A River Runs Through It Riverdale in the Bronx

 When people think of the Bronx, most probably picture an urban landscape of  tenements and commercial buildings surrounded by acres of concrete and asphalt—the image of a leafy suburban enclave is perhaps not the first thing that comes  to mind. That's one of the things that makes the neighborhood known as  Riverdale so special.  

 Bounded on the west by the Hudson River and on the north by the Westchester  County line, with borders extending south to 224th Street and east to Van  Cortlandt Park and the Henry Hudson Parkway, Riverdale's landscape is  characterized by winding streets, hilly terrain, and dramatic rocky  outcroppings along the river. A large portion of the neighborhood has been  designated a greenbelt, with open spaces, public facilities and outdoor  recreational opportunities, and the views of the high, rocky cliffs of the  Palisades and the Hudson River are magnificent.  

 Indeed, not much has changed in the landscape since The WPA Guide to New York  City, published in 1939, described Riverdale this way: "The homes are set along  rambling lanes; on the crests of hills overlooking the Hudson; atop ravines  that lead to the river; amid flower gardens and picturesque rock formations."  

 Thanks to strict zoning regulations, the neighborhood has more or less  maintained its look and character since the WPA Guide was published—but that's not to say the area hasn't borne witness to some interesting changes  over the years.  

 Meadows and Mansions

 In 1786, farmer William Hadley bought the wooded hilly tract that is now  Riverdale as a homestead on which he intended to cultivate and raise livestock.  His near neighbor, Frederick Van Cortlandt, was successfully farming wheat. The  Van Cortlandt House, which was built in 1748, claims the title of the oldest  surviving residence in the Bronx, and is now a museum. George Washington made  it his headquarters several times during the Revolutionary War.  


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