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Pelham Bay Park, located in the northeast corner of the New York Citymarker borough of The Bronxmarker and extending partially into Westchester Countymarker, is at the largest public park in New York City. The section of the park within New York City's borders is more than three times the size of Manhattanmarker's Central Parkmarker. It is operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Overview

About 600 acres (2.4 km²) are tidal, and fluctuate between being walkable and underwater, due to rapid tide changes in the salt marshes and the receding shoreline of Orchard Beachmarker. The park includes land on both sides of the Hutchinson Rivermarker, as well as Hunters Islandmarker, Twin Islandmarker, and Two-Trees Island, all formerly true islands in Pelham Bay and now connected to the mainland by fill. On its north is the village of Pelham Manormarker in Westchester Countymarker. The park borders the Bronx neighborhoods of Country Club, Pelham Baymarker, City Islandmarker, and Co-op Citymarker.

The southern part of Rodman's Neck is not part of the park but is occupied by the NYPD Rodman's Neck Firing Rangemarker. The City Island Bridgemarker connects the park to City Island. A 19th century plantation-style mansion called Bartow-Pell Mansionmarker is a colonial remnant done in Greek revival style. It is a National Historic Landmark.

The lagoon nearby was once part of Pelham Bay and was called LeRoy's Bay in colonial times. The lagoon was widened and dredged when it was chosen as the site of the 1964 Olympic Rowing trials.

At the northeast section of the park is Orchard Beach and a parking lot that were created by Robert Moses as the Riviera of Long Island Sound. One third of Pelham Bay, from which the park got its name, was filled in with landfill to make Orchard Beach. The park is crossed by the New England Thruway, the Hutchinson River Parkway, and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor railroad.

In the southeast section of the park, near the New England Thruway, there are 4 softball/baseball fields, a playground for children, picnic area, tennis courts, a parking lot and several trails for walking/biking/running. Moreover, there is a large running track that was recently renovated. The renovation was part of the New York City 2012 Olympic bid. This track has a bleacher section off to its side and surrounds a grassy area that is used for both soccer games and football games. There are two overpasses that span the New England Thruway and bring parkgoers from the residential area of Pelham Bay directly into this section of the park.

Bicycle paths go to all parts of the park and west to Bronx Parkmarker, east to City Island, and north to Mount Vernon. The park is the home of the Bronx Equestrian Center where visitors can ride horses through the parks' trails, enjoy pony rides or obtain riding lessons.

Landmarks

  • Orchard Beachmarker: a 115 acre, 1.1 mile long beach, the only public beach in the Bronx.
  • The Bartow-Pell Mansion and Museummarker: an elegant example of 19th century architecture.
  • Split Rockmarker: at the Hutchinson River Parkway's intersection with the New England Thruway; legend says that Anne Hutchinson, an early proponent of religious freedom, was killed here.
  • The Bronx Victory Column & Memorial Grovemarker: a 75-foot tall limestone column supporting a statue of Winged Victory, honoring servicemen from the Bronx who lost their lives defending their country.
  • Glover's Rock: a giant rock bearing a bronze plaque commemorating The Battle of Pell's Point during the Revolutionary War.
  • Hunter Islandmarker: a small island, home to the Kazimiroff Nature Trail.
  • Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary: mostly salt marsh; egrets and heron can often be seen.


History

Anne Hutchinson's short-lived dissident colony, along with a number of other unsuccessful settlements, was located in what is now the park's land. The colony, though English, was under Dutch authority; it was destroyed in 1643 by a Siwanoy attack in reprisal for the unrelated massacres carried out under Willem Kieft's direction of the Dutch West India Company's New Amsterdam colony. In 1654 an Englishman named Thomas Pell purchased 50,000 acres (200 km²) from the Siwanoy, land which would become known as Pelham Manor after Charles II's 1666 charter.

During the American Revolutionary War, the land was a buffer between British-held New York City and rebel-held Westchester. As such it was the site of the Battle of Pell's Point, where Massachusettsmarker militia hiding behind stone walls (still visible at one of the park's golf courses) stopped a British advance.

The park was created in 1888, under the auspices of the Bronx Parks Department, and passed to New York City when the part of the Bronx east of the Bronx River was annexed to the city in 1895. Orchard Beach, one of the city's most popular, was created through the efforts of Robert Moses in the 1930s.

In 1941, the NYPD Rodman's Neck Firing Range was created using land from the park.

Wildlife sanctuaries

Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary and the Hunter Island Marine Zoology and Geology Sanctuary consist of a total of 489 acres of marshes and forests within Pelham Bay Park. The City began landfill operations near this area on Tallapoosa Point in Pelham Bay Park in 1963. Plans to expand the landfills in Pelham Bay Park in 1966, which would have created the City’s second-largest refuse disposal site next to Fresh Kills in Staten Islandmarker, were met with widespread community opposition. This struggle resulted in the creation of the sanctuaries by a local law, signed by Mayor John V. Lindsay on October 11, 1967.

The Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary makes up the westerly part of Pelham Bay Park (2,764 acres). Included within its bounds are Goose Creek Marsh and the saltwater wetlands adjoining the Hutchinson River as well as Goose Island, Split Rock, and the oak-hickory forests bordering the Split Rock Golf Course. The area is home to a variety of wildlife including raccoon, egrets, hawks, and coyotes. The Sanctuary is named for Thomas Pell, the first European to control the land.

Located north of Orchard Beach, the Hunter Island Marine Zoology and Geology Sanctuary encompasses all of Twin Islands, Cat Briar Island, Two Trees Island, and the northeastern shoreline of Hunter Islandmarker. It contains many noteworthy geological features including glacial erratics, large boulders that were deposited during the last ice age nearly 15,000 years ago. The rocky coast of Twin Islands, reminiscent of the New England shorefront, is the southernmost outcropping of Hartland Schist, the major bedrock component of such coastlines. The sanctuary supports a unique intertidal marine ecosystem that is rare in New York State.

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