Bronx River Forest and Bronx River & Bronx River Parkway


Before European settlement, this area was covered with old-growth hardwood trees. Though the trees are only about one hundred years old, this forest recalls that magnificent historic resource. Burke Bridge is a lovely place to experience the forest and the Bronx River. Originally called “Aquehung” or “River of High Bluffs” by the Mohegan Indians, the 23-mile river originates from a small tributary stream in Westchester County and empties into the East River. In 1639, Swedish pioneer Jonas Bronck (1600-1643) purchased 500 acres from the Mohegans, including a large section of the river, which became known as “Bronck’s River.” Thus, the river, and subsequently the borough, got its name. Bronck and other settlers harnessed its energy to power mills, and three of these still exist downstream. The river was very clean before construction of the New York Central Railroad in the 1840s, which created an industrial corridor that polluted the river dramatically. The formation of Bronx Park in 1888 created a buffer in an effort to protect it. In 1925, the 15.5-mile Bronx River Parkway was completed as a pleasure drive and recreation zone, with parks stretching up to the Kensico Dam.