The Vista was modeled on a similar series of descending stairs at the Villa D'Este in Italy. At the Villa D'Este, the stairs descend gracefully toward Lake Como while at Untermyer, they cascade toward the Hudson River. Bosworth's original design flanked the stairs with Japanese cedars mimicking the dark cypress of the original. This feature was restored after the removal of invasive trees; the inner bands are planted with Japanese forest grass.
At the base of the Vista is the Overlook. The two columns framing the view of the Hudson River and the Palisades are ancient Roman monolithic cipollino marble columns from the estate of Stanford White.