Hawkins Park

City Island Park

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

City Island’s history of European settlement began around 1614, when Adriaen Block claimed the land for the Dutch. Colonists from Europe began to arrive in greater numbers through the 1600s, forcing the local Siwanoy people off the land. In 1655, the Englishman Thomas Pell (ca.1608-1669) came to the island and purchased land from the Siwanoy. Dutch Governor Pieter Stuyvesant tried to eject him, but Pell refused to leave. He was eventually permitted to remain on condition that he swear an oath of allegiance to Dutch rule. The Pell family owned City Island until 1749.

In 1761, Benjamin Palmer purchased the island, known variously as Mulberry, Minniffers, Minneford’s, and Minnewits. He planned to build on his new property a city that could be a commercial rival to Manhattan, and so the name New City Island came into use around 1800. As the island began to develop its own commercial identity, the community of oyster fishers and shipbuilders chose to drop the ‘New’ from their name, to become simply City Island. In 1896, residents of City Island voted to detach themselves from Westchester County and to become part of New York City proper.

The shipbuilding industry on City Island prospered into the 20th century. During the First and Second World Wars, City Island produced minesweepers and tugboats, as well as many of the landing craft used in beach invasions. In the post-war period, yacht production continued to prosper. City Island has produced seven Americas Cup-winning yachts.

A bridge away from the American mainland of the Bronx, City Island has retained a unique small-town, atmosphere frequently compared to that of a New England fishing village. This atmosphere is paradoxically sustained and threatened by the crowds that flock to the island on Friday and Saturday nights. Like many of their fellow maritime towns farther up the coast, City Island residents are trying to strike a balance that will allow the community to prosper without the loss of its individuality.

City Island Park is located on the waterfront between City Island Avenue and Bridge Street. The park features a network of walking paths paved with hexagonal blocks, lampposts, World’s Fair benches, and pipe fencing. One path follows City Island Avenue while another leads to the green area next to the water. Locals and visitors alike are drawn to the several sitting areas facing out over Eastchester Bay.

Park Information

Directions to Hawkins Park

  • Hawkins Park, August 30, 2010
  • Hawkins Park, August 30, 2010
  • Hawkins Park, August 30, 2010



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