The Sisyphus Stones
Hordes of precariously balanced stone figures crowd the shores of the Hudson River.
While walking north along the Hudson River Greenway in Fort Washington Park, you may suddenly find yourself accompanied by a host of stone people. The rocky figures, which display an odd blend of delicate balance and sturdy, stoic silence, stand witness to the rivers of water, traffic, and people that ebb and flow through New York City.
The stone people first appeared in July of 2017. Several hand-made signs describe them as “Sisyphus Stones,” and issue warnings to keep kids away (they are heavy rocks) along with a note that they are neither glued nor cemented in place. They’re the work of Uliks Gryka, who was inspired to create them after noticing the medley of rough, jagged rocks strewn about the shore.
At first, their appearance was unpredictable and fluid, much like the river itself. On some days, the rocks would disappear, typically toppled by vandals. On others, dozens and dozens of the stacked stones crowded the river’s edge. When present, the whimsically ephemeral Sisyphus Stones stretch on and on into the distance, as though forming ranks for an attack on the red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge.
Now, the stones, which are made from elongated shards of a metamorphic rock called Manhattan Schist that glitters delightfully in the sun, appear to be largely permanent residents of the neighborhood. Locals and passersby have taken to continually building and rebuilding them.
Know Before You Go
From downtown, take the 1 train (red line) to 157th St. Walk one block north to 158th and turn left. Go all the way to the end and under the H.Hudson Pkwy to the Greenway. Turn right (north) and walk along the river for a while. Paths there diverge only to come back together, so at forks you can take any path. The stones are after the softball fields but before the bridge.
Note: there are no restrooms in winter, so be sure to follow New York Rule #1 (when there is a restroom, use it, whether you "have to" or not).
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