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The Bronx


The Bronx is one of the five boroughs of New York City. The city's northernmost borough, it is the only one that is part of the mainland United States and not situated on an island.

The borough of the Bronx is coterminous with Bronx County, with a population of 1.35 million. While the official borough name is The Bronx, the official county name is simply Bronx County without the definite article.

Named for Jonas Bronck, a Swedish sea captain and 1641 resident whose 500-acre (2 km²) farm between the Harlem River and the Aquahung comprises part of the modern borough, the Bronx is the fourth most populous of New York City's five boroughs. Bronx county is the fifth most populous county in the New York Metropolitan Area


The Bronx was called Rananchqua by the Siwanoy Native Americans, and was divided by the Aquahung River, now known as the Bronx River. The land was first settled by Europeans in 1639, when Jonas Bronck, for whom the area was later named, established a farm along the Harlem River in the area now known as the Mott Haven section. The Dutch and English settlers referred to the area as "Bronck's Land".

The territory now contained within Bronx County was originally part of Westchester County, an original county of New York state. The present Bronx County was contained in four towns: Westchester, Yonkers, Eastchester, and Pelham.

In 1846, a new town, West Farms, was created by secession from Westchester; in turn, in 1855, the town of Morrisania seceded from West Farms. In 1873, the town of Kingsbridge (roughly corresponding to the modern Bronx neighborhoods of Kingsbridge, Riverdale, and Woodlawn) seceded from Yonkers.

In 1874 the western portion of the present Bronx County, consisting of the towns of Kingsbridge, West Farms, and Morrisania, was transferred to New York County, and in 1895 the Town of Westchester and portions of Eastchester and Pelham, were transferred to New York County. City Island, known as New York City's only nautical community, voted to secede from Westchester County and join New York County in 1896. In 1898, New York City was amalgamated with the Bronx as one of five boroughs (though still within New York County). In 1914, those parts of the then New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County were constituted as the new Bronx County (while also keeping its status as one of the five boroughs of the city).

The Bronx underwent rapid growth after World War I. Extensions of the New York City Subway contributed to the increase in population as thousands of immigrants flooded the Bronx, resulting in a major boom in residential construction. Among these groups, many Irish settled here. Author Willa Cather, Pierre Lorillard who made a fortune on tobacco sales, and inventor Jordan Mott were famous for settling the land. In addition, French, German, and Polish immigrants moved into the borough. The Jewish population also increased notably during this time and many synagogues still exist throughout the borough, although many of these have been converted to other uses.

In prohibition days, bootleggers and gangs ran rampant in the Bronx. Mostly Polish and Italian immigrants smuggled in the illegal whiskey. By 1926, the Bronx was noted for its high crime rate and its many speakeasies. Mayor Jimmy Walker stated:

The Manhattan Polak is very different from the Bronx Polak. The Manhattan Polak would smuggle in the illegal whiskey secretly so as the cops aren't on 'em or don't see 'em a mile away. In the Bronx, the Polaks don't give a lick if they spotted with it. They'd pull out their guns as quick as lightning and the cops would be dead men in less than a second.

After the 1930s, the Polish immigrant population in the Bronx decreased as a result of better living conditions in other states. The German population followed suit in the 1940s and so did many Italians in the 1950s, leaving a thriving Hispanic (mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican) and African-American population which would continue to live in the Bronx to this day.

During the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the Bronx went into an era of sharp decline in quality of life. Many factors have been put forward by historians and other social scientists. They include the theory that urban renewal projects in the borough (such as Robert Moses' Cross-Bronx Expressway) destroyed existing low-density neighborhoods in favor of roads that produced urban sprawl as well as high-density housing projects. Another factor may have been the shift by insurance companies and banks to stop offering financial services to the Bronx and other working-class industrial areas (the "Rustbelt") in favor of the booming suburbs in "the Sunbelt"—a process known as redlining.

For a period, a wave of arson overtook the southern portion of the borough's apartment buildings, with competing theories as to why. Some point to the heavy traffic and use of illicit drugs among the area's poor as causing them to be inclined to scam the city's benefits for burn-out victims as well as the Section 8 housing program. Others believe landlords decided to burn their buildings before their insurance policies expired and were not renewed. After the destruction of nearly half of the buildings in the South Bronx, the arsons all but ended during the tenure of Mayor Ed Koch with aftereffects still felt into the early 1990s

Eastchester Bay

Eastchester Bay is a protected body of water between City Island and the mainland Bronx, New York.

Technically, it is a sound, not a bay, since it is open to larger bodies of water at both ends. The northern end connects via a narrow channel to Pelham Bay (which is also really a sound, since it, in turn, opens onto Long Island Sound). The southern end has a broad mouth, opening onto the East River, Little Neck Bay, and Long Island Sound. The Hutchinson River empties into Eastchester Bay near the northern end.

Many yacht clubs and marinas line the bay on both sides, leading to a high level of recreational boating traffic. Traffic is particularly dense on weekends and Wednesday evenings in the summer, when the various clubs run sailboat races.

There is also a high volume of commercial traffic. The bay opens onto the main shipping channel into New York from Long Island Sound. This channel is used by large commercial vessels, high speed ferries, fishing boats, barges under tow, and all manner of vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver. Barge traffic transiting the length of the bay in and out of the Hutchinson River is concentrated into a few hours a day, as is constrained to times of high tide.

The bay also sees the occasional seaplane, visiting Evers Seaplane Base

Orchard Beach, New York

Orchard Beach is a public beach in the borough of The Bronx, in the City of New York.

Orchard Beach is a man made beach in Pelham Bay Park on Long Island Sound.

It was created by Robert Moses by filling in one third of Pelham Bay with rubbish and landfill and sand was also added. The landfill was put between Rodman's Neck, Twin Island and Hunters Island

Pelham Bay

Pelham Bay is a small bay, between City Island and Orchard Beach in the Bronx, New York.

Technically, it is a sound, not a bay, since it is open to larger bodies of water at both ends. It connects to Eastchester Bay at the south, and opens onto Long Island Sound and City Island Harbor at the east.

Pelham Bay was originally larger than it is today. Approximately one third of the original bay was filled in to create Orchard Beach in the 1930s

City Island, Bronx, New York

City Island is a small island approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) long by 0.5 mi (1 km) wide. It is part of the Bronx, and (as of 2005) has a population of about 4500.

City Island is located at the extreme western end of Long Island Sound, south of Pelham Bay and east of Eastchester Bay. The body of water between City Island and the even smaller (and uninhabited) Hart Island to the east is known as City Island Harbor. The small island adjacent to the northeast is High Island. Stepping Stones Lighthouse, marking the main shipping channel into New York, is off the southern tip of the island, near the Long Island shore.

The island has the look and feel of a small New England fishing village, with no spot more than a few minutes walking distance to the water. Most businesses are clustered along centrally-located City Island Avenue. There are two small supermarkets, a gas station, a pharmacy, and a bank, and a variety of other small shops. The island is most famous for its numerous seafood restaurants and antique stores which line both sides of the avenue.

There are two grade schools; P.S. 175, and St Mary Star of the Sea (Catholic).

Government services include the City Island Station post office (10464) and a FDNY firehouse (engine 70 & ladder 53). Police presence (mostly traffic control on summer weekends) is provided by the 45th Precinct, located in the mainland Bronx. The City Island Branch is possibly the smallest of the New York Public Library system, even after the recent expansion which doubled the size of the building.

Houses of worship are Saint Mary Star of the Sea Holy Roman Catholic Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, Grace Episcopal Church, and the Temple Beth El.

A local paper, The Island Current is printed 10 times a year, and chronicles mostly community issues and local news.

City Island was first established as an English settlement in 1865 as a supply stop between Manhattan and northern ports. It continued to be an important shipping and yachting center throughout the 18th and 19 centuries. Since World War II, City Island has been home to yacht clubs, boat makers, sail makers, sailing schools, marinas, fishing boats, and marine supply and repair shops. Today it continues to be a nautical community, but also serves as an oasis of seafood cuisine and historic buildings in Eastchester Bay.

Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo is a world-famous zoo in The Bronx, New York. It opened on November 8, 1899, with 22 exhibits and 843 animals and with the goal to "advance the study of zoology, protect wildlife, and educate the public." Its original permanent buildings, designed by Heins & LaFarge, are a series of Beaux-Arts pavilions grouped around the large circular sea lion pool.

The Bronx Zoo was one of the first zoos in North America to move animals from cages—often organized by families in Linnaean classification—to more naturalistic environments (e.g. "The African Plains") which would mix species and attempt to replicate the region the species arrived from. There would still be barriers so that predators and prey would be physically separated by devices such as moats, though the barriers might not be apparent to viewers. It is especially known for its 'Wild Asia' tramway, where spectators can witness Asian animals up front (in a monorail), and Jungleworld, an indoor exhibit on plants and animals from tropical rain forests. The zoo also boasts the Congo Gorilla Forest, which is the largest man-made rainforest in the world at 6.5 acres, and focuses on conservation; your entry fee goes right back out to help save the species within the exhibit.

The Bronx Zoo is owned and operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, formerly known as the New York Zoological Society. WCS also operates the following parks in New York City:

Central Park Zoo
Queens Zoo
Prospect Park Zoo
New York Aquarium

Throgs Neck Bridge

The Throgs Neck Bridge is a suspension bridge opened on January 11, 1961 that carries Interstate 295 and connects the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx with the Bayside section of Queens. It is the newest bridge across the East River and was built to relieve traffic on the adjacent Whitestone Bridge.

The span is 1800 feet (549 m) long, with an anchorage to anchorage total length of 2910 feet (887 m).

As of March 13, 2005, the crossing charge for a two-axle passenger vehicle is $4.50 charged in each direction, with a $.50 discount for E-ZPass users.

The Throgs Neck Bridge is owned by the City of New York and operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York).

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The City Island Nautical Museum

The City Island Nautical Museum display maritime artifacts and antiques. It is located at 190 Fordham Street and is open only on Sunday afternoons (other times by appointment). Admission is free, and there is a small gift shop

City Island is a small community at the edge of New York City located just beyond Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx and surrounded by the waters of western Long Island Sound and Eastchester Bay. With Execution Light to the northeast and Stepping Stones Lighthouse to the south, City Island has a rich nautical history, much of it preserved by the Historical Society and Nautical Museum.
Originally inhabited by the Siwanoy Indians, who lived during the summer on the plentiful clams, oysters and fish they found here, City Island was first established as an English settlement in 1685. The English crown granted Thomas Pell ownership of the island and parts of Westchester County, which lasted until 1749, when ownership passed to other individuals. During the 1700s, many of the island’s residents were either oystermen or Hellgate pilots who helped navigate ships down the East River to New York Harbor. Ideally situated to service schooners traveling between New York and points north and south, the island became an important shipbuilding and yachting center during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The two world wars brought about a conversion from yacht building to the construction of submarine chasers, tugboats, Vosper-style P.T. boats, landing craft, and minesweepers for the United States government. After World War II, yachting returned and with it the building of 12-meter sloops that successfully defended the America’s Cup. Today the presence of yacht clubs, sailing schools, marinas, sailmakers, fishing and lobster boats, as well as marine supply and repair shops, reflect City Island’s role as a nautical community.
The City Island Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the collection, preservation, and display of artifacts in the Nautical Museum, which is housed in one of the area’s most picturesque buildings, the old Public School 17, built in 1897 on one of the highest points on the island. The school continued in use until 1975, when P. S. 175 was built on City Island Avenue. When the old school building was sold in 1986, the city reserved space for use by the City Island Historical Society and the Community Center. Several old classrooms now serve as galleries for the museum.

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Huntington Free Library & Reading Room

Huntington Free Library & Reading Room
9 Westchester Square, Bronx, NY 10461
(718) 829-7770

Stepping into the Huntington Free Library is like stepping back into the late 19th century. The ca. 1883 building still contains much of its original furniture, and historic items placed throughout the library - such as vintace typewriters, a 1901 wood sculpture of the library and a 1917 Tiffany grandfather's clock - only add to its charm. The library's collections consist of a general reading room focusing on Bronx History, open Monday - Friday, 1:30 - 4:30, and a famous Native American collection of research materials, open only by appointment. The library also offers performances and lectures on borough history and Native American cultures.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia