The 43-acre gardens used to be part of the larger estate of Samuel Untermyer. He was a wealthy lawyer whose green thumbs were only partly from counting all his cash. He also dug horticulture, and during the first half of the 1900s erected the elegant private gardens that today are an elegant public park.
But the reputation of the place got a whole lot darker when the Son of Sam brought it up as part of his defense.
David Berkowitz, the gun-toting serial killer who got his serial killer moniker from a telepathic dog, claimed to have hung out at the park with a coterie of anarchists, witches, pedophiles, and murderers, all bent on destroying the world one dead German Shepherd at a time.
He said that terrible things went down in the ruins of the park and that the dark cabal was the real Son of Sam killers. He claimed that his role was just as lookout during the attacks that killed six and injured seven over the course of a year from 1976 to 1977. Berkowitz didn’t accuse anybody by name because he said the group was still out there and that he feared for his family.
And it was because of this story that I found myself in the graffiti-covered ruins below the park.
His place was only a mile and a half from Untermyer Park.
The park entrance is at 945 North Broadway. It was immediately apparent that the gardens are a relic of another time, and even though it was clean and well-kept on my visit, its decay was evident.
I was, however, able to walk under the short man-made tunnel to ascend to the gazebo that they call the Eagles Nest. And I was able to take the 100 Steps.
This was my jumping off point.
The gatehouse could have been the meeting place of the supposed cabal, but there were other structures nearby in the past that aren’t standing anymore that are probably just as likely.
But I guess anyplace is as good as the other for plotting the demise of the world.