Old Resident Tells of Former Days (Part 1)

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    • #1347

      I have a “new” article up on the articles page.  It was actually first printed in the Riverdale News in 1935 but it has not seen the light of day for quite some time as the paper has yet to be digitized.  It contains the first installment in a series of articles written by J.B. James, who grew up in Riverdale in the 1860’s.

      If you are interested in the natural history of the area or Van Cortlandt Park, this one has some good stuff.  The articles to follow get a bit more into the social history.  Here’s the link: https://kingsbridgehistoricalsociety.org/old-resident-tells-of-former-days-part-1/

    • #1350
      Thomas Casey

      These first person account are always informative and enjoyable,,,I am always glad someone recored or wrote it down for us to enjoy


      Tom Casey

    • #1399

      Great stuff! keep it coming

    • #1408
      Thomas Casey


      I found an image of J. B. James house on Post Road at NYPL Digital GalleryHome of J. B. James


    • #1409

      Nice find.

      In the first photo that you found you can see a retaining wall that is still there.  It is the wall for Bertino Memorial Field at the Riverdale Country Day School.  This Google street-view shows the same spot (note the wall on the left):

      It looks like J.B. James beautiful childhood home was knocked down for the construction of the Henry Hudson Parkway–right around the time he wrote this memoir.  Explains some of the nostalgia.

    • #1458

      Thanks for posting Nick. Great stories, and each leads to more photos. Starting with crabbing by the Kingsbridge Hotel ..
      The view is likely from the Farmers Bridge and dated 1909. They are fishing in a spot that is now between two of the buildings of the Marble Hill Houses. The Kingsbridge Hotel is at the left.

      This is just a guess, but the yellow circle on this 1879 map might be Sheep Barn Bridge where  J. B. James caught the fine trout.

      This ca 1902 view is looking south from the north end of the lake. These may be the large oaks in the foreground, or those may have been from an earlier time. I believe the mills are still standing among the elms at the center of this photo, which likely makes it earlier than 1902

      This 1899 view shows the elm trees and the mills on the south bank. Is that the large oak overhanging the water?

      A view of the mills from the south labeled ca 1902 (the original was reversed)

      Close up between the mills, ca 1900

      Note about the horse car line Nick, I think the pic you posted is of the more modern trolleys that ran down Broadway from Getty Square until the 1950s. The horse-car trolleys were much earlier. You can see the overhead power feed in your pic and this one..

      J. B. James mentions Godwin island. This pic is after the tree is gone, and after a footbridge has been constructed across the island. No sign of the swan though.

      The house on the right in this pic seems to match the description of Warner’s Store

      This photo is labeled “former St. Matthew’s Church” and appears to show the building behind 2601 Broadway in 1925, possibly the Methodist Church Bethel described by J. B. James.

      He refers to Winter activities at VCP becoming more popular, this was due to folks taking the 9th Avenue elevated to the 155th St terminus by the Polo Grounds, then boarding the New York City and Northern Railroad (The Putnam Line) to VCP. The IRT didn’t reach VCP until 1907, so crowds before then would have arrived via the Putnam Line at this station, seen here looking west in 1904.
      East Side of Present Railroad Station, Van Cortlandt Park [Parks of the Bronx, 1904.]
      Modern view

      View looking northeast at the station in 1904.

      The station is out of frame to the lower left in this photo
      Ice skaters on Van Cortlandt Lake, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, N.Y., undated [February 1902?].

      Closer view
      Ice skaters in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, N.Y., undated [c. 1900-1905?].

      Curling in 1902 in front of the ruins of the old mills.
      Curling on Van Cortlandt Lake, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, N.Y., February 1902.
      Modern view of above

      Opposite view from above
      Curling on Van Cortlandt Lake, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, N.Y., February 1902.

      The refreshment stand, seen ca 1895
      Skating, Van Cortlandt Park. Some men lean on tables outside a refreshments stand.

    • #1461

      You have a real gift for finding photos, Alan.

      I cannot believe you found a photo of Warner’s Store.  I have been looking for one for YEARS.  That store was the center of the neighborhood of Mosholu.  The owner, Matthias Warner, also ran the post office and I’ve seen his name as a witness to legal documents of the Van Cortlandt family.  One thing I wonder is if this is the same Warner family that lived in North Riverdale during the Revolution and served in the local militia.  I imagine it is although I have never made a genealogical connection.

      The below painting of the Van Cortlandt House in the 1840s hangs in the gift shop of the Van Cortlandt House Museum.  I have always been curious about the buildings in the background.  On the far left there is a columned building that would be somewhere just west of Broadway, perhaps on the Albany Post Road.  It seems to have the same general shape and neo-classical look as the Warner’s Store photo but it looks like it is farther north.

      On the right of the house are the barns that are on the southern end of the parade grounds.  Between the barns and the mansion are some buildings that were out on the parade ground.  I remember reading that there was a farmhouse among them and it would not surprise me if the “sheep barn bridge” is out there as you suggest.

      As for the tracks on Broadway, I somehow missed the electric lines overhead–good catch.


    • #1468

      I have been checking out the archive that Alan linked to above.  Every time I look I find more images that I have not seen before partly because they are often not labeled correctly.  The image that he posted of “Godwin’s Island” is labeled as “Small unidentified bridge [over Westchester Creek?], Bronx, N.Y. [?], undated [c. 1897-1918?].”  In reality this was at today’s W 230th St. and Broadway.

      The great thing about these photos is that you can zoom in on them forever. Check out this one I found of the King’s Bridge that was also incorrectly labeled:

      Check out how close up you can get with zooming:

      The level of detail is pretty amazing.  J.B. James refers to the oysters you could get in Kingsbridge and there they are at “Liesler’s Fancy Groceries and Delicatessen.”

    • #1471
      Peter Ostrander

      Another very interesting photo is the removal of the Kings Bridge bridge in 1913.  It’s a sad fact that the bridge could not have been preserved.  The Bronx Historian and author, Stephen Jenkins, who wrote  the book The Story of the Bronx had tried to preserve the old bridge back at this time.  He was trying to have the bridge dismantled and reinstalled in Van Cortlandt Park next to the mansion. Unfortunately he was not successful, not much has changed in the regarding to historic preservation in the Bronx.

      In the photo below notice the horse drawn cart and workers removing the bridge.  Coffer dams were built to the east and west to keep out the Spuyten Duyvil creek.  View is from  south side of bridge on Marble Hill looking North West.


    • #1601

      I wanted to add this photo to the thread since the topic of J.B. James’ house on Post Road was addressed above.  This comes from the Riverdale News – 1926.  The house is question is just to the lower right of the athletic field fronting on Post Road.  This is less than 100 years ago and there are no buildings on Broadway–just billboards.

    • #1602
      Thomas Casey

      This is the best I could find in 2020

      Riverdale Country School 2020

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