Current River Conditions

Natural and Social History

Photo Galleries

List of Native Plants and Animals

Bronx River Stories


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


Greenway Stories

River Restoration Stories


The Mile Square

One of the more unusual, and today nearly forgotten, Bronx River communities is the old “Mile Square.”

The Mile Square was exactly that – a one square mile tract of land whose east side was the Bronx River, and whose southern boundary stretched west from the river from a point just a few blocks north of Muskrat Cove.

Carved out in 1670 from the patroonship of Adrian Van der Donck (the “Jonk Heer” or “Young Lord” from whom we get the name of “Yonkers”,) the Mile Square became truly a place apart in 1693 when it was exempted from the royal charter that created the manor of Philipsburg. Unlike the tenants of the vast manor that surrounded it on three sides, the small farmers of the Mile Square owned their own land outright. This encouraged an independent outlook that made the Mile Square an especially pro-American community during the Revolution, in contrast to their neighbors whose Loyalist landlord Frederick Philipse compelled them to support the King – or else.

This rebel patch of Westchester was conveniently located for the American forces, as the (original) Mile Square Road was the chief North-South route connecting Kingsbridge with lower Westchester County, and on the east side was Hunts Bridge (at the present-day end of Sherwood Avenue,) which was the first bridge crossing the Bronx River north of Williamsbridge.

American forces occupied the Mile Square on a number of occasions during the war, notably before the battle of White Plains in October, 1776, and again before the battle of Kingsbridge in August 1778. For the Americans the Mile Square was not only a friendly rest stop, but a strategically situated launching point for raids and reconnaissance patrols into the contested area of “the Neutral Ground,” today known as the Bronx.

The Mile Square lost its social and political distinction after the end of the war when the manor of Philipsburg was confiscated from the Tory Philipse family and sold off to individual farmers. It is recalled today by the curiously-named Mile Square Road that still wends its way through southern Yonkers.

Stephen Paul DeVillo