Spuyten Duyvil Creek
Spuyten Duyvil Creek /
The earliest use of the name "Spuyten Duyvil" was in 1653, in a document from Dutch landowner Adriaen van der Donck to the Dutch West India Company. It may be literally translated as "Spouting Devil" or Spuitende Duivel in Dutch; a reference to the strong and wild tidal currents found at that location. It may also be translated as "Spewing Devil" or "Spinning Devil", or more loosely as "Devil's Whirlpool" or "Devil's Spate." Spui is a Dutch word involving outlets for water. Historian Reginald Pelham Bolton, however, argues that the phrase means "sprouting meadow", referring to a fresh-water spring. A folk etymology, "to spite the Devil" or "in spite of the devil", was popularized by a story in Washington Irving's A Knickerbocker's History of New York published in 1809. Set in the 17th Century, the story tells of trumpeter Anthony Van Corlaer summoned by Dutch colonial governor Peter Stuyvesant to warn settlers of a British invasion attempt, with Corlaer attempting to swim across the creek in treacherous conditions.
The local Lenape Native Americans referred to the creek by several names. The first was Shorakapok or Shorackhappok, translated as “the sitting down place” or “the place between the ridges”. A second term, spelled various ways including Paparinemo or Papiriniman, was shared with a triangular island formed by the junction of the creek and Tibbetts Brook in today's Kingsbridge neighborhood. The word has been translated as "place where the stream is shut" or to "parcel out" or "divide". A third name, Muscoota, was also used.
Spuyten Duyvil Creek runs northeast into the Hudson. When the Dutch settlers arrived they found its tidal waters turbulent and difficult to handle. Though its tides raced there was no navigable watercourse joining it with the headwaters of the Harlem River, which flowed in an "S"-shaped course southwest and then north into the East River. Steep cliffs along the Spuyten Duyvil's mouth at the Hudson prevented any bridge there, but upstream it narrowed into a rocky drainage. Prior to the development of the Bronx, the creek was fed by Tibbetts Brook, which begins in Yonkers, Westchester County and intersected with the creek at modern West 230th Street. The brook currently ends above ground within Van Cortlandt Park, emptying into the Harlem River system at the Wards Island Water Pollution Control Plant via underground sewers.
During the 17th Century, the only mode of transportation across the Harlem River was by ferry from the east end of 125th Street. The ferry was established in 1667 and operated by Johannes Verveelen, a local landowner. Many settlers circumvented the toll for the ferry by crossing the creek from northern Marble Hill to modern Kingsbridge, Bronx, a point where it was feasible to wade or swim through the waters. This area was known as the "wading place", and had previously been used by Native Americans. In response, Verveelen had the creek fenced off at the wading place, though travelers simply tore the barrier down. In 1669 Verveelen transplanted his ferry to the northern tip of Marble Hill, at today's Broadway and West 231st Street. In 1693 Frederick Philipse, a Dutch nobleman who had sworn allegiance to the Crown upon the British takeover of Dutch New Netherlands, built the King's Bridge at Marble Hill near what is now West 230th Street in the Bronx. Originally a merchant in New Amsterdam, Philipse had purchased vast landholdings in what was then Westchester County. Granted the title Lord of Philipse Manor, he established a plantation and provisioning depot for his shipping business upriver on the Hudson in present-day Sleepy Hollow. His toll bridge provided access and opened his land to settlement. Later, it carried the Boston Post Road. In 1758, the Free Bridge was erected by Jacob Dyckman, opening on January 1, 1759. Stagecoach service was later established across the span. The new bridge proceeded to take much of the traffic away from the King's Bridge. The Free Bridge was destroyed during the American Revolution. Following the war, Philipse Manor was forfeited to the state legislature, after which the King's Bridge was free.
Harlem River Ship Canal
Over time the channels of the Spuyten Duyvil and Harlem River were joined and widened and additional bridges were constructed, but maritime transit was still difficult and confined to small craft. By 1817, a narrow canal was dug through the south end of Marble Hill at approximately 222nd Street, known as "Boltons' Canal" or "Dyckman Canal".
With the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, and the advent of large steamships in the second half of the 19th century, a broad shipping canal was proposed between the Harlem and Hudson Rivers to allow them thru-transit by bypassing the tight turn up and around Marble Hill. The Harlem Canal Company (then stylized as the "Harlaem Canal Company") was founded in 1826, but did not make any progress towards building a canal. A second company also failed to complete the project. In 1863 the Hudson and Harlem River Canal Company was created, and began the final plans for the canal. The U.S. Congress broke the logjam in 1873 by appropriating money for a survey of the relevant area, following which New York state bought the necessary land and gave it to the federal government. In 1876, the New York State Legislature issued a decree for the construction of the canal. Construction of the Harlem River Ship Canal – officially the United States Ship Canal – finally started in January 1888. The canal would be 400 feet (120 m) in width and have a depth of 15 feet (4.6 m) to 18 feet (5.5 m). It would be cut directly through the rock of Dyckman's Meadow, making a straight course to the Hudson River. The first section of the canal, the cut at Marble Hill, was completed in 1895 and opened on June 17 of that year. Several festivities including parades were held to commemorate the occasion. At this time, Tibbets Brook was diverted into sewer pipes underneath Broadway, with the old right-of-way becoming Tibbett Avenue.
The effect of channeling through what had been West 222nd and 223rd streets was to physically isolate Marble Hill on the Bronx side of the new strait. In 1914 the original creekbed was filled in with rock from the excavation for the foundation of Grand Central Terminal; and the temporary island, comprising present-day Marble Hill, became physically attached to the Bronx, though it remained politically part of the borough of Manhattan, as it is today.
In 1919, New York State passed a bill in order to straighten the western end of the creek feeding into the Hudson. This channel was excavated from 1937 to 1938. The work severed a 13.5-acre peninsula of land from the Bronx, which had housed the Johnson Iron Works foundry. This land was absorbed into Manhattan's Inwood Hill Park, home now to its Nature Center.
Today, Spuyten Duyvil Creek, the Harlem River Ship Canal, and the Harlem River form a continuous channel, referred to collectively as the Harlem River. Broadway Bridge, a combination road and rail lift span, continues to link Marble Hill with Manhattan. There is little evidence that the building of the Ship Canal enhanced commerce in the city.
Three bridges cross the Spuyten Duyvil Creek; from west to east, they are:
- The Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, a railroad swing bridge that carries Amtrak's Empire Corridor line between Penn Station and Albany
- The Henry Hudson Bridge, a steel arch toll bridge that carries the Henry Hudson Parkway (New York State Route 9A)
- Broadway Bridge, a vertical lift bridge carrying vehicular and pedestrian traffic on one level, and the subway on the upper level.
- "Names of Places: General Principles of Place Names". Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York. New York State Legislature. 16 (55–58): 99–107. 1911. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
- Sixteenth Annual Report, 1911, of the American Secneic and Historic Preservation Society to the Legislature of the State of New York , p. 106. American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1911. Accessed November 4, 2015. "Another reason is that there are phonetic elements in the name as first written which suggest other meanings quite appropriate to the locality. There is a Dutch word 'spui' of frequent use in Holland, meaning a sluice way or canal. The Spui at The Hague, part of which is redeemed and used as a street, is a famous thoroughfare."
- "Inwood Hill Park: Spuyten Duyvil Creek". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- McDonald, Rabecca (April 29, 2010). "History of the Name Spuyten Duyvil". New York Public Library. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Stephen Jenkins (1912). The Story of the Bronx from the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day. G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 177–208. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Sypher, Frank J. "Dispute Springs Eternal Over 'Spuyten Duyvil'" (letter to the editor) The New York Times (November 14, 1993)
- Ed Boland Jr. (October 13, 2002). "F.Y.I. – Beating the Devil". The New York Times.
- Baumstone, Hal (January 28, 1988). "Stanford News: Legend or History". Pine Plains Register Herald. Fultonhistory.com. p. 8. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- "TIBBETT GARDENS: PHASE 1A ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT REPORT" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Historical Perspectives. January 30, 1987. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Anderson, Marianne O'Hea (June 1996). Native Americans: Van Cortlandt & Pelham Bay Parks (PDF). New York City Parks Department. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
- "Macomb Landmarks: Acquisitions at Paparinemin, King's Bridge". Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York. J.B. Lyon Company. 29 (62): 136–139. 1918. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
- "Although the river is very narrow, it is deep, and the tide runs rapidly under the bridge, alternately both ways, as the tide ebbs and flows." (Diary, July 5, 1787) in Cutler, William Parker; Cutler, Julia Perkis; Dawes, Ephraim Cutler; and Force, Peter. Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL. D., p. 227. Cincinnati, Ohio: Rovert Clark & Company, 1888.
- "Here we cross the River upon a tall bridge made of wood, the Inn and this bridge belong to the same person...the river is no(t) at all Navigable As there’s abundance of rocks between this bridge and North (Hudson) River." in Birket, James. Some Cursory Remarks Made by James Birket in His Voyage to North America 1750-1751 New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1916.
- Eldredge & Horenstein 2014, pp. 102–103
- Sergey Kadinsky (7 March 2016). Hidden Waters of New York City: A History and Guide to 101 Forgotten Lakes, Ponds, Creeks, and Streams in the Five Boroughs. Countryman Press. pp. 58–59, 247–249. ISBN 978-1-58157-566-8. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- "Van Cortlandt Park: Tibbetts Brook". New York City Parks Department. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Isabel, Angell (February 24, 2016). "Underground brook beckons to activists". Riverdale Press. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Dwyer, Jim (February 16, 2016). "An Underground Brook, Gallons of Sewage and a Century-Old Problem". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- "Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Croton Water Treatment Plant at the Harlem River Site; 7.12: Historic and Archaeological Resources" (PDF). New York City Department of Environmental Protection. June 30, 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- James Thomas Flexner (January 1992). States Dyckman: American Loyalist. Fordham University Press. pp. 12–15. ISBN 978-0-8232-1369-6. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- "Survey of Harlem River From Randall's Island, By Way of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, To Hudson River, New York". Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers to the Secretary of War For The Year 1875. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office: 224–237. February 18, 1875. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Eldredge & Horenstein 2014, p. 102
- Jackson, Nancy Beth (January 26, 2003). "If You're Thinking of Living In/Marble Hill; Tiny Slice of Manhattan on the Mainland". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Eldredge & Horenstein 2014, p. 104
- Eldredge & Horenstein 2014, pp. 103–105
- Harlem River Ship Canal: Letters from Simon Stevens to the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund of the City of New York. C. G. Burgoyne, printer. March 8, 1892. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Eldredge & Horenstein 2014, pp. 104–105
- Eldredge & Horenstein 2014, pp. 102–105
- "Harlem Canal Parades" (PDF). The New York Times. June 17, 1895. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- "Parades Along The Canal: The Details for Harlem's Festal Day Have Been Completed" (PDF). The New York Times. June 16, 1895. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- Duncan, Steve (December 13, 2013). "The forgotten streams of New York". The Week. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- Eldredge & Horenstein 2014, p. 105
- Tax Block & Tax Lot Base Map Files on CD-ROM Archived 2007-08-05 at the Wayback Machine, New York City Department of City Planning. Accessed July 26, 2007. "Marble Hill is a neighborhood that is part of the borough of Manhattan but is administratively often included with neighboring areas of the Bronx. Parts of Marble Hill are within Bronx Community District 7; the rest is within Bronx Community District 8."
- "What's in a Name: While Marble Hill's Origins Are Clear, Its Present Status is Up for Debate". NY1. Retrieved 2015-06-18.
- Randomsky, Rosalie. "If You're Thinking of Living In Spuyten Duyvil; Sunsets Over the Palisades, and Legends" The New York Times (May 29, 1994) Quote: "Most of the peninsula was destroyed by 1937 to widen the Harlem River Ship Canal. The remaining wedge, between a railroad cut and water, became known as the Columbia Rock...."
- Renner, James (September 2005). "Johnson Ironworks Factory". Washington Heights & Inwood Online. Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
- Betts, John H. The Minerals of New York City originally published in Rocks & Minerals magazine, Volume 84, No . 3 pages 204-252 (2009).
- Eldredge, Niles & Horenstein, Sidney (2014). Concrete Jungle: New York City and Our Last Best Hope for a Sustainable Future. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-27015-2.
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