Plan for the Bronx Waterfront, a part of New York
City's Comprehensive Waterfront Plan issued in
August 1992, presents detailed studies of the
borough's four reaches, or waterfront study areas.
Bronx waterfront is highly varied in both physical
character and land use, reflecting the distinct
qualities of the different water bodies in and
around the borough. To the west, the Hudson River
forms a wide majestic valley overlooked by one
of the city's most impressive natural districts.
At Spuyten Duyvil, the Hudson meets the Harlem
River which runs in a narrow valley spanned by
a series of landmark bridges between upper Manhattan
and the Bronx. Upland uses on the Bronx side of
the Harlem River include one of the city's premier
state parks, the Bronx Community College with
its landmark Hall of Fame for Great Americans,
Yankee Stadium, and a variety of residential and
industrial uses. The very narrow Bronx Kill, between
the South Bronx and Randall's Island, empties
into the wide expanse of the East River which
is dotted by North and South Brother islands.
The upland contains the largest industrial zone
in the city. Bisecting the borough, the Bronx
River starts in the north as a narrow stream etched
in a deep valley and broadens to a wide river
as it approaches the East River. The river runs
along the country's first "parkway",
through a botanical and a zoological garden, and
through an industrial zone. East of the Bronx
River, the shoreline touches the East River, the
heads of Westchester Creek and the Hutchinson
River, Eastchester Bay, and Long Island Sound
where City Island and Hart Island are located.
Access to the sea and the availability of inland
routes determined the location and nature of many
of the borough's earliest developments. For example,
construction in 1693 of the first bridge from
Manhattan -- the King's Bridge -- spurred development
of Kingsbridge, one of the earliest settlements
in the borough. Fishing and boat building were
perhaps the earliest uses, particularly along
the Harlem River and on City Island. The later
addition of rail lines along the Harlem River
and the southern shore led to the development
of Port Morris and Hunts Point as major maritime
and industrial areas.
scenic beauty along much of the Bronx waterfront
created ideal settings for recreational uses dating
back a century or more. During the 1800s, elegant
hotels and parks were built along both sides of
the Harlem River and a steam boat ran excursions
from Manhattan on weekends. The river became one
of the country's leading rowing centers, boasting
more than a dozen elaborate boat houses by the
end of the 19th century. In the eastern Bronx
and on City Island, summer residential colonies
and marinas developed around the early fishing
and boat building villages. Summer residences
were later converted to year-round housing and
low-rise suburban style developments soon followed.
In the western part of the Bronx, residential
estates like Wave Hill began to spring up along
the shores of the Hudson River from the early
1800s, and development of large apartment houses
followed construction of subway lines along the
Harlem River early in this century.
uses in the Bronx continue to evolve today, presenting
new opportunities to preserve natural conditions,
provide greater public access, and increase the
borough's employment base and housing supply.
Comprehensive Waterfront Plan designates the eastern
part of the borough along the Upper East River
as one of the city's three Special Natural Waterfront
Areas where preservation of natural coastal resources
is the paramount goal. Adding further protection
to the borough's natural waterfront, the state
has designated the lower Hudson River, including
the mouth of the Harlem River and North and South
Brother islands, and the Pelham Bay Park wetlands
as Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats.
achieve the comprehensive plan's public access
goals for the Bronx, the reach studies that follow
identify numerous opportunities to connect residents
to their waterfronts, particularly in those areas
that presently have little, if any, waterfront
access. The wealth of existing public waterfront
parks in the Bronx tends to be concentrated in
the eastern and northwestern parts of the borough
where population densities are relativelylow.
Public open space along the waterfront is much
more limited in areas with the highest population
densities. Consequently, the plan places major
emphasis on promoting public access in the more
under-served parts of the Bronx, although new
or expanded public access opportunities are proposed
throughout the borough. In addition, an 80-mile
greenway/bikeway system planned for the entire
borough would greatly expand access to the waterfront.
The plan recommends more than doubling the existing
waterfront pathways for the exclusive use of pedestrians
and cyclists. Nearly half of the greenway/bikeway
system would be close to the borough's coast along
waterfront access ways and nearby local streets.
the working waterfront, some areas, like those
along the northern Harlem River, have lost much
of their viability; others, like Port Morris,
remain vital and offer promise for greater development.
A rail-to-truck transfer facility being developed
in the former Harlem River Yard is expected to
become a major generator of new industrial uses.
The new Oak Point rail link, which will serve
both the Harlem River Yard and the Hunts Point
market and peninsula, will improve a rail-freight
connection between New York and points north and
the citywide criteria for identifying potential
waterfront redevelopment sites to the Bronx, the
plan recommends that approximately 40 acres on
six vacant or underutilized sites be redeveloped
for residential or mixed use. Four of the sites
are in manufacturing districts and would require
rezoning to permit housing development. All would
incorporate public open spaces at the shoreline.
to the Borough Waterfront Overview Page