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Marble Hill History

 The Broadway Bridge at West 225th Street

The Broadway Bridge at West 225th Street


5000 Years of Marble Hill History

Marble Hill has been a part of recorded history since the Dutch colonial period. Indian tribes however inhabited the area for more than 5000 years before that. Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch sailed into the river that now bears his name , and briefly dropped anchor on September 6, 1609, at what is today known as Spuyten Duyvil. An altercation with Indians lead to several deaths including one of Hudsons's officers. The "Half Moon" sailed further north up the river and reached the point of present day Albany before turning back and returning to Holland.

A plaque in Inwood Park commerates the exact spot of the Dutch purchase of Manhattan Island in 1624 by Peter Minuit, the Governor of the settlement called New Netherlands at the southern tip of Manhattan. 

On August 18, 1646 Governor Willem Kieft, the Dutch director-general of the New Netherland trading company, signed a land grant to Mattius Jansen van Keulan and Huyck Aertsen. This grant had comprised the whole of the present community. Johannes Verveelen petitioned the Harlem authorities to move his ferry from what is now the East River and 125th Street to the Spuyten Duyvil Creek because the creek was shallow enough to wade across, thus evading paying the toll. The ferry charter was granted in 1669.

Teunissen Place was named for Tobias Teunissen, a wool washer from Leyden, Holland, who came to the area in 1636.  He applied and received a land grant to live in Inwood near 213th Street. Occasionally he had worked on the De La Montagne farm, which was located in what is now the Harlem section of Manhattan. Teunissen was killed in an Indian raid in 1655, and his wife and child were held hostage until they were ransomed by the Dutch authorities. The Dyckmans and The Nagles, who owned land in Inwood, purchased the Teunissen property in 1677.

Two bridges connected Marble Hill with the mainland. These were the Kings Bridge, constructed in 1693 by Frederick Philipse, and the Dyckman Bridge, constructed in 1759 by Jacobus Dyckman and Benjamin Palmer. The Kings Bridge was built as a toll bridge under Royal Charter for Frederick Philipse. The Dyckman Bridge was constructed as a toll-free bridge for the farmers who refused to pay the toll. Both bridges have been covered over with landfill. At 210 West 230th Street on the southwest corner of Broadway and 230th is a plaque designating the area as the site of the Kings Bridge. Remains of the  Dyckman Free Bridge are still located beneath the grounds of the Marble Hill Houses.

One of the local visiting spots during this period was a tavern operated by the Dyckman family. They had a tavern called the Black Horse Inn, located near McGown’s Pass in what is now Central Park. The Dyckmans sold the Black Horse to finance a new operation on the west side of Broadway and 226th Street, across from what is now 5210 Broadway.   It was situated to cater to the traffic from both bridges.

Recent History

The St. Stephen's Church is a well known Marble Hill landmark. One of its pastors was Reverend William Tieck who served the church from 1946 to 1977. Dr. Tieck was well known as the official Bronx County Historian, in which capacity he served from 1989 to 1996. Reverend Tieck authored several books on the Bronx, one of which is called Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil New York City, A Historical Epitome of the Northwest Bronx, published in 1968.

The IRT Subway was extended from 145th Street to 242nd Street and opened in 1906. The station stop for the IRT at Marble Hill is 225th Street. Metro North has a station in Marble Hill. The station was originally located on the east side of Broadway but was renovated and relocated to the west side of Broadway.

This sparked land speculation in the community, and 6-story apartment houses were constructed. In the early 1950s urban renewal came to the area. A complex was built bounded by Broadway, Exterior Street and 225th Street and was called the Marble Hill Houses. This property was acquired by New York City on August 26, 1948 and the houses were completed in 1952. Part of the acquisition became the Marble Hill Playground, which is located on Marble Hill Avenue between 228th and 230th Streets.

John F. Kennedy High School is located in Marble Hill and was opened in the 1970s. The River Plaza shopping mall, located on 225th Street between Broadway and Exterior Street and overlooking the Harlem River, is the commercial center for Marble Hill. The mall includes a Target and Marshall’s which opened July 25, 2004. An Applebee’s Restaurant and Starbucks serve shoppers. A "strip mall" next to River Plaza houses a Radio Shack, Planet Fitness Health Club, Sprint store, and Payless Shoe Store. Nearby on Broadway is a McDonald's, Subway sandwich shop, and Rite Aid.

Even though it is the mainland part of Manhattan, Marble Hill still enjoys the privileges of the borough. Residents who serve on jury duty are required to go to the distant courthouses at Foley Square in lower Manhattan. The residents enjoy the representation of the offices of City Council District 10 Manhattan as well as the elected officials of Manhattan and the Bronx. Bronx Community Board 8 oversees the day-to-day operations of Marble Hill.