Van Cortlandt Park

Kingsbridge Green

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Kingsbridge Green, like the nearby neighborhood, is named for the first bridge to connect Manhattan to the mainland. Frederick Philipse constructed the King’s Bridge in 1693 and he charged high tolls for the use of the bridge. Benjamin Palmer and Jacob Dyckman built a second bridge in 1759 to avoid paying the high tolls charged by Philipse. During his retreat from the battle of Harlem Heights in 1776, General George Washington used both the King’s Bridge and Freebridge to escape to White Plains. Kingsbridge Avenue, which ran north from the King’s Bridge, was also an essential artery during the Revolutionary War.

Farmers inhabited the region around Kingsbridge until the 1850s and 1860s when industry and railroads extended north from New York City. The Johnson Iron Foundry, near Spuytin Duyvil Creek at the northernmost tip of Manhattan, built munitions for the Union Army during the Civil War and many Irish laborers working on the Hudson River Railroad chose to settle in Kingsbridge. The 1908 extension of the Interborough Rapid Transit system brought a new wave of migration and in 1916 the Spuytin Duyvil Creek was filled in and the King’s Bridge taken down. The Kingsbridge Historical Society has preserved some of the original span from a 1960 excavation under Marble Hill Avenue between West 228th and West 230th Streets.

Kingsbridge Green is located at the southwest corner of Van Cortlandt Park, at the intersection of Broadway and Van Cortlandt Park South. The Wiechquaskeck Lenapes Native American tribe occupied this site in 1639 when the Dutch East India Company brought the first European settlers to the Bronx. In 1646 Dutchman Adriaen Van Der Donck (1620-1655) became the first single owner of what is now Van Cortlandt Park. Jacobus Van Cortlandt bought the property in 1699 and his son Frederick built the Van Cortlandt Mansion in 1748. The family occupied the land until the 1880s. The City of New York acquired this parkland in 1888 but did not name it in honor of its long-time residents until 1913. With facilities for football, baseball, softball, soccer, cricket, tennis, golf, swimming, horseback riding, running, and hiking Van Cortlandt Park is one of the City’s most popular parks.

Kingsbridge Green was an asphalt baseball field until a $1,424,686 renovation brought in grass, shrubbery, benches, play equipment with safety surfacing, a flagpole with a yardarm, and a statue of a coyote. Council Member June M. Eisland provided the funds for the renovation, which was completed in 1998. Parks erected the coyote statue to commemorate the sighting of a female coyote on the Major Deegan Expressway on February 9, 1995.

Directions to Van Cortlandt Park

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