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ningside Park straddles the more-than-100-foot (30 m) cliff between the high terrain of Morningside Heights to the west and the lowlands of Harlem to the east. The cliff was created through fault movement and smoothed during several glacial periods in the last several million years. Before the 17th century, when modern-day Manhattan was settled by Europeans, the region had been occupied by the Lenape Native Americans for several thousand years. The Lenape referred to the area near the park as "Muscota" or "Muscoota", meaning 'place of rushes'. Dutch settlers occupied Manhattan in the early 17th century and called the area around Morningside Park, Vredendal, meaning "peaceful dale". The lowlands to the east were called Flacken by the Dutch and later translated to "Flats" in English. The land to the east was not settled initially because of its marshy topography. It became known as Montagne's
(or Montayne's) Flat after Johannes de la Montagne, who was among the first European settlers of New Harlem in 1658; he owned about 200 acres (81 ha) between what is now 109th and 124th Streets. The western boundary of the area was the cliff, while the eastern boundary was a creek that emptied east into the East River. Montagne's Flat was subdivided into lots in 1662, and four years later a new charter for New Harlem was given to the English, who had seized New Netherland, renaming it New York. Through the 17th and 18th centuries, the cliff formed a geopolitical boundary between Harlem to the east and the heights to the west. The western boundary of New Harlem was drawn through the present-day Morningside Park in 1666, running from 74th Street at the East River to 124th Street at the North River (now the Hudson River). To the west of the line were the common lands of the Province of New York, which were sold to Jacob De Key in 1701. Following Harman Vandewater's acquisit
ion of part of the De Key farm by 1735, it was called Vande