Tucked away on a hillside overlooking the convergence of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers, Spuyten Duyvil (pronounced SPY-tun DIE-vul) is a quiet, primarily residential enclave. It is one of the most beautiful places to live, and yes, it is in the Bronx! Spuyten Duyvil is hilly, with outcroppings of the native dolomite bedrock of the area, winding lanes, and is heavily treed, almost forest-like in many areas. You will wake to birdsong, and may see smaller wildlife and the occasional deer. The neighborhood’s Hudson River shoreline offers dramatic views of the New Jersey Palisades, and if you look northward, you can see all the way up river to the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Although it has long been considered a retreat from the city for older people, Spuyten Duyvil is now seeing an influx of families and young professionals, moving north to escape the close confines and higher prices of the City, trading those for affordable housing in closer proximity to nature.. There are reasonably priced housing options, including co-op apartments, condos, and even single-family homes in colonial and Tudor styles. There are some high-rise buildings with doormen in the southeastern corner of the neighborhood. The most desirable buildings are the red brick mid-rise buildings along Palisade Avenue, offering stunning Hudson River views. Perhaps the most unusual building is the Villa Charlotte Bronte, a 17-unit co-op building designed to mimic an Italian villa.
The commercial area of Spuyten Duyvil is small, and largely confined to a strip mall-like group of stores on Knolls Crescent. There are a few restaurants that are frequented by residents and a smattering of grocery stores. Three sizeable parks in the neighborhood offer recreational activities and dog-friendly areas.
With a relatively convenient commute to Manhattan, Spuyten Duyvil gives residents the perfect mix of urban access with relaxed, suburban living. If you work in the City, or just want to spend the day shopping or sight-seeing, you can choose the Metro-North, express buses, or catch the 1 train from Marble Hill, just a quick local bus ride away. You can be in Midtown or at Grand Central Terminal in about 30 to 60 minutes.
Villa Charlotte Bronte. Built in 1926 by John Jay McKelvey, using a Robert W. Gardner design, this stunning 17-unit co-op building looks like an Italian villa, perched just beneath the crest of the high bluff overlooking the Hudson River. There are two sections to the villa, separated by a lushly landscaped courtyard. Each of the units is separate from the others, with its own exterior access, and unique interior design. The units are linked by a maze of stairs and stone-arched walkways. All units have views of the Hudson. The buildings are stucco, with stone and brick accents, and roofs featuring multi-colored tiles. McKelvey built this villa, and two others nearby, in response to what he called “the city ugly” that was creeping northward from the City. These co-op villas are considered to be the first apartment buildings in the area. Located at 2501 Palisade Avenue.
Spuyten Duyvil Shorefront Park. The structural column that supports the northern end of the Henry Hudson Bridge, spanning the Harlem River and connecting Manhattan (Inwood) to Spuyten Duyvil, is located in this park. The park was remodeled in the 1990s and features graveled walkways and a footbridge that allows you to view a small pond and natural spring that empty into the Harlem River. There are benches and a terraced river overlook, as well. The park is maintained in a fairly natural state, as opposed to being severely manicured, to preserve the natural environment that attracts wildlife, especially migratory waterfowl, such as Mallard ducks, Black- and Green-crowned Night Herons, Yellow and Snowy Egrets and several species of sandpipers. Located in a triangle created by Edsall Avenue, Palisade Avenue, and the Hudson Line of the Metro-North railroad that runs along the Harlem River.
Ewen Park. Named after John Ewen, a brigadier general in the New York State National Guard during the Civil War, who defied prohibitions against an officer of that lofty rank fighting in the regular Army. After the war, he served as the Comptroller for the City of New York. The park has a large, hilly lawn that provides some of the best snow sledding in the City. There is also a massive staircase with landings where you can take a break from your climb. There are two basketball courts and a dog run, as well. Located between Johnson and Riverdale Avenues, south of W 232nd Street.
Henry Hudson Park. Here you will find the imposing monument to Henry Hudson. The monument consists of a 100-foot Doric column, topped by a 16-foot statue of Henry Hudson, who was purported to be the first European to discover the river that bears his name, when his ship, the Halve Maen (Half Moon), sailed into New York Harbor in 1609. He was looking for a sea route through North America for the Dutch East India Company in order to promote trade with the Far East. The monument was started in 1909, and the column portion was erected in 1912, but due to a lack of funds and the death of the original sculptor, it was not completed until 1938. On Palisade Avenue, you can visit the Half Moon Overlook, for an excellent view of the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers. There are basketball courts, handball courts, a baseball diamond, dog-friendly areas, and multiple playgrounds in the park. Located along Independence Avenue at Palisade Avenue, bisected by Kappock Street.
Edgehill Church. Originally a small mission chapel that served the workers at the Johnson Iron Foundry, in 1888 architect Francis B. Kimball was commissioned to design a bigger and better church to support this tiny congregation. Kimball’s design is very unusual, as it embodies several different styles, and doesn’t really resemble a traditional church, as much as it does a Tudor-style residence. It has a stone base, half-timbered Tudor gables, and arched Gothic windows. Its asymmetrical form suits the sloping site where it was built. There are Tiffany windows in the transepts. Located at 2550 Independence Avenue.
Spuyten Duyvil Creek. All that remains of the original Spuyten Duyvil Creek is a short tidal estuary that acts as a connecting waterway from the Hudson River into the Harlem River Ship Canal, which leads to the Harlem River proper. This system of waterways is what makes Manhattan an island, separating it from the Bronx at Spuyten Duyvil and the mainland. The original Spuyten Duyvil Creek ran through what is now Marble Hill. It was eliminated in 1913 when it was completely filled in, forever attaching Marble Hill to the Bronx, although it is still, technically, part of Manhattan. Located between the Hudson and Harlem Rivers.
What You Might See
One of the more interesting features of Spuyten Duyvil is its outdoor staircases, that allow easy traverse of the area’s many hills and make shortcuts for the residents to get from one part of the neighborhood to another, avoiding the winding roads. A notable example is the 272-step staircase that connects Netherland and Irwin Avenues, which provides an amazing workout for your thighs and glutes.
What’s In The Future
There is a wave of new residents coming into the neighborhood from both Queens and Brooklyn, attracted by the lower prices and the natural beauty of the area. Although there is not a lot of open space for development in Spuyten Duyvil, as older properties are demolished, new residential buildings are being built, primarily co-ops, which are very popular here.
Due to zoning decisions made by Bronx planning officials back in 2003, new buildings are restricted to eight stories or less, in most areas. This zoning was designed to preserve the natural beauty of the neighborhood and ensure that new construction would fit in with its existing residential nature. The community residents are very active in determining what projects are undertaken in the neighborhood.
What You Might Not Know
The Spuyten Duyvil neighborhood’s name originated with the early Dutch settlers of the area. In those days, there was a creek in what is now Marble Hill. They gave it the name “Spuyten Duyvil Creek,” which means Devil’s Spout or Spitting Devil, in English, due to its roiling, turbulent waters that were the result of a fresh water spring that gushed into the creek at one location. The creek no longer exists, but the origin of its name was referenced in Washington Irving’s book, Knickerbocker History, wherein he recounts the tale of the British attacking New Amsterdam (now Manhattan) in the 1660s, and a brave soldier volunteering to swim across the violent creek where it met the Hudson, “in spite of the devil,” in order to get reinforcements. Legends differ as to whether or not the soldier was successful, or was drowned in the turbulent waters.
What We Love
The natural beauty, the winding roads, the fact that you can live in a location with a suburban atmosphere while still having easy access to Manhattan, and the reasonable housing prices all combine to make Spuyten Duyvil an idyllic place to call home.