Kingsbridge, The Bronx, New York City
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Kingsbridge is a neighborhood in the Bronx, New York. It is bounded by West 240th Street and Van Cortlandt Park on the north, the Jerome Park Reservoir to the east, Fordham Road and Marble Hill, Manhattan, to the south, and a large hill on the west demarcating Kingsbridge from the Riverdale neighborhood. The border between Marble Hill and Kingsbridge is irregular and largely unmarked. At many points throughout the area, Riverdale and Kingsbridge are connected by a series of "step streets", with stairways of as many as 160 steps built into the hills. Some jokingly refer to Riverdale as the "rich uncle" of Kingsbridge. The neighborhood is also part of a Business improvement district that is home to 200 merchants, which is one of the largest retail shopping districts in The Bronx. River Plaza Shopping Center is located nearby -in Marble Hill, Manhattan - but it is not part of the business improvement district.
The neighborhood is named for The King's Bridge, erected in 1693 by Frederick Philipse a local Lord loyal to the British Monarch. The bridge spanned the now-filled-in Spuytin Duyvil Creek, roughly south-parallel with today's 230th Street. The Kingsbridge carried Boston Post Road, connecting continental America (today's Bronx) with Marble Hill, once part of the Manhattan island, but still today part of the Manhattan borough. The bridge is said to still be in place, having been buried when the creek right-of-way was filled in. The creek water flow was redirected to the the new and deeper shipping canal, south of Marble Hill.
Until the latter part of the 19th century Riverdale, Kingsbridge, and other areas now in the northwest Bronx were part of the Town of Yonkers. (Yonkers still exists today as the City of Yonkers.) The areas that are south of the modern-day New York city line broke off to form the Town of Kingsbridge. Later, the City of New York annexed the western half of the Bronx, taking in the Town of Kingsbridge. As the trains to Manhattan were built in the 20th century, a stop in the northwest Bronx along the Hudson River called Riverdale-on-Hudson was created. This gave rise to the Riverdale neighborhood; the remainder of the old Town of Kingsbridge developed into the modern-day Kingsbridge neighborhood.
Kingsbridge was once a neighborhood made up of predominately Irish immigrants. However beginning from the late seventies up to the millineum, the Irish population (immigrants and their descendants) has decreased significantly. They have been replaced by large numbers of Hispanics, Asians, and Southern Europeans of mainly Greek and Albanian stock. However, the Irish have made tremendous contributions to the development of this neighborhood. As a result, although a lot of the Irish populace has left the neighborhood (they still make a decent presence in the north part of Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights however, and have actually increased in the last couple of years) their legacy remains strong. To find evidence of this legacy one would only have to see the many fine churches and schools that still operate in the neighborhood to this day serving the needs of the new residents. For example, walking through the neighborhood one would immediately notice St. John's Roman Catholic Church located on Kingsbridge avenue near 231st street, and its two schools; the elementary school which is located on Godwin Terrace (just south of 231st street), and the junior high school which is located on Kingsbridge Ave just a block north of 231st. In northern Kingsbridge we have Visitation Roman Catholic Church and School located on West 239th street. For recreation on the weekends, one can go to Gaelic Park which is located on 240th street & Broadway to watch a Gaelic football or a good hurling match and have a few pints after the game. And last but certainly not least, the neighborhood is home to Manhattan College (Jaspers) located on Manhattan College Parkway (W.240th street) where many of the children of these Irish immigrants received excellent Lasallian educations and then left the neighborhood for a new and better life.
Over the past five years, the neighborhood has held two reunions at Manhattan College. The turnout for each reunion was tremendous. For example, former residents of Kingsbridge from all over the U.S. and even from places as far-away as Japan attended.
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