Searching for a little bit of country that can be your home base, while still being able to take advantage of everything that NYC offers? Do you want a slower pace of living, focused on family and the great outdoors? Riverdale may be your perfect choice. Only about ten miles north of Midtown, Riverdale’s bucolic paradise feels like you have left the city entirely. You would never guess that you are still within the confines of the Bronx.
Riverdale is primarily residential with a substantial number of single-family homes and corridors of high-rise apartments. There are many large parks, and they play a major role in the lives of the residents, as they are a primary source of entertainment. Clean, safe streets make Riverdale a great place to walk or cycle. There are trees everywhere, and the air is fresh and invigorating. It is a great place to raise a family, but more and more singles and young professionals are moving into Riverdale, in search of larger, less expensive apartments, and to enjoy the parks and the remarkable views of the Hudson River and Manhattan.
While the grid layout of the rest of the city makes it easy to find your way from here to there, Riverdale chose to forego that structure, choosing instead to let the verdant streets twist and wind their way around natural obstacles in designs by Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame. Some streets are divided, with traffic in one direction being at an entirely different level than traffic headed the opposite way on the same street. This quirkiness adds a certain charm to this neighborhood.
The Riverdale Memorial Bell Tower. This monument was erected in 1930 to honor the service of WW I veterans from the surrounding area. The bell in the tower was captured from a Mexican monastery during the Mexican-American War, spending time in Greenwich Village and the Riverdale fire station before being installed in the tower. The tower itself was moved to its current location in 1936. Located at W 239th Street and Riverdale Avenue.
Wave Hill. This beautiful park is situated within waves of rolling hills, hence its name. Wave Hill House, in the center of the 28-acre garden, was built in 1843 by William Lewis Morris, grandnephew of Lewis Morris, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Many notable people have stayed in the main house over the years, such as Italian orchestral conductor Arturo Toscanini and American author and humorist Mark Twain. Young Teddy Roosevelt was taken there by his father to recover from asthma. Spending time in the glorious nature of the area influenced him to create programs to preserve national parklands when he became the 26th U. S. President. Today, weddings and receptions are held there, as well as concerts, workshops, art exhibits and children’s activities. Located at 675 W 252nd Street.
S&S Cheesecake. Although not in Riverdale, technically, it is only about a five-minute walk away. Considering it has the most fluffy, moist and delicious cheesecake in New York, it is worth mentioning. It is right next to the 238th Street stop of the 1 Train, and operates out of a tiny, almost unnoticeable storefront. It is only open weekdays until 3:00 p.m. and doesn’t sell slices, only whole cakes. So plan accordingly, and bring your appetite. Located at 222 W 238th Street.
Tin Marin. There isn’t much in the way of nightlife in Riverdale. Businesses tend to close down early, and they roll up the streets by 11:00 p.m., unlike the thriving nightlife found in the city. Tin Marin, a Latin-American restaurant that serves up small plates, tapas and creative cocktails gives its big-city rivals a run for their money, providing a zesty spot for after-hours entertainment, closing sometime between midnight and 4:00 a.m. There are daily drink specials and live music starts around 10:00 p.m. Located at 3708 Riverdale Avenue.
What You Might See
If you walk quietly and are attentive when you are out in any of the neighborhood parks, you might see all manner of wildlife, such as turtles, ducks, geese, herons and deer. With all of the trees, Riverdale is a bird-watcher’s paradise, too.
What’s In The Future
Residents have long been hoping for ferry service directly to Riverdale. Will it ever materialize? At this point, it is uncertain. But hope springs eternal!
Riverdale has been zoned for high-density development since 1916, even though it was sparsely populated at the time. Riverdale has been carefully monitoring and controlling its development, balancing progressive growth with preservation since 1953, when it developed comprehensive zoning plans, which were approved by NYC planners. As new zoning plans are developed, it has been decided that preservation of the neighborhood character of Riverdale is the primary concern. This will become increasingly important as more and more people move northward into Riverdale and housing demands increase.
What You Might Not Know
The area that is now Riverdale was purchased from the Mahican (Mohican) tribe by Dutch settlers in 1646.
Future U. S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy lived in Riverdale from 1927-1929, during his childhood years, when his father moved the family into the three-story mansion at 5040 Independence Avenue. The house had 20 bedrooms and extensive grounds where young Kennedy and his siblings played. While living there, Kennedy attended the Riverdale Country Day School, where he was an unremarkable student. The stucco-clad mansion has since fallen into a state of disrepair.
What We Love
Riverdale is a family-friendly, walkable neighborhood, filled with tree-lined streets and serene parks. There are good schools, both public and private. A sense of peace and quiet prevails. You will wake up to the sounds of birds chirping in the trees and shrubs. Beautiful vistas of the Hudson River contribute to the relaxing atmosphere. If you don’t want to live in the heart of the city, yet still want to have ready access to all the amenities, Riverdale could be the perfect neighborhood for you.