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Impact Timeline

Reclaiming
the Bronx River

Major milestones of the Bronx River restoration from 1970 to present

Before the Bronx was a borough, a Swede named Jonas Bronck (one of the first European settlers in the area) owned a farm next to a river. It was called “Bronck’s river” and later shortened to “Bronx River.”

For millennia before that, the river was called Aquahung, or “river of high bluffs” by the Lenape nation who fished and lived alongside its waters.

These waters once ran silver in the spring as alewife herring made their way back to their home river to spawn. Sadly, these waters were fouled and disregarded over time. However over the past 50 years, our communities have worked hard to restore these waters to life.

This is the story of how a we brought back our urban river.

1970
20 million people across the United States celebrate the first Earth Day on April 22.
1970
1971
Bronx Council on Environmental Quality (BCEQ) is formed. BCEQ remains a nexus of environmental activism in the Bronx, including for the Bronx River.
1971
1972
Clean Water Act is passed by Congress.
1972
1974
Bronx River Restoration is formed by Ruth Anderberg and NYPD Inspector Anthony Bouza.
1974
1975
Bronx Council on Environmental Quality incorporates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
1975
1980
Bronx River Restoration publishes the Bronx River Restoration Master Plan.
1980
1987
Bronx River Art Center founded, later renovated in 2014.
1987
1993
Bronx Borough President Ferndando Ferrer publishes Bronx Greenways Plan. It was updated in 2007 by Bronx Borough President Carrion.
1993
1994
Funding for a pedestrian trail along the Bronx is granted. Funds went to NYS Department of Environmental Conservation from Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).
1994
1997
The Bronx River Working Group emerges from a joint program with City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks. Its purpose was to restore the waterway and educate residents about the unique natural resources in their own backyards.
1997
1998
The Working Group grows to include over 35 organizations and establishes WaterWorks grants, small seed grants for existing community groups to launch new activities on the river.
1998
1999
  • NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern declared 1999 to be “the Year of the Bronx River.”
  • Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (now Waterfront Alliance) presents Bronx River Working Group with a Waterfront Visionary Award
  • First Bronx River Flotilla launched
  • First Golden Ball! This river-long festival celebrated the journey of a golden orb down the length of the river, affirming the connection between the Bronx River neighborhoods.
1999
2000
Together with the Bronx River Working Group, NYC Parks completes the Soundview Park Greenway South.
2000
2001
  • Bronx River Alliance is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by the Bronx River Working Group.
  • Innovations in American Government Award is presented to Partnerships for Parks, recognizing their work on the Bronx River.
  • In the first of many actions to reduce pollution into the Bronx River, NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announces a settlement with the Bronx Zoo to halt the discharge of animal waste into the river (200,000 gallons+/day).
2001
2002
  • NYAG Spitzer announces a settlement with the New York Botanical Garden to stop the illegal discharges of pollutants (as much as 5,000 gallons a day) from its greenhouses into storm drains that flowed directly into the river.
  • The Municipal Art Society’s honors the Bronx River Alliance Greenway Plan with its MASterworks award, for excellence in urban design.
2002
2003 - 2007
Dozens of Bronx community-based organizations receive grants to conduct on-the-ground ecological restoration projects and environmental education activities thanks to a $30M award from Congressman José E. Serrano, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Lower Bronx River Partnership
2003 - 2007
2005
  • New York Parks & Trails presents Bronx River Alliance with Outside the Box Award for unique greenway efforts demonstrating ingenuity and creativity.
  • The American Planning Association (New York Metro Chapter) presents Meritorious Achievement Award to the Bronx River Alliance.
  • NYC Parks and the Alliance complete a $2.9 million capital project to restore the Bronx River’s only floodplain forest. Invasive species are replaced with natives, river banks are reinforced, in-stream habitat structures are added, and the river is reconnected to its historic floodplain.
  • The Bronx River Alliance publishes an updated Bronx River Greenway Plan and Bronx River Ecological Restoration & Management Plan.
  • City of Yonkers is ordered by NYAG Spitzer to stop discharging untreated sewage into the Bronx River.
2005
2006
Yonkers Racing Corporation settles with NYAG’s office to to reduce pollution into the Bronx River.
2006
2007
  • First beaver appears on the Bronx River in over 200 years! It is named “José the Beaver” in honor of Bronx River champion Congressman José E. Serrano. Municipal Art Society presents its annual award to José the Beaver.
  • NY AG Spitzer settles with seven Westchester County cities and towns to reduce pollution into the river and establishes $7M+ Bronx River Watershed Initiative to fund green infrastructure projects. The Watershed Initiative funds dozens of institutions in the Bronx River watershed go on to carry out projects to improve water quality in the Bronx River.
  • Bronx River Alliance is a founding member of S.W.I.M. (Stormwater Infrastructure Matters), a citywide coalition to advance NYC’s sustainable stormwater and green infrastructure planning and policy. The Alliance has remained a steering committee member since its formation.
2007
2008
  • NYC Parks and the Bronx River Alliance complete a $3.3 million transformation of an abandoned street-end into the first waterfront park in Hunts Point in over 60 years. Hunts Point Riverside Park subsequently wins the national Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence silver medal.
  • NYC Parks and Bronx River Alliance completes $1.5 million capital overhaul of Muskrat Cove.
2008
2009
NYC Parks and Bronx River Alliance complete $10 million transformation of an abandoned concrete plant in the South Bronx into a new waterfront park. Now known as Concrete Plant Park, it won the following awards:
  • Excellence in Design Award presented by the NYC Public Design Commission (2010).
  • MASterwork Award, the Municipal Art Society’s honors for excellence in urban design.
  • Designing the Parks Award presented by the National Parks Service
2009
2010
  • NYC publishes its first-ever Green Infrastructure Plan, responding to the advocacy of Bronx River Alliance and other S.W.I.M.-member organizations.
  • 50,000 oysters bedded in Soundview Park oyster reef.
  • Publication of Bronx River Intermunicipal Watershed Plan.
  • Shoelace Master Plan published, subsequently winning the following awards:
    - Honor Award presented by The Waterfront Center.
    - Award from ASLA’s New Jersey chapter.
    - Waterfront Planning Award presented by The Waterfront Center.
    - ASLA’s New York chapter.
    - Design Commission Award presented by the NYC Design Commission.
  • Entrances to the park subsequently implemented at 211th St, 219th St, and 222nd St, as well as improvements to 233rd St connection. (Total of $XX million)
2010
2011
  • Soundview Park Field House opened.
  • Soundview Park Greenway North opened.
  • EPA Environmental Quality Award presented to the Bronx River Alliance.
  • Designing the Parks Award presented by the National Parks Service to Concrete Plant Park.
2011
2012
  • Soundview Park Salt Marsh restoration completed
  • Lower eight miles of the Bronx River designated a National Water Trail by the National Park Service
  • Large rain garden pilot in Shoelace Park launched at opening E 224th St
  • The Native Plant Society of North America presents Bronx River Alliance with a Paul McGaw Memorial Conservation Award
2012
2013
  • Starlight Park, Phase 1 completed.
  • Bronx Park connector opened.
  • US EPA Region 2 Environmental Quality Award presented to Bronx River Alliance Executive Director Linda Cox.
2013
2014
Bronx River Alliance receives “ACA Stroke of Achievement Award” from the American Canoe Association.
2014
2015
2015
2017
  • Foodway, NYC’s first sustainable food landscape, installed at Concrete Plant Park.
  • Recognizing the achievements made in cleaning and restoring the Bronx River, the Alliance and NYC Parks received the 2017 “Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award.”
2017
2019
  • Sheridan Expressway converted to boulevard, opening up access to river and Starlight Park for communities to the west.
  • Starlight Park pedestrian bridge installed by River House.
2019
Bronx River House
2020
2020

By the Numbers

Over 20 years we’ve accomplished a lot!

0 +
Volunteers engaged
0
Acres of parkland resotred
$ 0 M
Funds raised for Greenway capital projects
0
Acres of new parkland created

Future Projects

Shoelace Park Link Project

Anticipated completion: 2021
$3.65M


Starlight Park Comfort Station

Anticipated completion: 2022
$3.215 M


Starlight Park Phase 2, Stage 2

Anticipated completion: 2022
$35M