On the northbound drive taking Throgs Neck Bridge, the anchorage tower rests at the tip of the bridge’s namesake, a fortress-turned-college campus. The road then runs above a cove in the Long Island Sound before landing on the Bronx mainland. Hammond Cove separates Throg’s Neck from Locust Point at the southeastern extreme of this borough.
This tidal inlet contains a private beach and two marinas in the most suburban part of the Bronx, where single-family houses and quiet are the most defining features.
Where it Flows
On the 1872 F. W. Beers map of the Town of Westchester, we see Hammond’s Creek near the land’s end, one of many indentations in the shoreline fed by creeks originating further inland. I’ve written previously about Pugsley Creek, Baxter Creek, Westchester Creek, and Weir Creek. The knob of land at Locust Point appears as Wright’s Island. Locustggg
It wasn’t a full-time island, but in the event of a storm surge the property of Capt. George Wright was separate from the mainland. Historian Bill Twomey wrote that Wright built a causeway to make his land accessible at high tide. His family lived here through 1910.
But the 1839 legislation concerning Hammond’s Creek authorizes Ogden and Mary Hammond to construct a “dam, dyke, or mound, as a road or causeway” at this waterway. Was this 1839 dam the same one as Wright’s causeway? On all the maps of Hammond Creek that I’ve seen, there is no dam or causeway with Hammond’s name on it. Perhaps the dam authorized in this 1839 law was proposed and permitted, but never built.
The earliest map that illustrates the terrain of Locust Point is Charles Blaskowitz’s 1776 map that is fully titled, “A survey of Frog’s Neck and the rout[e] of the British Army to the 24th of October 1776, under the command of His Excellency the Honorable William Howe, General and Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s forces, &ca, &ca, &ca.” The original map can be found at the Library of Congress. On this map, Locust Point is labeled as a marsh with dry land in its center. The route of the cross-borough Tremont Avenue is highlighted.
Using aerial surveys on the DoITT NYCity Map, we see urbanization expanding around this waterway. On the 1924 survey, I highlighted the old road to Locust Point/Wright’s Island showing how narrow the land was that connected this “island” to the mainland. In 1951, we see East 177th Street extending far to the east of other numbered streets, ending at the tip of Locust Point. This street became the route of Cross-Bronx Expressway a decade later. Finally in 2012, I highlighted Longstreet Avenue that has been interrupted by the approach to Throgs Neck Bridge. It is the only road that leads to Locust Point. Also highlighted is Pennyfield Avenue, the only road running to the tip of Throgs Neck.
Erasing Hammond Creek
Unlike its Manhattan shoreline, East River in the Bronx has the features of Long Island Sound, with numerous inlets and points. Shortly after the 1895 annexation by New York City, planners made maps to straighten the shoreline with bulkhead and pierhead lines, and Shore Drive that would run from Baxter Creek Inlet to Weir Creek. Hammond Creek is visible on this 1915 State Assembly map, but we see paper streets running across it that hint to its planned disappearance.
An undated map printed after the 1961 completion of Throgs Neck Bridge, located in the Parks Department Orchard Beach office, shows the crescent of streets on Locust Point curving towards Throgs Neck atop the erased course of Hammond Creek. In reality, the creek was not filled, perhaps on account of the difficulty and high cost and its distant location from the city center that gives the area a suburban and quiet scene to this day.
From Throgs Neck we see Hammond Cove narrowing into the tidal creek sharing its name. At its mouth on the right is Locust Point Yacht Club, and on the left is Schuyler Hill Civic Association which has a private beach on the creek. Further upstream is Locust Point Marina, a private entity on leaded parkland. Most of this waterway is protected by NYC Parks as a 22-acre wetland preserve.
No waves on this beach. One needs either a membership or an invitation from a member of Schuyler Hill Civic Association. It is one of three private beaches in the Bronx. On the other side of Throgs Neck Bridge, there are private beaches in Whitestone, Beechhurst, and Douglaston. The city determines whether they are safe for swimming, based on the water quality. The city’s other private beaches can be found at Breezy Point, Roxbury, Gerritsen Beach, two in Sea Gate, and the private pond beach on Staten Island.
Resiliency for Hammond Creek
Following the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery published a plan in 2014 for the East Bronx waterfront. The plan’s vision for Hammond Creek features a raised earth berm with a walkway, similar to Sunset Cove, with retention ponds behind it to store water from street flooding. The berm and walkway would be built by the state and then managed by NYC Parks. Neighbors here shouldn’t worry about to many visitors to this park. It is still too far from public transportation and most of the homes here are single family.
As seen from airplanes bound for LaGuardia Airport, Hammond Creek serves the purpose of a safe harbor for small boats, shielded by Locust Point and Throgs Neck. The bridge here serves at the easternmost crossing on the East River, and the closest fixed crossing between Long Island and the mainland. The causeway and suspension bridge echoes designs for a more ambitious Long Island Sound crossing that was planned between the 1950s and 1970s. Fears of overdevelopment and traffic congestion have kept that great bridge from leaping off the drawing board.
In the News:
Staten Island Advance reports on yesterday’s grand opening of Richmond Terrace Park in Mariners Harbor, which overlooks Kill Van Kull. Happy New Waterfront Park!
NY Daily News reports on the construction of the missing ink on the East Midtown Greenway.