Current River Conditions

Natural and Social History

Bronx River Bio-log

Photo Galleries

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

How the Bronx Got Its Name


People often wonder why the Bronx, alone of all New York’s boroughs, has “the” as part of its name. It’s because the borough is named after the Bronx River and the river was named for a man born in far-off Sweden.

In 1639 Jonas Bronck arrived in the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam and purchased from the local Native Americans some 500 acres of land on the east side of the Harlem River below the line of present-day East 150th Street. The area was then known as Ranaqua, or “the End Place,” as it was the southern terminus of an old trailway. Ranaqua soon became known as “Bronck’s Land,” and the Aquahung, or “River of High Places” that lay to its east was dubbed “Bronck’s River.”

Contrary to what you may see in some old history books, there’s no evidence that Bronck built the first water-powered mill on the Bronx River. The flat, marshy banks of the river’s southernmost reach were unsuited to building such a mill, and Bronck had no need to build one anyway – he planned to grow only tobacco in Bronck’s Land.

Jonas Bronck died in 1643, just as conflict between the Dutch and the Native Americans was heating up in the lower Hudson Valley. His widow remarried and moved with her new husband to more peaceful lands near present-day Albany. Bronck’s remaining tenants, frustrated with growing tobacco and nervously eyeing the treeline for Siwanoy warriors, mostly abandoned their farms and dispersed.
Bronck’s Land eventually became known as Morrisania, but the Aquahung held on to its new name, and in time the Bronx River gave its name to a borough, a county, a cocktail and a distinctive cheer.

By S.P. DeVillo. 2008.