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NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 22, 1913
A FASHIONABLE SUBURBAN SECTION
Current Developments at Spuyten Duyvil, Riverdale and Van Courtlandt—
Educational Schemes—Garden City Landscape For Private Dwellings.
By EDWARD C. DELAFIELD*
THE first historical mention that
we have of the Riverdale section
of the city is by Henry Hudson, who
speaks in his diary of the Indians from
the heights of Nipinichsen coming out
in their canoes to attack the "Half
Moon." The title history begins with
the purchase from the Indians by Dr.
Adrian Van der Donck of all that vast
tract bounded approximately by the
Croton River, the Bronx River, the
Harlem River and the Hudson River,
and confirmed to him by a patent by
Governor Keift in 1645. After Van der
Donck's death, his widow married Hugh
O'Neale, and he and Alias Doughty, her
brother, divided the property by an east
and west line, and transferred the lower
half to William Betts and George Tib¬
bett, and the northerly portion to
Thomas Delaval, Frederick Philips and
This latter portion formed part of the
Philipse Patent and Manor of Philips-
burgh. This east and west line, the
southerly boundary of the manor, ran
the city saw its share of fighting, for
both the .Americans and the British had
their forts at Tibbett's Hill, and on
Valentine Hill, to the easterly, but the
central part of Riverdale was a ground
more for the activity of the so-called
cow boys, who found refuge among the
trees, hills and rocks of the district.
Possibly the best-known action was
when the Stockbridge Indians, after
their defeat by Emery's English chaus-
sers, hid themselves on the steep hill¬
sides, where the cavalry could not fol¬
low them. Although there was no well-
known action of this time, relics of the
old days are still quite frequently found,
such as small cannon balls, rifle bullets
and a few Indian skeletons, besides many
Indian arrow-heads and axe-heads.
The Spuyten Duyvil Section.
The district may be divided into three
sections; the Spuyten Duyvil section,
south of the Fieldston line, the River¬
dale section, north to the valley near
Yonkers, and the Van Cortlandt section
Ewen, Scrymser and Whiting families
were large hslders of realty. When the
Eroadway subway was extended to
Kingsbridge the Spuyten Duyvil hill
section immediately showed the in¬
fluence of the new form of transporta¬
tion. Two private house development
propositions were entered into: .^long-
the-Hudson Company, with its park-
streets, and modern houses overlooking
the river, and the Edge Hill Terrace
Company, with its somewhat smaller
type of house, overlooking the Harlem
valley. New houses were also built by
a number of individuals, and the whole
vicinity now shows prosperity.
The Riverdale Section Proper.
The Riverdale section proper first
consisted of very large country places
and vacant land in conjunction with
them, and the map by M. D. Ripps, of
1853, shows such familiar names as
Schermerhorn, Morton, Morris, Nevin,
Forest, Delafield, Akerman and Van
Cortlandt. Soon after this date a num-
WEST 246TH STREET.
from a point on the Albany postroad,
opposite the parade ground of Van
Cortlandt Park, to a point on the Hud¬
son River some 300 feet south of Dog¬
wood Brook. The line is even now, in
many places, well defined, as it was
marked by a stone wall of immense
boulders, that must have required two
yoke of oxen to move. The property
on both sides of this line was^ again
brought under one ownership by Wil¬
liam Hadley, by deed from James Van
Cortlandt, and by purchase from the
Commissioners of Forfeiture of the
Philipse Manor after the Revolution.
The title to most of the property in the
Riverdale section goes back to this
William Hadley, the Delafield property
coming directly from him in 1829.
During the Revolution this section of
Albro & Lindeberg, Architects.
RESIDEN'CE OF CLAYTON S. COOPER.
♦President Northwestern Bronx Property Own¬
on the easterly slope of the hill. These'
three sections, chiefly on account of
railroad facilities and the contour of the
land, have developed along different
The Spuyten Duyvil section ends to¬
wards the south -with a high bluff over¬
looking the Harlem and Hudson Rivers;
at the head of this bluff stood the old
Tibbett homestead. The owner of this
house, the story goes, had many dis¬
putes with the inhabitants of Manhat¬
tan Island, whose half wild pigs, coming
across the wading place at Kingsbridge,
he branded, by cutting off an entire ear,
thus destroying the former brands.
This section developed very rapidly
during the early days of the Hudson
River Railroad, and many fine homes
were built; the development of the fac¬
tory at the foot of the hill also aided.
In those days the Johnson, Cox, Fuller,
ber of prominent residents of the city,
notably the Babcock, Pyne, Harriman,
Appleton and Morris families, built
their own residences near the new Riv¬
erdale railroad station, which took the
place of the old station at Fieldston.
These families sold a number of smaller
plots to their friends, and the value of
property reached a point where $10,000
an acre was considered reasonable.
Development then stood still, and for
many years the Riverdale sectior^
showed but little progress; even the
construction of the subway had but lit¬
tle effect on the owners of these large
estates until the city threatened to open
city streets through the district on the
old-fashioned method of square blocks.
The Delafield family and others, know¬
ing the sacrifice of property that would
be entailed by this method, through their
own engineers and with tho aid of city