Continuing the 2012 tradition of beautiful weather for ForgottenTours (unlike previous years) ForgottenTour 53 met at the end of the line of the #6 train, Pelham Bay Park, and 30 ForgottenFans took the BX29 bus to the first stop in City Island, a spit of land in Eastchester Bay off the coast of Orchard Beach, on a made to order sunny and 75 degree day.
Here’s some highlights of what turned out to be a 3.5 hour tour.
The former Northwind Undersea Institute was located in one of a number of waterside mansions once owned by City Island sea captains and boatbuilders. The Institute was a museum cofounded by former Navy Seal Michael Sandlofer and folksinging star Richie Havens to educate young people about the plight of the environment. It was a hands-on learning center featuring the Undersea world of the Bronx exhibit, with a 100-year-old tugboat, whale bones and lifesize models of whales.
Pelham Cemetery is NYC’s only waterside cemetery. It was founded in the 1860s and was originally part, with the rest of City Island, of the town of Pelham in Westchester County which was annexed to New York County (Manhattan, Bronx) in 1895 and became part of Greater New York in 1898.
We found an exposed skull in the back of the cemetery, which we reported to the City Island Museum.
The City Island Nautical Museum on Fordham Street is located in the former PS 17. It features 4 rooms full of artwork and exhibits chronicling the island’s near 250-year history of shipbuilders, fishermen and America’s cup yachtsmen. The Museum owns one of the largest collections of marine-themed books as well as watercolors of Orchard Beach, City Island, Hunter Island and other local sites by Prof. Harold V. Walsh, painted in the 1930s. The Nautical room is dedicated to the island’s rich history as a boatbuilding, oystering and yachting mecca, while the School room depicts a classroom of the 1830s. Its densely packed shelves and walls, filled with newspapers, books, ads, scrapbooks and memorabilia are a testimony to City Island’s colorful history.
21 Tier Street is owned by Barbara Dolensek of the Nautical Museum. She graciously allowed ForgottenFans to walk the grounds, which face Eastchester Bay and have a view of the Manhattan skyline (see flickr, linked below, for views). The house’s locale has encouraged filmmakers to use it as a set, including 1962′s Long Day’s Journey Into Night starring Katharine Hepburn.
Schofield Street contains City Island’s largest concentration of Victorian-era buildings from the 1860s to 1900.
This beautiful building on Pell Place was assembled from a Sears-Roebuck catalog in 1930.
We concluded the tour with lunch at Johnny’s Famous Reef, a City Island institution for a few decades and it seemed the entire borough of the Bronx was there on a gorgeous afternoon.
Since FNY’s two City Island tours have come 10 years apart, we’ll have to do the next one sooner than that.
Flickr: Forgotten NY City Island tour. Photos: Joe DeMarco, Eric Weaver