Current River Conditions

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List of Native Plants and Animals

Bronx River Stories

Histories

Gators in the Bronx!

The Old Snuff Mill

Jumpin' Jupiter!

The Mile Square

What's an Alewife, Anyway?

Water for Concrete

Paddling Back in the Day

1895 Tragedy in a Bronx River Swimming Hole

William Hart, the Bronx River Cowboy

Cowboys on the Bronx

Brittannia Rule the Bronx

The Old Drovers Inn

Look Out for the Little People!

Happy Birthday Bronx River Alliance

The Witch Canoe

Woodlawn Brook

The Mighty Kensico

The Battle of White Plains

Launching the Golden Ball

The Left Bank of the Bronx

Awaiting the Alewife

The Boltons of Bronxdale

Ann Hanson, the Bronx River Stevedore

Aunt Sarah Held the Bridge

Jerry, the Bronx River Sea Lion

How the Bronx Got Its Name

Lloyd Ultan's History of the Bronx River

The Wishing Rock

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Bronx?

Big Brown Joe Plugs the Pipe

Ungrateful Old Scrooge

Jonas the Peacemaker

Beaver Tales

Why the Beaver?

Bronx River Parkway Reservation

The Pudding Rock

The Rocking Stone

Edgar Allan Poe and the Bronx River

Shipbuilding on the Bronx

The First Canoes on the Bronx

There Were Bears in There

McAdam's Bronx River Driveway

The Mid-Bronx Ride of Paul Revere

The Many Names of Van Nest

The Frozen Water Trade

Colonel Burr Burns the Blockhouse

Beavers on the Bronx

Songs

Greenway Stories

River Restoration Stories

Video

The Many Names of Van Nest

The Bronx River neighborhood of Van Nest has the distinction of having had more nicknames than perhaps any other Bronx community, and not all of them complimentary.

 

While many local train stations are named after their neighborhoods, for Van Nest it was the other way around.  When the New York and New Haven Railroad was being built in the 1800s, the vicinity of Unionport and White Plains Roads looked like a likely spot for a station and depot.  There was at the time no organized community on the site, so a director of the railroad took the opportunity of naming the station after himself.  When a community eventually grew alongside the station, it took the station’s name of Van Nest.

 

Van Nest spread out over the rippling terrain of an old glacial moraine.  Its many low-lying spots were great for collecting rainwater, prompting bespattered travelers to dub the place “Mud West.”  After Van Nest became part of New York City in 1895, the city built embankments across the low spots to bring all the local streets up to an even grade.  This left many houses below street level, and so Mud West now became known as “the Sunken City.”  To this day you can still see many old houses with retrofitted front entrances cut into what originally were their second floors.

 

The old heart of the neighborhood gave it yet another name, “Five Corners,” from the confluence of Unionport and White Plains Roads.  The name of Five Corners in turn became the title of a 1987 film set in the east Bronx, starring Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins, and John Turturro.  Writer John Patrick Shanley, himself nicknamed “the Bard of the Bronx,” based the film on his own youth in Van Nest.

 

Stephen Paul DeVillo