MIT 4.213J/11.308J Urban Nature and City Design








About the Bronx River
Jurisdictions * History * Ecology


Taken from the Bronx River and Bronx River Parkway Historical Signs

“The Bronx River was called Aquehung or ‘River of High Bluffs' by the Mohegan Indians who lived and fished along it. The river attracted European traders, farmers, and millers in the 1600s and 1700s." (2)

“In 1639, a wealthy Swedish businessman and former sea captain named Jonas Bronck (1600-1643) became one of the first Europeans to settle in the area when he purchased and bartered 500 acres of land along the river's southern end from the Native Americans. Bronck farmed the land and soon European settlement spread northward along the waterway that had come to be know as ‘Bronck's River.' The first mills in the area started operating in 1680 and by the mid-18th century there were over a dozen being powered by the river, manufacturing everything from barrels and bleach, to ironwork and snuff.” (3)

“The construction of the New York Central Railroad in the 1840s turned the valley into an industrial corridor, and by the end of the 19 th century the Bronx River had degenerated into what one official commission called ‘an open sewer.'

"In 1888, land was set aside for Bronx Park, which would include the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo. In the early 20 th century, the first modern automotive parkway with restricted frontage, limited access, and grade separations was built long the Bronx River. The Bronx River Parkway was initiated in 1906 as a river conservation effort; however, efforts lagged until after World War I. It was not until 1925 that the 15.5-mile linear park and winding roadway was complete between Bronx Park in New York to Kensico Dam in Mount Vernon."

“In 1938, the City of New York acquired land for the extension of the Bronx River Parkway from Bronx Park South to Soundview Park. Construction of the parkway was completed after the war, by 1952.” (4)