One of the most interesting things about local folklore is that you sometimes find in it buried memories of past history.An example of this is the Bronx River’s Wishing Rock.
Although it became New York City’s eastern boundary in 1874, the Bronx River already had a long history as a political demarcation line.Before the land was divided into townships, wards, and counties, the river, then known as the Aquahung, served as the frontier between two tribes of Native Americans.The Weekguasegeecks lived west of the river, while the Siwanoy held the lands to the east.
The Wishing Rock lay on the bank of the Bronx River in what is now Shoelace Park.Set in a grove of willow trees, it was said that it had once been the meeting place for a young Native American woman and her lover from the opposite side of the river.Despite being of different tribes, their love deepened and eventually they eloped.With this legend in mind, courting couples from the village of Wakefield would rendezvous at the Wishing Rock to talk of their hopes for the future, and perhaps do a bit more.
The legend died out around the time of the Civil War, and the old Wishing Rock may be the one that lies just below the stone bridge connecting Bronx Boulevard with the Bronx River Parkway at East 229th Street.Today all but completely buried beneath a riverbank restoration project, the rock nevertheless had been a rendezvous for neighborhood kids into the 1970s.
Stephen Paul DeVillo