Hunter Island, New York
View from Hunter Island (foreground) towards Glen Island in New Rochelle, New York
|Location||Long Island Sound|
|Area||250 km2 (97 sq mi)|
|City||New York City|
Hunter Island is a part of Pelham Bay Park in the New York City borough of the Bronx. It is located along Long Island Sound, adjacent to the New York City and Westchester County border. It was formerly an island, but has been connected to the mainland by infill. It was part of the Pelham Islands, the historical name for a group of islands in western Long Island Sound that once belonged to Thomas Pell, Lord of Pelham Manor.
Hunter Island bears the name of former owner John Hunter, a successful businessman and politician, who purchased the property in 1804. Hunter's residence and gardens were constructed and landscaped at great cost. The Mansion was built in the English Georgian style, similar to that of the old City Hall of New York City, and was described as one of the finest mansions of the period. It held a vast art collection of valuable art by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyke and Rafael. The home was situated at the highest point on the island (90 feet above sea level) and had wonderful views of Long Island Sound to the east and the hills and woodlands of the Town of Pelham to the north. Terraced gardens flanked the home and continued down to the waterfront. A stone causeway and bridge were also constructed, connecting the island to the mainland. John Hunter lived in the home for more than forty years until his death in 1852.
The City of New York purchased the island in 1889. In 1937, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses decided to dredge the sand of the Rockaways to fill LeRoy’s Bay during the construction of Orchard Beach. The Hunter Mansion, which had fallen into disrepair, was also destroyed during construction. When the massive project was finished, Hunter Island was connected to nearby Twin Island and Rodman's Neck, becoming part of Pelham Bay Park, originally designated parkland in 1888. The newly created land mass resulted in a one-mile crescent beach, a 6,800-car parking lot, a pavilion, bathhouse complex, and promenades.
In 1967, Hunter Island was declared the 'Hunter Island Marine Zoology and Geology Sanctuary' by local law. The land holds the largest continuous oak forest in Pelham Bay Park, including white, red, and black oak, as well as black cherry, white pines, Norway spruce, and black locust trees. One can also find traces of John Hunter’s estate garden, which held grape hyacinth, periwinkle, daylily, and Tartarian honeysuckle. Much of the island’s natural features are found along the Kazimiroff Nature Trail, named in 1985 for Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff, a Bronx historian and champion of wetlands preservation.