Pelham Bay Park

Kazimiroff Nature Trail

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

This nature trail honors Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff (1914-1980). A dentist by profession, Kazimiroff is most remembered for his dedication to the fight for the protection of the delicate ecosystems that still thrive in the Bronx.

Born in the Bronx on May 22, 1914, Kazimiroff graduated from Manhattan College in 1936 and New York University in 1940, going on to practice and teach dentistry. He and his wife Emelia raised two children, Julie and Theodore, Jr. As the official historian of the Bronx, he co-founded the Bronx County Historical Society in 1955 and fought to save the historic Valentine-Varian House on Bainbridge Avenue from demolition. Kazimiroff also served as a consultant to the Museum of the American Indian, the Bronx Zoo, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Kazimiroff dedicated much of his work to the exploration and preservation of Pelham Bay Park. He was instrumental in protecting Split Rock (a large glacial boulder in the northwest corner of Pelham Bay) from destruction during the extension of the New England Thruway in 1962. Split Rock has since been designated a historical landmark. He also lent his expertise to the battle against landfill in Pelham Bay Park, which would have destroyed fragile wetlands that host a vast ecological system. The efforts of a coalition of City Island residents, community activists, and environmentalists led to the designation of the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary and the Hunter Island Marine Zoology and Geology Sanctuary in 1967. Kazimiroff died on March 19, 1980.  In May 1981, a section of Southern Boulevard from Fordham Road to Allerton Avenue was renamed the Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff Boulevard by local law.

The Kazimiroff Nature Trail reveals much of the natural beauty of Hunter Island. One can see trees such as the tall Norway spruce and the white pines that provide a habitat for great horned owls. The remnants of the Hunter Mansion garden, as well as fragments of the mansion house foundation and stone walls, are reminders of the large estates that once dotted the park’s shoreline. The Lagoon and the Twin Islands Salt Marsh, both recently restored, offer a wide array of vegetation such as glasswort and sea lavender and wildlife such as ducks, geese, and small crustaceans. The Gray Mare and Mishow are two large boulders that were important during rituals and ceremonies to the Siwanoy, a group of the local Lenape who inhabited this area up until the European arrival in the 17th century.

The nature trail runs through 189 acres of Hunter Island. Teens from the Mayor’s City Volunteer Corps constructed the asphalt path under the supervision of Urban Park Rangers. The construction of the trail was made possible by the NYC Parks’ Natural Resources Group, the United States Forest Service, the Van Cortlandt Park and Pelham Bay Park Administrator’s Office, the Natural Heritage Trust, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The Kazimiroff Nature Trail was dedicated on June 19, 1987, to this cherished figure in Bronx and Pelham Bay Park history. 

Directions to Pelham Bay Park

Know Before You Go

Nature Centers
Orchard Beach Nature Center

Orchard Beach Nature Center is closed to the public.

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