Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Photograph of the Old Wooden City Island Bridge

City Island once was part of the Town of Pelham. For many years an old wooden bridge connected the island to the mainland. In 1901, however, the bridge was replaced with a steel structure. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides a photograph of the old wooden bridge and transcribes an excerpt from the book in which the photograph appears.



Blacksmith Who Refused to Shoe a Horse on Sunday - Scenes That Figure in the Fight for Independence - President John Adams in The Bronx.

CITY ISLAND is a very delightful village, lying off Rodman's Neck, and comprises 230 acres. Until recently it was connected with the mainland with a wooden bridge, which originally spanned the Harlem River and some of the timbers of which had been taken from the old frigate North Carolina. This antique bridge was replaced by the present steel structure, which cost $200,000, erected in 1898 and opened to the public July 4th, 1901.

In the early days City Island was known as Minnewits, or Great Minnefords, Island, probably after Peter Minuits, the Dutch Governor and purchaser of Manhattan Island. It was a part of Pelham Manor, and was purchased from Thomas Pell by John Smith of Brooklyn. On June 19, 1761, the island came into the possession of Benjamin Palmer, who built the Free Bridge at Spuyten Duyvil.

In 1761 the inhabitants of the island launched a scheme to build a city which would surpass New York -- whence the name City Island. Several ferries were established to ply between the mainland and the island in order to further this project. The plan was checked by the Revolution, but was revived in 1790. The island was cut up into 4,500 lots of one hundred by twenty-five feet, which were sold at ten pounds each. In 1818 and in 1819 Nicholas Haight, Joshua Hustace and George W. Horton owned nearly all of the island and Rodman's Neck.

City Island is said to have been the first place in America where oyster culture was commenced. The old wooden bridge was always crowded on Sunday afternoon with anglers who found fishing in the water below very fruitful. City Island is also noted as a boat-building resort, and a laying-up place for racing craft, particularly of cup defenders of international fame. [Page 133 / Page 134.]

Many residents of Manhattan are attracted to City Island on Sundays and holidays by the facilities for bathing, rowing and fishing. Many city dwellers spend the summer on the island in tents, while numerous clubs have their summer camps here.

City Island is reached by train on the Suburban branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad to Bartow Station. Up to very recently there was an old fashioned bob-tailed [Note - photo of bridge shown above appears here within the text of the book] horsecar which took passengers from the railroad station to Marshall's Corners at the end of Rodman's Neck for one fare of five cents, and to the end of the island, for another. This was replaced in 1910 by an electric monorail, which has not proved very successful.

To the east of City Island lies Hart's Island, at one time owned by Oliver De Lancey, and later it passed into the possession of the Haights and Rodmans, then into the hands of John Hunter, and finally into the City of New York. To the north is High Island, [Page 134 / Page 135] and nearby are several rocky islets, called Rat Island, the Chimney Sweeps, the Blauzes and Goose Island.

One of the landmarks of City Island is the Horton homestead, the oldest house on the island. Most of City Island was once comprised of the Horton Farm.

The 'Macedonian Hotel' is another landmark which attracts wide attention. It is supposed to have been formed from part of the hulk of the English frigate Macedonian, which had been captured in the War of 1812 by Commodore Decatur.

The inscription reads: This house is the remains of the English Frigate 'Macedonian,' captured on Sunday, October 25th, 1812, by the United States Frigate 'United States' commanded by Capt. Stephen Decatur, U. S. N. The action was fought in Lat. 24° N., Long. 29° 30' W., that is about 600 miles N. W. of the Cape de Verde Islands off the W. coast of Africa and towed to Cowbay in 1874.

Mr. Stephen Jenkins in his Story of The Bronx cites a statement from the United States Naval Academy, by Park Benjamin, to the effect that, while the house is not the remains of the original British Macedonian, it is the remains of a second ship of that name, launched at Gosport, Virginia, in 1836, rebuilt at Brooklyn in 1852, and broken up in 1874, at Cow Bay, Long Island."

Source: Cook, Harry T., The Borough of The Bronx 1639-1913 Its Marvelous Development and Historical Surroundings, pp. 133-35 (NY, NY: Published by the Author, 1913).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home