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The Bronx River, approximately 24 miles (38 km) long, flows through southeast New York in the United States. Its Native American name was the Aquahung before the arrival of European colonists, like Jonas Bronck, for whom the Bronx and its river are named, in 1639.
It rises in the Kensico Reservoir, in Westchester County north of New York City. It flows south past White Plains, then south-southwest through the northern suburbs, passing Edgemont, Tuckahoe, Eastchester, Westchester County, New York, and Bronxville. It divides Yonkers from Mount Vernon, and flows into the northern end of The Bronx, southward through Bronx Park and through urbanized areas of the Bronx. It empties into the East River, a tidal strait connected to Long Island Sound, between the Soundview and Hunts Point neighborhoods.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the river became a natural sewer into which industrial waste was being poured every day. An early mill on the industrialized river was the Lorillard Tobacco Mill, preserved in the grounds of the New York Botanical Gardens. With the decline of manufacturing in the area, the river continued to receive effluent from the communities that lined its banks. Recently action has been taken by different environmental groups, including the Bronx River Alliance, to return the river to its original state as a clean waterway. The river became a pet project of U.S. Representative José Serrano, who secured US$14.6 million in federal funding to support the rehabilitation of the waterway, into which some Westchester towns continued to discharge raw sewage intermittently, in storm drain overflow, as late as 2006; under a 28 November 2006 agreement the municipalities of Scarsdale, White Plains, Mount Vernon and Greenburgh agreed to stop dumping sewage in the Bronx River by 1 May 2007. Local Alewife, from a coastal tributary in nearby Connecticut, were released in the river in March 2006. The alewife were expected to spawn in the river's headwaters. Their offspring would spend the summer in the river, migrate out to sea in the fall, and in three to five years return, like all anadromous fishes, to their spawning grounds. Stocking was intended to be repeated annually for the following five years, to build up the new resident population. The fishes, among a group called "river herring", feed low on the food-chain and help reduce eutrophication.
Along much of its length in Westchester County and the northern Bronx the river is paralleled by the Bronx River Parkway and its associated bicycle path from Bronxville to the Kensico Dam plaza. A project, the Bronx River Greenway, proposes a unified management plan for the narrow ribbon of riverside green spaces in the eight-mile stretch of river that passes through Westchester County and The Bronx, as part of the East Coast Greenway.
In the southern Bronx, the river has become a popular destination for urban canoeing in New York City. It also bisects the Bronx Zoo. A tram built in the late 20th century takes Zoo customers over the river to an exhibit of Asian animals on the left bank, with a narration presenting the river as the Irrawaddy.
In February 2007 biologists with the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the Zoo, spotted a beaver in the river. "There has not been a sighting of a beaver lodge or a beaver in New York City for over 200 years. It sounds fantastic, but one of the messages that comes out of this is if you give wildlife a chance it will come back," said John Calvelli, a spokesman for the Society.
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