January 30, 1904.
RECORD AND GUIDE
Future of the Kingsbridge District-
iVIarble Hill Improvements
New Traffic Center Appearing
Destiny seems to be writing in a large round hand a future ol
abundant growth for Kingsbridge and its environs. The position
of Kingsbridge is one of importance geographically. Highways,
railways and waterways focus there, for the nature oC things
compel them. In Colonial times Kingsbridge was a rendezvous
for travelers and a shipping point of local consequence. In the
Hevolution it was the most important strategical position in this
region. Battlements frowned from all the surrounding heights;
all the approaches to the bridge were fortified. The hilltops fairly
ecintilate with historic interest, and the landscape is a picture of
beauty unrivaled in New York.
The process of natural selection was certain to look out for
the Kingsbridge district, but latterly circumstances have been
assisting nature, though for a while they seemed to be hindering
it, and some of the people had begun to despair. An old merchant
whose shop narrowly escaped the flames that destroyed half
the business portion three months ago, said this week to a visitor
who was enquiring about the advantages of the place, that he
was bidding it good-bye after a residence of forty years.
"I don't ever expect to see it again," he added. "When I came
it was just a handful of a place; only eight stores, no railroad,
nobody on Marble Hill, but a fine class of old residents in the
neighborhood. Things have conspired against Kingsbridge, and
I'm going to Europe to live. 'However, as I have made half a
million here, I can't complain."
The old man evidently loves his little joke. One of the circum¬
stances that have held the village and suburbs back is represented
by the encircling bands of railroad steel and the trains flying
along them, making seven sireet crossings and cutting off a lot
ot Improvements that otherwise would have come; and the trunk
sewer coming down Broadway at a grade higher than the former
level of the street is bringing some discouragements with its
sanitary conveniences. On the other hand, the improvements
just begun by the New Tork Central Railroad, the construction
of the new rapid transit system through the village, and the
advantages that must eventually accrue from the new ship
canal will yet atone, it is thought, for every deterring influence in
The situation of things is like this: Kingsbridge village is in
the Borough of the Bronx, while the village of Marble Hiil is in
the Borough of Manhattan, the two being separated by Spuyten
Duyvil creek, which is crossed here by two short bridges. On
the south, Marble HIU is cut off from Manhattan Island by the
ship canal, so that it forms an island by itself, upon which about
a hundred dwellings have been erected within the last ten years.
A portion of Pordham Heights" population must also necessarily
participate in ail that concerns the Kingsbridge section; like¬
wise the valley between Washington Heights and the ship canal.
A large part of the Washington Heights section will also be"within
the area which will face toward Marble HiU when the union sta¬
tion is completed there, because if hopes are fuifllied it will be a
station second in importance to the Grand Central depot. To
perform the function assigned to it of being the place for trans¬
ferring the streams of traffic flowing in and out of New Tork,
between the great trunk line and the subway system, the station
should be one of large dimensions.
The progress of the land buying for the Central's improvements
has been reported in a more or less fragmentary manner from
time to time, and an indistinct impression of what the company
proposes to do seems to be abroad. On the authority of Mr.
Richard Alexander, of Marble Hill, who has been the broker in
all the sales, the Record and Guide presents at this time a com¬
plete list of the purchases, included in which are three titles
passed this week. The primary object of the railroad company is
to straighten their line and cut out the wide detour and sharp
curves, and they intend to do this by following along the north
shore of the ship canai. One could lay a straight edge from the
east end of Spuyten Duyvil Cut across the creek and along the
north side of the ship canal to about Bast l!)2d street on the
Bronx side of the Harlem river, and this is the course the new
tracks will follow. But rather than have a drawbridge across
the creek with its attendant dangers and delays, the company
decided to close that part of the creek which windt around Mar¬
ble Hill, after they had bought up all the water rights.
The straightening will save nearly a mile in distance, and no¬
where will the tracks intersect a point of traffic, except at
Broadway, and there it will go under the bridge on v.^hich the
street crosses the ship canai. Right there, on the northeast cor¬
ner of Broadway and the ship canal, the station building will be
erected, and the present plans of the Rapid Transit Commission
contemplate a station one block north of this, at Muscoota street
and Broadway. But the probability of comhining both into a
union station is strong.
When the present tracks of the New Tork. Central through
Kingsbridge shall be dispensed with, the space they take will
be given to the public for their use and benefit. What will be
done with the abandoned portion of Spuyten Duyvil creek has
not yet been determined.
Mr. Ale.Tandor states that the railroad's properties include,
so far, GSS lots, for which nearly $1,500,000 was paid. They are
as follows- Part of the Bailey estate bought from Charles T,
Barney, beginning at East 192d street on the east side of the
river and extending to the Kingsbridge road and Farmers'
Bridge; J. C. Rogers' property, forty lots, on the north side of
the ship canal ly the east side of Broadway; from the E. H.
Landon property, along the east shore of the creek, at its junct-
tion with the canal, 110 lots; the Hugh N. Camp property, 95
lots along the south shore of the creek west of the old bridge;
from G. & W. Thorn, 70 lots, north side of creek, opposite the
Camp property, and fronting 1,300 feet on West 230th street to
Tibbets' brook; from the Fuller & Johnson estate and J. G. John¬
son & Co., 90 lots on the west side of the creek soulh of 230th
street and Riverdale avenue; from the Cox estate a tract of forty
lots south of the last mentioned, and from the Van Cortiandt es¬
tate 25 lots at the southwesterly intersection of tbe creek and the
canal, Mr. Alexander has been assisted in carrying on the nego¬
tiations by A. W, Francis of the offlce of Douglas Robinson.
Charles S, Brown & Co,
Mr. Alexander considers that the district now has a chance to
become better known. As a center for traffic. Marble Hiil should
draw people from both the east and the west sides of the city,
he thinks; It should be fhe most accessible end of the horough,
and in a certain sense it ought to be to the northern end what
the Battery is to the southern.
"I have worked for ten yeai's to bring this about." he said;
"it has made me grey."
Kingsbridge has its Improvement association, with Mr. H. H.
Browne as president and Richard Alexander secretary, which has
been active in advancing the interests of the locality.
Mr. A. O. Whaley, who Is a real estate agent in the village,
considers that a new era Is opening, depending on how soon the
rapid transit will be finished. A lively building movement is
certain to come then, he thinks. Building sit-ss In choice loca¬
tions can be purchased for four or five thousand dollars, reck¬
oning on a frontage of fifty feet and a depth of 100, One plot on
the Ridge, 75x142 feet, is offered for 516,500. Single lots of 25
feet frontage on the Albany road can be secured for .?S0O each.
Pleasant two-story cottages rent for $30, .^35 and $40 a month,
but vac;;.ncies are few. No other section in the city is so underr-
built, in comparison to the requirement, and the present oppor¬
tunities are very favorahle for huilflers.
It was on Marble Hill, at the very northern extremity of Man¬
hattan island, that a fort, latterly called "Fort Prince Charles,"
stood, commanding King's Bridge on the north and Dyckman's
Bridge on the east. On July 4lh, ISIM. a flagpole was raised
there and slill stands, hoping that some day the city will buy the
site for a park. The hill was a favorite camp ground for Indians
in the earliest times, as is attested by the stone implements and
other relics that have been unearthed there. On December 8,
proceedings were inaugurated In the Local Board of the Wash¬
ington Heights District for laying out a park in the tract bounded
by Broadway (Kingsbridge Road), West 21Sth street, and the
Ship Canal, to be known as "Dyckman Park." The situation is
immediately north of the power house of the Metroplitan Rail¬
The New County Hovement.
MAJORITY AND MINORITT REPORTS IN TAXPATERS'
ALLIANCE.-ME. J. CLARENCE DAVIES' PROTESTS.
Opinion Is divided in the Bronx as to the desirability of a
separate county. A special committee of five, which the Tax¬
payers' Alliance appointed to investigate and report, failed to
agree, consequently there was a majority report signed by four
members and a minority report signed by Mr. R. S. Guernsey
alone. The majority report was signed by Messrs, Adolph C.
Hottenroth, J. B. Powers, William Peters and William T. Mat¬
thies. It s:iys in part:
That in so far as the interests represented hy the Taxiiayers'
Alliance is concerned, the erection of said county as proposed in¬
cluding the Borough of the Bronx, would inure to the beneflt of
the property owners and taxpayers of said section of the City of
Tour committee has compared the proportion or amount now
paid in the form of taxes levied on properties therein with the
probable expense or cost entailed by the maintenance of a local
government in such a county, and finds that the government
could be maintained at practically the same cost.
The erection of such a county with its local government would
be of incalculable benefit to the residents in connection with all
the functions which are exercised by a county government.
Ail deeds, mortgages, and other instruments affecting real
estate within the county would be recorded and filed or indexed
at a place more convenient of access lo the inhabitants.
The recent marvelous growth in population and general de-