing Construction In Courtyard

As such, the courtyard is closed off to visitors.

Courtyard as seen through chain link fence


Although the actual ballpark is long gone, the distinctive, attached apartment buildings at the corner of 168th and Broadway remain from the time of Hilltop Park.  Those buildings appear in the photograph below.

Players Practicing at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The photograph below depicts those same buildings, along with a Victorian style stone building, long gone, that sat along Broadway, just south of 168th Street.

New York Highlander Curt Coleman at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The buildings  as they appear today facing 168th Street, at the intersection of 168th and Broadway.

Apartments Facing 168th Street

The apartment buildings house offices, a restaurant, and Melbran Pharmacy.

Melbran Pharmacy at the Corner of 168th and Broadway

The former ballpark site is easily accessible via the 168th Street Subway Station.

Subway Stop at 168th and Broadway

The lost ballpark located up Broadway, 120 blocks north on Times Square, is worth a visit for any true New York Yankees fan and is only a two mile drive from the Yankees current home at 161st  Street in the Bronx.  Just take the Macombs Dam Bridge across the Harlem River to west 155th Street to Broadway, and head north to 165th  Street. Or, take the subway to 168th Street Station.

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Posted in Hilltop Park, New York ballparks | Comments (5)

  • Avatar Trophies says:

    Wow, some great baseball history right there. A lot of things I never knew about Hilltop Baseball. Thansk for the info.

  • […] New York City to chase down historical baseball landmarks. Our stops included the former sites of Hilltop Park, the Polo Grounds, Washington Park, and Ebbets Field. While in Brooklyn, we also went in search of […]

  • […] 1903, Baltimore’s American League franchise was sold to New York interests and became the New York Highlanders, and later the New York Yankees. The Eastern League Baltimore Orioles (the league was renamed the […]

  • Avatar Brian says:

    I was there today and was unable to locate the marker. The renovations to the courtyard appear to be complete so I wonder if they plan on putting the marker back. Anyone have any insight on this?

  • Byron Bennett Byron Bennett says:

    I believe it was the Yankees who purchased the plaque a decade ago. I suggest contacting the Yankees public affairs office and see if they know anything. It would be a shame not to place the plaque back in that spot. DBS

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