Deep inside the upscale Riverdale section of the Bronx is a private subdivision with two ponds that recall its former landowner. The ponds can be viewed by traveling downhill on West 246th Street to the west of Independence Avenue.
Here, the street curves and descends downhill towards the Hudson River. Delafield Way branches off to the left with the ponds located behind a guard booth at the entrance to the Delafield Estates development.
In the leafy corner of northwestern Bronx is the 140-acre residential enclave of Fieldston. seemingly a village inside the city, its private streets are open to traffic, but no parking is allowed. Its homes resemble a Thomas Kinkade painting, preserved by restrictive covenants and the city’s landmarks law. It also has its private parks, including one with a pond inside it.
This glacial pond is tucked inside a privately-owned park maintained by fees from local residents. Continue reading
Each of New York’s flagship Olmsted-designed parks has its own pond or lake, intended for ice skating, fishing, and boating. Often these waterways predate the parks, with long natural and human histories relating to the development of neighborhoods around the parks. One such example is Van Cortlandt Lake in the Bronx.
In the midst of the fall season, it is an ideal place to capture the sight of the foliage as it changes colors with the cooling temperatures.
Prior to urbanization, Tibbetts Brook flowed south from what is now Van Cortlandt Park to Spuyten Duyvil Creek, a course marked on maps by Tibbett Avenue. In the proposal to daylight the buried section of this stream, the new course is envisioned a few blocks to the east.
The proposed stream path runs on the route of a railway that rolled through northwestern Bronx until 1980. Since then, portions of it have become a naturally occurring wetland. With a little cleaning up and a path following it, one can imagine abandoned spaces such as the underpass above having a creek followed by a walking path.
When a Circle Line tour boat circumnavigates Manhattan, tourists crowd on the deck to snap photos of Lady Liberty and other recognizable downtown landmarks. I prefer to crane my neck uptown when the boat travels up the Harlem River and Spuyten Duyvil Creek. That’s where the forgotten aspects of the city’s history can be seen, or not as in the case below.
Here’s a 1923 photo of the Johnson Iron Works from the My Inwood blog. The foundry sat on a peninsula on Spuyten Duyvil Creek halfway been the Hudson and Harlem rivers, facing Inwood Hill Park. In the backgrounds is the Palisades cliff of New Jersey. In the 1930s, the factory and the entire peninsula were eliminated. Continue reading
One of my favorite sources for Bronx trivia over the years have been the brothers Buddy and Richie Stein, formerly of Riverdale Press, which was founded by their parents. Buddy was my professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and Richie was my copy editor at The Jewish Star. As natives of Riverdale, they remember a childhood that preceded the arrival of high-rise apartments, when all of Riverdale appeared as a southern extension of the Hudson Valley rather than the northern tip of New York City. The Steins remember by name some of its hidden waterways, including Alder Brook.
It’s an obscure stream hidden behind dense vegetation and the neighborhood’s most exclusive properties. Continue reading