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Little-Known Swindler Cove Park In Northern Manhattan Gaining Reputation As An Oasis

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An oasis on the coast of northern Manhattan, that's how people are describing Swindler Cove Park.

At least that's how it's referred to by the few people who know about one of the city's best-kept secrets.

Just off of Dyckman Street -- and steps away from the busy Harlem River Drive -- sits the park, which consists of five acres of beautifully restored parkland.

"I never knew about the park," one woman told CBS 2's Elise Finch.

Ten years ago the area was a dumping ground. Now it's a quiet oasis along the Harlem River, complete with manicured walkways, a series of ponds, a fountain, a community garden and a boathouse.

"It's being used," said Edwards Santos of the New York Restoration Project. "We want more people to use the park as sort of a resting place."

The New York Restoration Project maintains the park, but a number of local and state agencies are responsible for the area's transformation.

"It was funded by the New York State Department of Transportation," the Restoration Project's Jason Smith explained. "It was a remediation project for wetlands that were disturbed somewhere else in Manhattan. We took advantage of that and encouraged it to happen here, and partnered with the Parks Department to build this park around it."

People who do know about Swindler Cove come to bird watch, walk and boat. The park has even hosted weddings.

But by far, its biggest usage is in the form of an outdoor classroom.

"We learned how to cook," 12-year-old student Nelson Tejeda said. "It's cool because it's natural."

"It's one of the great things in life, because in places like New York you don't see all of this," 12-year-old Edwin Santana added.

The park, named after horticulturalist Billy Swindler, is currently hosting a nature camp. But employees said that they're looking forward to more visitors now that their little secret is out.

Entrances to Swindler Cove Park are on the bike path along the Harlem River and behind P.S. 5 on 10th Avenue.

Have you ever been to -- or even ever heard of -- Swindler Cove Park? If not, do you plan to check it out? Let us know in the comments section below...

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