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.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Bay View Hotel on City Island, a Pelham Landmark for Many Years

During the late nineteenth century there was a magnificent hotel named the Bay View Hotel that stood at Bridge Street and City Island Avenue on the former Bowne-King estate.  The hotel was built in the Second Empire style described as "[a]n eclectic architectural style based on French Renaissance and Baroque models."  The style first became popular in the United States in about 1860 and was well-represented in Pelham Manor and on City Island before the island was annexed by New York City during the mid-1890s.  

As City Island grew into a popular tourist resort and fishing destination during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Bay View Hotel provided a beautiful setting for boarders and overnight tourist guests.  During the 1880s, the hotel was known as "Von Liehn's Bay View Hotel."  

The Bay View Hotel, City Island, Circa 1904.
Source:  Image from Post Card Postmarked in 1904.

The location of the hotel was ideal.  It faced the City Island Bridge on the island side and was a grand sight to behold as visitors to the island crossed the bridge.  Below is a detail from a map of City Island prepared in 1899 showing where the hotel complex was located.  City Island Bridge can be seen extending off into the waters at about the 10 o'clock position in the image on the left side.  

Detail from Map of City Island Published in 1899
Showing Bay View Hotel Complex in Block Bounded
to the North Bridge Street and to the West by Today's
City Island Avenue.  Source:  Board of Public Improvements
Topographical Bureau, Map or Plan Showing a General 
of the Bronx (1899) (Available via Lionel Pincus and Princess
Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library).

There are many brief accounts published in period newspapers describing outings, celebrations, and gatherings at the Bay View Hotel complex.  One such account is transcribed in its entirety immediately below.


The Protean Society had its annual outing last Friday, to City Island.  

The Society was organized in 1890, and since then has had its outing a week before the close of school, except in 1895 and 1896.  Little interest was manifested in the organization, until last Fall, when it was re-organized, and the following officers elected:  President, Robert H. McVea; Vice-President, Herman F. Beck; Corresponding Secretary, Louis A. Cohen; Recording Secretary, William Konkel; Treasurer, Emil Mayer.

The Society was formerly composed of members of the High Class, but now all the cadet officers are members, namely:  Robert H. McVea, Herman F. Beck, Emil Mayer, Louis Cohen, James Avens, William Konkel, Anthony Reiff, Edward Rappholdt, Henry Prinsinzing, Charles Sanford, Henry Muench, James Burke, E. V. Moeslein.  The invited guests were Messrs. W. H. Van Tassell, E. A. Hodgson and A. Capelli.

Principal Currier is counselor of the Society, and its prosperity is owing a great deal to his advice.

It is not for me to go in detail and give a history of the society, but sufficient to say that it seems to have regained its lost energy and has made its presence felt at Fanwood after a lapse of two years. 

The outing this year was to Bay View Hotel, City Island, by a tally-ho drawn by four horses.  The tally-ho arrived on time at the Institution, at 8:30 A. M., but the members were not all ready to start.  Another delay was caused by the non-appearance of the official photographer, Mr. Ranald Douglas, who was prevented from arriving at the scene of starting, to photograph the members in their outing costumes, grey coats and caps and white duck trousers.  So after waiting till twenty minutes to ten for Mr. Douglas, they decided to start.  Just as they left the grounds, Mr. Douglas appeared, but too late.

The route taken this time differs somewhat from the previous outings of the society, although the destination was the same. 

The boys were well provided with fish horns, bugles, bicycle whistles, and other kinds of instruments, and at intervals the noise they made startled the natives on the route, which was across Washington Bridge to University Heights, where a fine view was had of the magnificent new buildings of New York University and 'Ohio Field,' where our foot ball and base ball team have met their rivals for glory.  Of course the party let themselves loose, and gave as a parting the Fanwood yell.  The coach was going at a lively rate of speed.  Soon University Heights was out of view; Morris Heights was next reached, and Berkeley Oval, where our boys past and present have achieved glory, was passed, and although at that early hour deserted, the party again gave another ringing yell which must have been heard for miles aroudn.  The next place of special importance was Fordham, here still stands the house where Edgar Allen Poe lived; also St. John's or Fordham College, whom our boys have time and time again met both on the gridiron and the diamond.  There is still another place that interests the sporting element in Fordham, and that is the fallen champion, Corbett's Hotel.  Bronx Park and Morris Park are passed, so is Westchester, Westchester creek, in short order.  The Catholic Protectory is perhaps the greatest institution of Westchester.  Here are housed over one thousand boys.  Not far off is the Westchester Institution for Catholic Deaf-Mutes. 

Besides these attractions which were passed and noted upon, the scenery all along the route is very beautiful, and would recommend it to the Silent Wheelmen for a run some day this summer.  Pelham Manor has so many shade trees and many desirable lots for sale, that it would be well for the Silent Wheelmen to try and secure land to erect a club house at some future time.  Being in the borough of Bronx, it is a part of the City of New York.

At the End of Pelham Manor is a bridge, and from this bridge City Island is in sight.  The party arrived at the Bay View Hotel at 12 o'clock, and dinner was served at 1.30 P. M. -- and such a dinner it was too.  To say that all dd have good appetites is not doing them justice, so we will draw the curtain here.

After dinner, a trip around the island was had on a Naphtha launch owned by the proprietor of the Bay View Hotel, which took up one hour.

A bowling contest was the next attraction, the bowlers were A. Capelli and Wm. Van Tassell against Robert McVea and E. A. Hodgson.  The former won by th score of 157 to 156.

The boys amused themselves in various other ways.  Some went boating, others fishing, and a few, although the water was rather cold, went in swimming.  Taken all in all they had a very enjoyable time.  Supper was served at half past five, and all I can say in praise of the feast is that it took one hour to get through it.

The return trip was begun at 6.40, and ten minutes after it began to rain, but not very hard.  Despite this the boys kept up their spirits, and their yell and noise was kept up all the way to the Institution, which was made via 155th Street Viaduct.  The party arrived at the Institution at 9 o'clock, all expressing themselves having had a good time.


Source:  THE  ANNUAL OUTING OF THE PROTEANS OF FANWOOD, Deaf Mutes' Journal, Jun. 10, 1897, Vol. XXVI, No. , p. 1, cols. 4-5.

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