The Bronx is a place steeped in history. Every corner you turn, there’s something waiting for you to be discovered which makes The Bronx so special to us (shocking, huh?).
Here are some fun facts you probably didn’t know about The Bronx unless you’re a die-hard lover of all things Bronx.
1. Although Lewis Morris’ 1790 proposal of making Morrisania the nation’s capital didn’t quite pan out, for a few weeks in 1797, President John Adams governed the nascent nation for several weeks from the Northeast Bronx. President Adams stayed at a farm in Eastchester near the present day intersection of Boston Road and Conner Street as they waited for a yellow fever epidemic to subside.
2. Batman is a Bronxite. Yep, the Dark Knight was born right here in The Bronx by cartoonist Bob Kane who worked out of his bedroom in his parents’ apartment in The Bronx. He had fellow Bronxite Bill Finger create Batman’s background story. Both Kane and Finger are DeWitt Clinton High School grads.
Speaking of comic book heroes, probably the most iconic name in this genre is Stan Lee who, although born on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was raised in The Bronx. Lee is the genius and co-creator behind iconic names like the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Doctor Strange, the X-Men, Iron Man, and of course Spider-Man. Lee is also a graduate of, you guessed it, DeWitt Clinton.
4. The Thain Family Forest at The New York Botanical Garden is THOUSANDS of years old…in fact, it’s NYC’s largest remaining track of the original forest that once covered the city. (This fact shouldn’t be too surprising considering that The Bronx is the GREENEST borough in NYC with 25% of our land as dedicated parkland.)
5. Coming in at merely 382 square feet, Barnhill Square across from the Kingsbridge Armory is the smallest park in The Bronx.
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6. Van Cortlandt House, at 269 years, is The Bronx’s oldest house located in…Van Cortlandt Park! The mansion is full of history including George Washington leaving it in the final act of the American Revolution on his way to Manhattan to capture New York.
6. 100 years later, the city’s oldest surviving bridge opened. Connecting Westchester County to Manhattan, The High Bridge was constructed to quench the thirst of a growing New York City bringing in water from the Croton Aqueduct.
7. The Bronx is a borough of colleges with 13 colleges and universities which is the ultimate irony considering that, sadly, our borough has the least amount of people with college degrees in NYC.
8. The Third Avenue Business Improvement District at The Hub in Melrose is The Bronx’s oldest shopping district AND the busiest intersection outside of Times Square with over 200,000 pedestrians walking through each day!
9. The Village of Westchester (present day Westchester Square-and shout out to the wonderful folks at The Westchester Square BID!) was the first established colonial village in The Bronx and was also the county seat of Westchester County for a brief period. Oh and by the way, you may have noticed we mentioned Westchester quite a bit when talking about Bronx history and for those of you who don’t know, The Bronx was once part of Westchester County. The West Bronx (west of The Bronx River) was annexed by New York City (then only Manhattan) in 1874 and the rest of what is today’s Bronx came aboard in 1895 a FULL three years before the great consolidation annexed and created today’s modern NYC comprised of 5 boroughs. So yeah, you can say The Bronx was the FIRST borough. In fact, we were a borough before it was cool.
10. But what was The Bronx called after being annexed in 1874? The Annexed District aka the 23rd and 24th wards.
11. According to The Bronx County Historical Society, the Third Avenue El arrived in The Bronx in 1888 connecting us to Manhattan via mass transit.
12. The subway arrived in The Bronx on July 10th, 1905 as the 149th Street and Grand Concourse (then Mott Street Station) and 3rd Avenue and 149th Street station opened connecting it with the IRT White Plains Road Line (now the 2 line) which opened on November 26, 1904.
That’s it for this edition of Bronx Facts and History! Hope you enjoyed it and learned something!
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