Clason Point, Bronx
Clason Point is a peninsula geographically located in the South Bronx, New York City. The area includes a collection of neighborhoods including: Bronx River, Harding Park, Soundview-Bruckner, and Soundview. The neighborhoods are part of Bronx Community Board 9. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: the Cross-Bronx Expressway to the north, White Plains Road to the east, the East River to the south, and the Bronx River to the west.
Soundview Avenue is the primary thoroughfare through Clason Point. Soundview Avenue once stretched from White Plains Road and O'brien Avenue in Harding Park to Westchester and Morrison Avenues in Soundview-Bruckner before the construction of the Bronx River Parkway. It was then known as Clason's Point Road. The Bruckner Expressway which now bisects the area along the center was once known as Ludlow Avenue.
The local New York City Subway line is the IRT Pelham Line (6 <6> trains), operating along Westchester Avenue. ZIP codes include 10472 and 10473. The area is patrolled by the 43rd Precinct located at 900 Fteley Avenue. NYCHA property in the area is patrolled by PSA 8 at 2794 Randall Avenue in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx.
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The small peninsula of the Bronx defined by the Bronx River, Pugsley's Creek, and the East River is known as Clason (pronounced Clawson) Point. However, it has had several names over the years. In ancient times, the Bronx River area to the West was known to the Siwanoys, who spoke Algonquian, as "Aquahung". The site of a large Native American settlement, comprising more than seventy dwellings, Clason Point was then known to natives as "Snakapins", or "Land By The Two Waters". There was a local and plentiful food source of oak acorn nuts for grinding purposes.
Europeans began settling the region in the early 17th century, and the Cornell family built the first permanent European settlement in the spit of land first known as Snakipins by the Indians. An English settler, Thomas Cornell, began farming here from 1654, for which the area became known as Cornell's Neck. Later the area was known as Clason Point, named after Isaac Clason, a Scottish merchant and a major land owner. Development in the 19th century soon attracted resort seekers and the area became known for its amusements and entertainment. From 1883-1927, it was the site of the Clason Point Military Academy. In the 1640s a series of skirmishes between the Cornells and the Siwanoy, known as the Pig Wars, were led by Chief Wampage, the Siwanoy sachem believed to be the Indian leader who killed Anne Hutchinson and her children in 1643 at Split Rock, now in the northern Bronx. A passing ship rescued the Cornells, and they returned to their home the year after Wampage's last raid. Britisher Thomas Pell arrived at a treaty in 1654 with several Siwanoy sachems, including Wampage, that the Dutch authorities didn't recognize. This disagreement was rendered moot in 1664 when the British fleet appeared in the harbor and the Dutch capitulated.
Clason Point in the early 20th century was an era of trolley cars on the main thoroughfare, Soundview Avenue or, as it was were, Clason Point Road. Clason Point was a mixture of mansions, farmland and plenty of undeveloped fields and swampland. There were ferryboat and steamer excursions from "The Point" to downtown (Manhattan) as well as local service across the East River to College Point, Queens. The last boat to College Point terminated during World War II.The area was then known for dance halls, roller coasters, picnic groves and baseball games, as well as the world's largest saltwater outdoor swimming pool known as "The Inkwell". There was a volunteer fire department,a small airport, docks for sailboats and motorboats, saloons, and novelty shops. The amusement park rides and novelties in the Harding Park area of Clason Point was then known as "The Coney Island of the Bronx". By the middle 19th century Clason Point had many farmhouses, despite its poor drainage. Even today the main shopping area is fairly distant, along Story Avenue, the Bruckner Expressway and White Plains Road. Its seaside location and views attracted seaside resorts, dancehalls and amusement parks in the early 20th Century, served by a ferry from College Point, Queens. Kane's, a major saloon in the Clason Point area in the 1920s, featured Helen Kane, a singer who coined the phrase "Boop-oop-a-doop" and for which cartoon flapper Betty Boop was modeled. After World War II, Kane's became the site for the Shorehaven Beach Club. The club was purchased by Soundview Associates, an investment group including Sylvester Stallone, and was to become the Shorehaven Condominiums, a gated community of 1,183 condominium townhomes.
Until the 1940s, the neighborhood was relatively undeveloped. Most of the residential housing, primarily multi-unit rowhouses and tenement style apartment buildings, had been built near the El on Westchester Avenue and along major streets like Soundview Avenue (once served by a streetcar). In 1941 Clason Point Gardens was the first development constructed by the NYCHA in The Bronx. It was followed by many other low and high-rise NYCHA developments across the neighborhood from the 1950s until the 1970s, which boosted the population significantly. During the 1950s, two controlled-access highways, the Bronx River Parkway and Bruckner Expressway, were constructed. Later in the 1970s, large high-rise rental and co-op apartment complexes flourished across the neighborhood, under the badge of the Mitchell Lama program.
The area began to fall into rapid decay in the 1970s due to white flight, growing poverty rates, and a citywide fiscal crisis. Abandonment was a problem as the exodus picked up pace but much of the White non-Hispanic population was being quickly replaced by poor and working class Latin and African Americans. As a result, abandonment was less extensive than in neighborhoods to the west including Morrisania. The neighborhood was gravely affected by the crack epidemic throughout the late 1980s and early 90s, setting yearly murder totals among the highest in the city. During that time, the Weed and Seed program was put into place by the federal government to improve the situation in Clason Point, nearby Mott Haven, and East New York, Brooklyn and later Operation Impact. Policing methods include NYPD monitored CCTV along known high drug trafficking areas, increased foot presence, and improved statistical mapping.
In more recent years, a citywide housing crisis spurred construction of modern multi-unit row houses and apartment buildings. Many of them are multi zoned for retail and have mixed-income qualifications. There have also been studies conducted to develop this type of housing on vacant land within the confines of NYCHA property along with significant renovations and improvements to existing grounds and buildings. Soundview Park, built on a former landfill and the largest in the South Bronx, has undergone a complete transformation including enhanced pedestrian access and completely renovated and redesigned recreational areas. Future plans in accordance with PlaNYC initiatives will create an urban oasis in this dense community; complete with recreation nodes, Greenway connections, bike/hike trails, designated fishing areas, a boat launch, and esplanades with skyline views. The neighborhood has become increasingly more diverse with a rise in varied Latin American immigration in recent years. Crime has also seen a significant decline as a result of a number of factors including enhanced policing techniques and changing economic demographics.
The infrastructure of the area has not been updated in many years. Many streets flood after periods of heavy rain. The nearest retail strip is almost a mile away. Public transportation is lacking and there are only a few schools in the neighborhood.
- Bronx River: Bronx River is a subsection of Clason Point. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: The Cross-Bronx Expressway to the north, White Plains Road to the east, Westchester Avenue to the south, and the Bronx River to the west. Bronx River includes the Bronx River Houses. The area is usually included in the Soundview section.
- Harding Park: Harding Park is a subsection of Clason Point. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Lacombe Avenue to the north, Pugsley's Creek to the east, the East River to the south, and the Bronx River to the west. Harding Park includes "Little Puerto Rico". The area is also referred to as Clason Point.
- Soundview-Bruckner: Soundview-Bruckner is a subsection of Clason Point. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Westchester Avenue to the north, White Plains Road to the east, the Bruckner Expressway to the south, and the Bronx River to the west. Soundview-Bruckner includes the Bronxdale Houses. The area is usually included in the Soundview section.
- Soundview: Soundview is a subsection of Clason Point. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: the Bruckner Expressway to the north, White Plains Road to the east, Lacombe Avenue to the south, and the Bronx River to the west. Soundview includes Soundview Park as well as multiple low income public housing developments.
There are large, residential housing complexes of various types. These include public housing, high-rise co-ops and rentals. The neighborhood contains one of the highest concentrations of NYCHA projects in the Bronx. There are also 5 and 6 story, pre-war, apartment buildings primarily concentrated along the IRT Pelham Line El on Westchester Avenue and multi-unit row-houses located throughout the neighborhood. Starting in the 1990s, the construction of modern 2 and 3 unit row-houses and apartment buildings have increased the percentage of owners versus renters. The neighborhood's northern and eastern borders have a heavy concentration of commercial establishments. Westchester Avenue evolved into a mixed use, primarily commercial, district serving the greater area after the completion of the elevated IRT Pelham Line. Bruckner Plaza, which greatly expanded throughout the 1990s, contains big box stores like Toys R Us, K Mart, and Old Navy. Other primary thoroughfares contain limited but necessary amenities like supermarkets, pharmacies, barbershops, hair salons, fast food, bodegas, and cheap shops.
Bronx River is largely industrial in usage.
Soundview Park occupies a significant land area in the southwestern section of the neighborhood, with ballfields and playgrounds and a pedestrian/bike greenway along the left bank of the Bronx River estuary from Lafayette Avenue to Leland Avenue.
There are several NYCHA developments:
- 1780 Watson Avenue, one 6-story building.
- 1471 Watson Avenue; one 6-story building.
- Boynton Avenue Rehab; three rehabilitated tenement buildings, either 3 or 6 stories tall.
- Sotomayor Houses; twenty-eight 7-story buildings.
- Bronx River Houses; nine 14-story buildings.
- Bronx River Addition; two buildings, one 6 stories tall another 14 stories tall.
- Clason Point Gardens; forty-five buildings, all 2 stories tall.
- Monroe Houses; twelve buildings, either 8, 14, and 15-stories tall.
- Sack Wern Houses; seven buildings, each 6 stories tall.
- Soundview Houses; thirteen 7-story buildings.
As of the census of 2000, the two census tracts that make up the neighborhood have a population of 5,859. The racial makeup of the neighborhood is 6.53% White, 19.59% African American, and 2.76% from other races. 80.54% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. Over 20% of the population in Harding Park lives under the poverty line. Puerto Ricans account for the largest ethnic group.
Soundview has a population density about 45,000 per square mile (excluding Soundview Park, about 53,000 per square mile). Its total land area is roughly 1.3 square miles. It is racially diverse and has a mixture of moderate single family homes, low income buildings and expensive condominiums. Most buildings in this section has the same requirement as buildings in Co-op City.
- The Clason Point Gardens, located in Soundview, was the first New York City Housing Authority development in the Bronx.
- The Clason's Point Branch of the New York Public Library is located at 1215 Morrison Avenue, just north of Westchester Avenue in Bronx River.
- The Clason Point post office is located at 873 Soundview Avenue just south of Story Avenue in Soundview.
- P.S. 100 in Soundview was named after Isaac Clason.
- Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300055366., p. 239.
- Powell, Bernard W. "Preliminary Report on a Southwestern Connecticut Site", from the Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Connecticut, February 1958. Accessed June 5, 2007. "These Siwanoy, from their name alone, would seem to be coastal members of the Confederacy;27 Skinner felt they were the occupants of the historic village of Snakapins on the East River. This is tentatively linked to the Clasons Point site in the Borough of the Bronx - within easy traveling distance of the IF site."
- Lopate, Phillip. "New York, Brick by Brick", The New York Times, June 18, 2000. Accessed April 6, 2008.
- NYC Parks Soundview Park
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Bronx Community District 9
- Gottlock, Barbara and Wesley; Lost Amusement Parks of New York City; History Press (2013): p. 106-112 w/additional images.