is a small island
approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) long
by .5 mi (1 km) wide. At one time attached to the town of Pelham, Westchester County, it is now part of the New York City borough of
As of the 2000 census
the island had a
population of 4,520. Its land area is 1.023 km² (0.395 sq mi,
or 252.835 acres
). The island is part of
Bronx Community Board
Island is located at the extreme western end of Long Island
Sound, south of Pelham Bay and
east of Eastchester
Bay. The body of water between City Island and the
even smaller (and uninhabited) Hart Island to the east is known as City Island Harbor. The small island
adjacent to the northeast is High Island. Stepping
Stones Lighthouse, marking the main shipping channel into New York,
is off the southern tip of the island, near the Long Island
It is part of the Pelham
, a group of islands originally belonging to Thomas Pell
City Island was created by glacial
at the end of the last ice age
. There is a
layer of bedrock
and then a thick layer of
topped with sand
with topsoil above that. The southern end has deposits of rare blue
clay. The area is strewn with glacial
boulders. Local bedrock is Manhattan schist
with glacial striations
City Island is an urbanized
of a small New England town. The forms of animal life on the island
are typical of such an environment
. Coyotes have also been
The real diversity of wildlife on and around City Island are
, especially aquatic
species. There are many varieties of
, and cormorants
are common, as are
, great blue herons
, great white egrets
, and several types of
. A small protected wetlands area on west
Ditmars Street is home to many of these species. Of course, no list
of urban wildlife would be complete without New York's ubiquitous
Surprisingly, bright green parrots
), originally imported from
as pets, have adapted to
the climate and breed in the wild in New York. They are a common
sight on City Island and in nearby Pelham Bay Park.
Flocks of wild turkeys
are also often seen in the park. A
herd of five or more deer live in Pelham Bay Park but one deer made
a couple of short visits to City Island by crossing the
Another surprising resident of the island is the brown or dekay's snake
. This small serpent
has adapted superbly to live amongst the island's growing
community. Natives often tell stories of encounters with this snake
Originally inhabited by the Siwanoy
Indians, City Island was later settled
by Europeans as part of property and estate bought by English
nobleman, Thomas Pell
, in 1654. Prior to
that, English settlers led by Anne
(seeking religious freedom) settled in an area
nearby on the river (now known as the Hutchinson River) in
After changing hands several times, in 1761 the Island (at that
time known as Minefer's Island), was bought by Benjamin Palmer of
New York. Up to this point the island had been inhabited by only a
few homes and farms. It had a population of about 1000 people, who
tended farms and livestock. Palmer had the vision of developing the
island into a port, which could rival that of New York. He knew
that ships heading north and south passed City Island using Long
Island Sound as a safe inshore waterway. He envisioned shipyards
, and stores that could cater to the
ships. He went as far as to have the island mapped out in different
plots designated as shipyards, docks, business, farms, homes,
schools, and houses of worship, along with streets, paths, and
access routes. Benjamin Palmer appealed to the British Crown and
received a patent that covered the ownership of waterfront
properties 400' out from the high tide mark under water, around the
perimeter of the Island. This patent, known as the "Palmer Grant"
is unique to City Island; it has been contested in courts since,
but has always held up.
Palmer is also responsible for changing the name from Minefer's
Island to City Island in anticipation of things to come. However,
Palmer's vision never fully materialized as the timing just before
the American Revolution
all progress, and the war depleted the capital of Palmer and his
investors. It would be another sixty years before the island again
started to be developed when oystermen, Hell-Gate pilots, and
eventually shipbuilders arrived and introduced these
The history of the island has been chronicled in Tales Of The
by Alice Payne (ISBN 0-9747823-1-9) and City
Island and Orchard Beach (Images Of America)
by Catherine A
Scott (ISBN 0-7385-3546-X)
has the look and feel of a small New England fishing village, with no spot more than a few
minutes walking distance to the water.
Most businesses are
clustered along centrally-located City Island Avenue. There are two
small supermarkets, a gas station, a pharmacy, and a bank, and a
variety of other small shops. The island is most famous for its
restaurants and antique
stores which line both sides of the avenue.
Government services include the City Island Station post office
(10464) and a FDNY
firehouse (Engine 70,
Ladder 53 (pending removal July 1, 2009)). The New York City Police
presence (mostly traffic control on summer weekends)
is provided by the 45th Precinct, located in the mainland Bronx.
Island Branch is possibly the smallest of the New York
Public Library system, even after the recent expansion which
doubled the size of the building.
Houses of worship are Saint Mary's Star of the Sea Holy Roman
Catholic Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, Grace Episcopal
Church, and Temple Beth El.
A local paper, The Island Current
is printed 10 times a
year, and chronicles mostly community issues and local news.
City Island is within the New York City Department
P.S. 175 City Island School, located on City Island Avenue, serves
grades K-8 for the island.
The School of Mary Star of the Sea is a Catholic grade school on
Bridges and transportation
Starting in 1760, a small ferry
powered by a
rope between Rodman's Neck
Island was used to transport people and supplies between the
mainland and City Island. It was not until 1873 that a bridge was
built by a syndicate of City Island businessman including G.W.
Horton, Ben Hedgeman, and David Carll. Then, in 1901, City
Island became connected to the mainland by a new, steel
three-lane City Island
Bridge. There is another small, private bridge on
the northeastern end of City Island which connects it to High
Island, site of the radio transmitter for New York AM
stations WFAN (660) and
WCBS (880); a
security gate prevents access to High Island.
In the early 1900s, the Pelham Park and City Island
provided rail service to the island.
transportation consists of the Bx29 local bus to Bay Plaza via the Pelham
Bay Park subway station and the BxM7B express bus to Manhattan, both run by the MTA.
There is also the City
Island Seaside Trolley
run by the Bronx Tourism Council
. Although the
island was not displayed on previous prints of the Bronx Subway
Map, it is clearly placed on recent prints of the Subway Map.
Local businesses and attractions
The island is famous for its restaurants, with seafood
dining, especially lobster
, being a common specialty. Over 30
eating establishments compete for business, ranging from fast food
(Johnny's Reef) to The Lobster Box to a French bed & breakfast
and a popular spot, The Black Whale, famous for its desserts. The
'Snug' is a popular local Irish pub. While a few of the restaurants
close during the winter months, most are open year round.
City Island Nautical Museum
Local shops include Focal Point Gallery (a gallery of photography),
Starving Artist Cafe & Gallery (featuring musical talents),
Exotiqa International Arts (featuring art objects, gift items and
jewelry from around the world), Early Ruth's Antiques, Midtown
Antiques, My Dolls And Things, and recently-opened (April 9) Calico
Juno Designs, a handcrafted jewelry store where all the jewelry is
handmade on the premises.
The City Island Nautical Museum displays maritime artifacts and
antiques. It is located at 190 Fordham Street and is open only on
Saturday and Sunday afternoons (other times by appointment).
Admission is free, and there is a small gift shop.
The Island has several landmarks like Samuel Pell Mansion on City
Island Avenue near St. Mary Star of the Sea Church. It was where
Arsenic and Old
starring Fred Gwynne
filmed for TV; there are a number of old Victorian mansions
throughout City Island, mostly on the Sound side, complete with
tall pointy spires and gables with gazebos, such as Delmours Point
on Tier Street.
The City Island Theater Group is the local community theater that
produces entertaining shows year round.
City Island as seen from Orchard Beach
in the winter of 2007
Columbia sailors practice at City
The island has four yacht
clubs, all situated
on the Eastchester Bay side of the island.They are, from north to
south, the Harlem Yacht Club, Stuyvesant Yacht Club, City Island
Yacht Club, and Morris Yacht and Beach Club. The Touring Kayak
Club is on the west side of the island. There
are two active sail lofts (Ulmer-Kolius and Doyle). The island also
has several commercial marinas
. The island
has what are called "special anchorages" where boats of all sizes
are freely moored or anchored, and there are many docks with boat
slips for mooring boats in a secure and restricted way. There are
also many large piers around the island that can receive large
The island is home to the Columbia University Sailing Team, whose
fleet of dinghies is docked at City Island Yacht Club. The team
comes from Manhattan to practice off the western shore of City
Island three times a week. Fordham University's Sailing Team sails
out of Morris Yacht and Beach Club.
In the novel Bluebeard
by Kurt Vonnegut
, the character Dan
Gregory states that his yacht, the Ararat, was dry-docked on City
Many of the boats which competed and won in the America's Cup
in years past were built in The
Minneford Boat Yard on City Island. The Eastchester Bay Yacht
is the major organizer for sailboat races in
the area. J/24
sailboats are the active one
design racing fleet on the island.
fleet of head boats (The Island Current, the RipTide III,
and the North Star III) take paying passengers on fishing trips to
One can also rent smaller boats by the day.
The sail and power boating industry has been declining in recent
years as boatyards are being sold and being turned into condominiums
City Island has earned the nickname "Cinema Island" for the
numerous films, television shows, and commercials that have been
shot there. Films include BUtterfield
, Long Day's Journey
(Robert De Niro
and Robin Williams
), Love Is All There Is
and Angelina Jolie
), and A Bronx Tale
(Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri
), which featured the City
Island Bridge and one scene which was filmed in the parking lot of
Johnny's Reef Restaurant
.Michael Douglas filmed Don't Say a Word
at the Hart Island Ferry
and Hart Island. Wes Anderson's The
was filmed at Delmours Point which is the
mansion where Long Days Journey Into Night was filmed.City Island
was also the setting for the 2006 film The Groomsmen
which was directed by
; filming took place at
many locations on City Island.In 2006 "Margot at the Wedding
and Ciarán Hinds
was filmed on City Island
Avenue and other locations on the island.
In 2008 actor Michael Douglas
returned to Cinema Island to film with actor Danny De Vito
to film "Solitary Man (2009)" in
the City Island Diner and Jessica Alba was filmed in "An Invisible
Sign of My Own (2009)" there as well.
A very early film shot in a City Island studio was Richard
, made in 1912.
Television series that were filmed on the island include the
classic Coronet Blue
, Car 54, Where Are You?
recently, an episode of Law & Order: Criminal
called "Sound Bodies" which was based on a
real-life story of several local teenagers who drowned in Long
Island Sound near City Island. Also the "Law and Order" episode of
"Maritime" showing the City Island bridge.
Since 2002, the film production company Harrington Talents has had
its offices and studio located on City Island. Notable celebrities
who have worked on their productions include rapper/actor Ice-T
, professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino
. They also shot many
scenes from their movie Doughboys starring Louis Lombardi, Vincent
Pastore, Andrew Keengan, Mike Star and James Madio. The company is
owned and operated by Frank Mosca, Stephen Franciosa Jr. and John
Morena. Also this summer of 2008, MVT’S Made crew will be taping on
hand at City Island, Bronx for James Gisante. He will be made into
a ladies man. James lives on City Island.
In March 2009, during filming of the final episode of Life On Mars
on City Island Avenue, angry
local residents began to complain about how filming disrupts their
lives. Filmmakers did not coordinate their filming with the
community making many merchants upset. Businesses that were badly
hurt due to the bad economy, lost business for two days and were
not compensated for their losses. Parking rules became chaotic.
Handicapped people were made to walk two blocks to the cars that
dropped them off at the market or drugstore. Community Board 10 may
now enact new rules restricting filming to lessen the hard impact
that continued filming causes. Meetings between the City Island
Civic Association and local politicians are planned.
Notable current and former residents of the island include:
- Harry Carey (1878-1947), one of
silent film's earliest superstars.
- Adolfo Carrión, Jr.
(born 1961), former Bronx Borough
- Bruce McRae (1867-1927), silent film
- George Meany (1894-1980), union
leader who served as president of the AFL-CIO.
- Vincent Pastore (born 1946),
actor known for his role on the TV series The Sopranos.
- Carlos D. Ramirez (1946-1999), publisher of
El Diario La
- Oliver Sacks (born 1933), who wrote
the book Awakenings,
whose adaptation was filmed at a house similar to his own but on a
different street on the island.
- Salvatore Santoro (1913-2000),
Lucchese crime family underboss.
- Richard Waring (1911-1994), TV
and film actor.
- Warren Weith, columnist for Car
and Driver in the 1960s and 1970s.
- , United States Census
- On location
- BUtterfield 8 filming locations
- Long Day's Journey Into Night filming
- Awakenings filming locations
- Love Is All There Is filming locations
- A Bronx Tale filming locations
- The Groomsmen filming locations
- Richard III filming location
- Car 54, Where Are You? (tv show) filming
- Berger, Meyer. "ABOUT NEW YORK", The New York
Times, May 7, 1940. Accessed October 15, 2009. "Harry
Carey's description of City Island when he was a boy in the
Eighties made a hoarse and mildly profane pastorale."
- Pickert, Kate; and Jame, Randy "Urban Policy Director Adolfo Carrion",
Time , February 20, 2009. Accessed
October 15, 2009. "Is 47 and married to a lawyer. They have three
daughters and a son and live on City Island in the Bronx."
"HEARING ON THEATRE ENDS.; Federal Trade Board Gets Data In Case of
Western Movie Groups."], The New York Times, August 24,
1927. Accessed October 16, 2009. "Bruce McRae, actor, who died at
his home at City Island on May 7, left an estate appraised
yesterday at $237858 gross..."
- Today in Labor History Archives, BigLabor.com.
Accessed October 16, 2009. "August 16: George Meany, plumber,
founding AFL-CIO president, born in City Island, Bronx - 1894"
- Kappstatter, Bob. "Bronx spotlight on Vincent Pastore",
Daily News , January 22, 2008.
Accessed October 15, 2009. "Vincent Pastore does not sleep with the
fishes. He does, however, live close to them, on City Island."
- Ravo, Nick. "Carlos D. Ramirez, 52, Publisher of El
Diario", The New York Times, July 13, 1999.
Accessed October 9, 2009.
- Golden, Tim. "Bronx Doctor Has Best Seller, Hit Movie and No
Job", The New York Times, February 16,
1991. Accessed October 15, 2009. "Four white lab coats were known
to be somewhere around his red-shingled house on City Island in the
Bronx, just not anywhere in particular."
- Mckelvey, Gerald; and Hurtado, Patricia. "Mob's Commission Is Guilty on All Counts Family
Heads Facing Heavy Prisons Terms", Newsday, November 20, 1986. Accessed
October 16, 2009. "...underboss Salvatore Santoro, 71, of 90 City
Island Ave., Bronx..."
Maps and charts
- City Island & Orchard Beach (ISBN 0-7385-3546-X)
- The Other Islands Of New York City (ISBN 0-88150-502-1)
- East Bronx, East Of The Bronx River (ISBN 0-7385-0301-0)
of the Clamdiggers (ISBN 0-9747823-1-9)