The downtown architecture along City Island Avenue. Shown here a 5-story building constructed in 1898 that was the island’s tallest building until 1960. Photo by JosephA/Flickr.
City Island – even to New York locals – feels idyllic, a world away from the commercial and cultural hub we tend to envision when we think of “the city.” The small town getaway and resort, located in the northeastern corner of the Bronx, is considered by some to be one of its best kept secrets. Its charm may lie in the fact that it gives off a nautical vibe: you’ll notice the standing boats and the abundance of seafood restaurants available. Or maybe it’s just that the rent is actually affordable. Whatever the reason, City Island has piqued our interest.
Here are 10 secrets about this quaint, waterfront neighborhood:
10. City Island Was Meant to Rival Manhattan’s Commercial Center
In 1654, Englishman Thomas Pell purchased a 9,166-acre tract of land, which included what is now City Island, from the Siwanoy Minneford Indians. Between 1700 and 1761, City Island – known at the time as Minnewit, Mulberry, or Great Minnefords Island – was sold several times before it was purchased by Benjamin Palmer in 1761. Envisioning a bustling port city, Palmer intended to transform Great Minnefords Island into a commercial center that would rival that of Manhattan’s. To honor the developmental phase that was to come, the property was renamed New City Island. However, as the island began to acquire its own commercial identity – largely due to the community of oyster fishers and shipbuilders –”New” was eventually dropped from the name.