The history of New York City neighborhoods often reveals long forgotten historical curiosities — just look at Brooklyn. But these days the Bronx is getting a lot of attention, so here is a look at how some of the Bronx’s neighborhoods got their names.
The origin of Riverdale is pretty straightforward. It was a dale (a valley) with a river. Although that is a bit of an exaggeration, really. When 19th century developers named the area, it was a fairly hilly area with a few streams.
This neighborhood has had quite a few names over the years, according to Forgotten NY, including Speight den Duyvil, Spike & Devil, Spitting Devil, Spilling Devil, Spiten Debill and Spouting Devil. Depending on its pronunciation in Dutch it can mean “devil’s whirlpool” or “spite the devil.”
Washington Irving claims it got the name when a Dutch bugler attempted to swim the rough waters of the Spuyten Duyvil Creek in “spite of the devil.”
Another fairly straightforward naming. The area was once owned by English physician Thomas Pell. In 1654 he acquired a tract of over 9,000 acres from the local Siwanoy Indians. Today, the town of Pelham in Westchester County, Pelham Parkway, Pelham Bay Park and Pelham Cemetery in City Island are all named for Thomas Pell.
Fort Schuyler was named for Revolutionary War general and U.S. Senator Philip Schuyler. And by the way, it’s pronounced SKY-ler.
Throgs Neck was named for a early British settler, John Throckmorton. He arrived near Fort Schuyler in 1642. Neck describes the geography of the area, a peninsula, and Throg (sometimes Throgg) is an abbreviation of Throckmorton.