For much of the twentieth-century, the Bronx River became a ruin of rusting bedsprings and junked cars, along with sewage and industrial pollution.
But an extensive cleanup effort by the Bronx River Alliance and other groups has now restored the eight-mile-long lower river, with turtles, alewives, glass eels, great blue herons, and other species back at home there. Beavers returned in 2007—after an absence of several hundred years. City programs now focus on making the river a source of green pleasure for neighboring residents, many of them, like my great-grandfather, immigrants.
The restored habitat is providing homes for wildlife—but it is no doubt also producing new stories to entertain children, and to be passed down for generations into the future. And that makes the city a much richer and more magical place for everyone.