CLASON POINT, Bronx

by Kevin Walsh

By SERGEY KADINSKY
Forgotten NY correspondent

At the southern tip of Soundview Avenue in the Bronx is the newest NYCFerry dock, providing a one-seat ride from this corner of the borough to Wall Street. I haven’t been to Soundview since high school, when my classmate Karen hosted friends at her home and there was Dominican music in the background. Soundview Avenue is the odd one here, cutting through the street grid on its two-mile route.

 

Having previously chronicled other prominent points of land in the city, I followed Soundview Avenue to its tip. Along the way, the triangular intersections are designated as Greenstreets parks, with more than a dozen on the route. At the end is Clason Point, historically pronounced as Clawson.

 

The most notable of these triangular parklets is Woodrow Wilson Triangle, bound by Underhill, Patterson, and Soundview Avenues. Its World War One monument was dedicated in 1928 on the decade anniversary since the end of the war. On the plaque are quotations from Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Wilson. An odd pair as Lincoln emancipated the slaves while Wilson was a staunch segregationist.

 

Your old Hagstrom map won’t help you here as many of the streets on the grid were never completed, end midblock, and others appear partially completed. Turning right from Soundview Avenue, one enters Harding Park, a cluster of bungalows built organically in the 1920s by Thomas Higgs and named after then-President Warren G. Harding. City planner Robert Moses attempted to condemn this community in the name of slum clearance but the residents won and in 1982 the Harding Park Homeowners Association succeeded in gaining title to their homes and land. Kevin Walsh was here in 2006, telling the story of Harding Park in detail.

 

Undeveloped waterfront parcels were acquired by the city for parkland but kept in a natural state. Dead-end streets disappear into the tangle of vegetation at Harding Park.

 

Beyond the bushes there is a lagoon in Harding Park separated from the East River by a rocky breakwater. This is where the Bronx River widens into the East River. In the background are the Hunts Point Market and the skyline of Manhattan.

 

As mentioned, Harding Park developed organically without regard to the borough-wide street grid. Some streets here are interrupted midblock by properties, and others do not appear on any official maps.

 

One of the great unfinished waterfront roads here is Bronx River Road, which was intended to run continuously from East Tremont Avenue along the east bank of Bronx River down to the tip of Clason Point. Today it runs in five segments that are kept separate by Soundview Park, Harding Park properties, and the Shorehaven development.

 

Speaking of unfinished plans, further inland at Story Avenue, the Bronx River Parkway abruptly ends. Usually when a highway ends, it does so by merging into another highway. Destination signs along the southbound parkway show Soundview Park as its terminus.

 

A 1960s hand-drawn Hagstrom map shows the parkway continuing into the park with an interchange at Randall Avenue, Lafayette Avenue crossing the Bronx River, and Bronx River Avenue curving along the shoreline. Hagstrom often tried to keep their maps up to date by depicting planned highways and paper streets as reality, because in most cases when Robert Moses proposed something, it became reality. On the other hand, the massive superblock interrupting White Plains Road at the time was the wetland source of Pugsley’s Creek. Most of it would end up developed.

 

Another unusual map of what Clason Point could have been is the 1941 Barkan Street Directory map that shows the grid in its entirety mashed with the natural courses of Bronx River, Pugsley’s Creek and Westchester Creek. A trolley line runs down Soundview Avenue, but Bronx River Parkway has not yet been extended to this corner of the Bronx. The section between Pelham Parkway and Soundview opened in 1951.

 

I would like to see every major street have a monument and plaza at its terminus, but the southern tip of White Plains Road is marked by a fence that keeps it a few yards short of the East River. This road runs north for 7.2 miles to the city line at Wakefield. It continues north under other names. Its namesake city is 10 miles north of the city line.

 

Returning to Soundview Avenue, there is a gated community with its own set of nautical theme streets: Admiral Court, Beacon Lane, Surf Drive, etc. This is the 57-acre Shorehaven community, set apart from the rest of southern Bronx by its wall and security guards. Between 1949 and 1986, this property was the Shore Haven Beach Club, a member-only resort for working-class Bronxites.

 

In 1949, Mal Deitch and Joseph Goodstein transformed the defunct Clason Point Bathing and Amusement Park, into a private resort with a swimming pool, cabanas, playground, and a stage. Most of its clientele were working class and middle class Jews who resided in surrounding neighborhoods. Like a Catskills resort or a Miami Beach hotel, Shore Haven had a unique cultural feel of secular Jewish life that included stand-up comedians, singers, mah-jongg, and cocktails. By the 1980s the Bronx was more Hispanic than Jewish, and new residents did not join the club in large enough numbers.

 

Along with rising liability costs, Shorehaven’s expenses forced it to close. Memories of Shorehaven survive online, with former member Marc Miller compiling a collage of old photos for the Shorehaven Beach Club Facebook group.

 

As an amusement park, Clason Point was linked to the city by a ferry, competing for patrons with the North Beach Amusement Park across the East River, and Starlight Park on the Bronx River. The park has a tragic history with 6 deaths and 22 injured on June 11, 1922, when a storm blew down an operating ferris wheel. The amusement park closed in 1935.

 

The 1927 G. W. Bromley map of Clason Point shows the bungalow colony, amusement park, and the tip labeled as “Public Place.” It was a crowded district in contrast to today’s gated community.

 

Between 1906 and 1939, a ferry operated between Clason Point and College Point. The completion of the nearby Whitestone Bridge put the ferry out of business. On the above 1940 photo from the Municipal Archives, the ferry gantries stood unused in place for a few more years. Following the demise of the ferry, the tip of Clason Point reverted to parkland and was given its present landscape in the early 1990s.

 

This includes a scenic traffic circle as a terminus for Soundview Avenue with vistas of the East River and Whitestone Bridge.

 

Across the East River you can explore the northern shoreline of Queens and see the palatial homes of Malba.

 

Here you can also take the NYCFerry at the cost of a subway ride down to the Upper East Side, 34th Street, and Wall Street. At some point, we should do a Forgotten-NY cheapskate’s cruise aboard this ferry. We’ve haven’t yet had a floating ForgottenTour. My previous examples of exploring tips of land in the city include Throg(g)’s Neck, Breezy Point, and Kingsborough Community College.

Sergey Kadinsky is the author of Hidden Waters of New York City: A History and Guide to 101 Forgotten Lakes, Ponds, Creeks, and Streams in the Five Boroughs (2016, Countryman Press) and the webmaster of Hidden Waters Blog

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8/29/18

48 comments

ronald s August 29, 2018 - 10:40 am

Re Shorehaven Country Club, a similar case existed in Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst where the Jackson Heights Country Club existed until roughly the late 1970’s (????). It had a primarily Jewish membership,but that community left the city in the big Long Island suburban exodus, and the club closed. The location was 23rd avenue roughly 84th to 86th street (estimated). I believe they sold the property to a large church organization.
From the postcard, Shorehaven looks more “country” than Jackson Heights did. Even at its best, Jackson Heights was clearly in the city.

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Anonymous September 8, 2020 - 7:02 am

Great article!!!

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Todd Lefkowitz August 29, 2018 - 4:08 pm

Nice tour, Sergey

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D. Echevarria August 8, 2020 - 12:45 pm

I grew up on Beach Ave., and at that time, Shorehaven was NOT open to everyone, no Hispanics and no African Americans. So it want so wonderful for those of us looking in from the outside. I loved growing up there, and it is nice to see the green spaces that have been encouraged and purposefully developed, but we do need to recognize that even in our “melting pot,” life was different for many other “ working class” people.

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Anonymous September 8, 2020 - 7:39 am

Not true. We were Hispanic with the last name Ortiz. My family and many other Hispanics were members of Shorehaven from 1973 to when closed in the late 80’s.

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Frank January 16, 2021 - 4:48 pm

Hi, Was your fathers’ name Victor? My X-wife lived at 535 Beach Ave and I lived at 534 St. Lawrence Ave around the corner.
Frank

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Carol Holihan Braun August 31, 2018 - 8:35 am

Thanks for the memories.
A few more thoughts…….great carnival each year at the Clason Point firehouse…..parade each Memorial Day was a highlight to the neighborhood….book mobile came each week. Swimming in the East river…stick ball games every night…rollerskating on Soundview Ave. Sleighriding down Guildersleeve hill…Beach theater…Holy Cross. Wow what a wonderful childhood I had!

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Joe Corbisiero February 7, 2019 - 8:42 pm

That’s how I remember it, the best part of summer was Shorehaven working there and friends that lasted for years!

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Margaret Daly April 25, 2020 - 4:55 pm

My Dad did the lawn @ Shore Haven before I was born mid 50s . I remember fishing right by my Grandfather bungolaw in Harding Park right by water .

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Bob Howell October 17, 2020 - 8:07 pm

You are right. I grew up in a Bungalow on
Gildersleeve Ave, a stones throw from the
Shorhaven pool. We were poor and we’re not
welcome in the pool. It was only available to the
elites from the Concourse

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ny2az September 1, 2018 - 9:49 am

Shore Haven: I remember it well. My family had memberships, 1962-66. It was like a 10 week long Bronx summit meeting: Parkchester (my contingent) met Soundview, Grand Concourse, Pelham Parkway, & other middle class Bronx neighborhoods. Over fifty years later it’s mostly gated & the middle class is long departed. The development I live in here in AZ is like a year round Shore Haven minus the waterfront & the ethnic overtones.

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Dana August 20, 2019 - 7:38 pm

Ethnic overtones?

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Thomas Tierney November 9, 2018 - 10:11 pm

My aunt and uncle lived in Harding Park from the early thirty until he died Around 1960. I think his address was 507 Harding Park their names were Ella and Thomas Tierney ,he had a vegetable garden in the lot across the from his house,great memories .

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Bob Howell October 17, 2020 - 8:49 pm

Tom, I grew up at 1621 Harding Park. Not far from your
family. The name sounds familiar. I was young, 67 years ago

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N. Miranda December 19, 2018 - 10:10 am

Thank you for this history on Clason Point. As a little girl, my neighbor who has a membership to the country club, used to take me every weekend. I now own a home there in one of the developments and to think this area is still making history. I hope to be here to see what it will look like in 20 years.

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Frances (Mastriaco) Cinquino January 21, 2019 - 11:04 am

Wow Thank you so much for all your research. I truly enjoyed the memories

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Anonymous January 31, 2019 - 9:11 pm

Frances, are you related to Nick and Philamena , and Johnny and Margie?

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Jo Ann February 3, 2019 - 4:01 pm

Great going down memory lane . I remember the parades at the monument right in front of Dr Granito’s office. My Aunt lived on Underhill Av I lived on Bolton Av , Commonwealth and last Thieriot Av. Went to Holy Cross School. My mom worked at the Beach Theater where you bought your ticket to get in. I moved to California in 1976 but I have to admit I miss New York very much. Thanks for sharing Betty.

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Bobby V April 29, 2019 - 10:39 am

McElroy?

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Bob Howell October 17, 2020 - 8:56 pm

Tom, I grew up at 1621 Gildersleeve @ Harding Park.
Not far from your family. The name sounds familiar. I was young, 67 years ago. I went to PS 69; swam in the East River, played in the Boat Yard; went to Holy Cross
Church; my dad and Grandfather were Lieutenants At
the Volunteer Fire Dept on Gildersleeve. My uncle rented a stool at Gleasons.

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Irene Arntsen Wachausen February 4, 2019 - 4:54 pm

I enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I lived in a houseboat in Clason Point…It was a community at the very end of Soundview Ave….wish you had some photos of them. We owned our houses, bug not the land they were on…In the late 1950’s, Shorehaven bought the land and told us to move…We fought but lost…Miss my old neighborhood…

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Edward Harder October 24, 2019 - 5:13 pm

I lived in a houseboat on Pugsley’s creek. I knew the Davis brothers who lived in a houseboat at the end of the point also the Ferry Inn at the end

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Anonymous June 14, 2020 - 1:22 pm

My name is George Harkinson and the Davis brothers, Tommy and Paul and their sister Pat are my cousins. I lived at 15 Soundview Ave until Shorehaven purchased the property

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Pete September 12, 2020 - 2:41 pm

George was you sister Elizeibeth I went to PS 69 with her in the 5 & 6th grades

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Janet October 26, 2020 - 10:22 pm

I was about to send a link to Elizabeth, George, then saw your name. Very excited. She was a neighbor and is still a
Friend. Loved the stories and photos of living on a houseboat in the Bronx. I came from the east Bronx.

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Daniel lucca February 10, 2019 - 5:41 pm

I lived in clason point over 40 years and may i say i love where i from. What it was than is what it is know peaceful god bless our lilpuerto rico

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Bill Vogt February 26, 2019 - 4:10 pm

I lived in Academy Gardens from birth (1943) until we moved to California in 1955. My last year in the Navy was in Washington, D.C. in 1964 and I still had many relatives in Clason Point so I made frequent visits until most moved to the Island or New Jersey. The friends who I still remember, were John McKeever, Joey Macek, Johnny Kaiser, Raymond Francis and Chuck Huber. Our next door neighbors were the Valenza family with 3 boys (Johnny, Frank and Joey).

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Helmut (hammel) Babos March 8, 2019 - 4:02 pm

what a great trip down memory lane, I lived on Newman ave in Clason point from 1955 until 1970 and remember the great summer days at Shorehaven, The bungalow bar ice cream truck that passed down my street in the summer evenings and all the great fishing at the point.

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Margaret Daly April 25, 2020 - 4:57 pm

My Dad did the lawn @ Shore Haven before I was born mid 50s . I remember fishing right by my Grandfather bungolaw in Harding Park right by water .

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Jay Goodman April 30, 2020 - 6:44 pm

My family and I were members of Shorehaven from 1970-1986. The first time I saw the magnificent clover shaped pool I jumped right in. From that point, we participated in every sporting event like paddleball, shuffleboard, and softball tournaments (run by Mr Wilson). We also loved the live entertainment like Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers. It was like a giant summer camp, but you got to go home and sleep in your own bed at night. I couldn’t wait to go back the next day. I even was a lifeguard there for 4 years.

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Peter S. July 11, 2019 - 10:14 pm

What a great read. We lived on Newman Ave in the 60’s in a house my great grandfather built down near the corner of Patterson, Families like the Nichols, the Potulins, the Stecks, the Heaters all with kids running in the streets until the lights came on or scavenging down in the old boat yard which became a dump with the firemen’s training pit. Walking to the candy store or the hardware store on Soundview. Great fond memories.

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Diana Kosnac May 6, 2021 - 2:36 pm

Are you speaking of Aubrey and Mary Nichols, they had a son, John and a daughter, can’t remember her name. I went steady with John from 1971 to 1977 but never married. I grew up from 1960 – 1976 on Pugsley just off of Cornell Ave. I was a member for a few years at Shorehaven then when I was old enough was able to work there in the office then as the baby pool lifeguard. It’s one of the best memories of my life growing up in Bronx.
Diana – used to be Klein or Barca

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Barbara A. Hatchette July 18, 2019 - 3:18 pm

Love this! My sister and I grew up in Soundview/Clason Point, in the Soundview Projects from 1954-1967. Great memories growing up in Soundview, Bronx! I’ve been to the Clason Point Park with the view of the Whitestone Bridge. So lovely there. I definitely want to take the ferry from east 34th street to Clason Point. Such an interesting read! Thanks!

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Barbara A. Hatchette July 18, 2019 - 3:24 pm

Our view from our kitchen window was the east river and the Empire state building. Looks left was the Long Island Sound.
Again a great read!

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Mike Nestler August 14, 2019 - 11:42 am

Great memories growing up in the Point. What a terrific place to grow up. I lived on Bolton Ave from 1953 to 1972 mom still lives there.

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John A Paternoster September 16, 2019 - 9:23 am

Hi Mike,

You have 4 brothers: George,Buddy,Walter and Robert. I remember you guys very well. I lived on Bolton until 1971. How’s it going? Your Dad and Mom were always good to me. I was like one of the family. Had many meals with you guys. went to Holy Cross School. I loved the area as well growing up there.

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John A Paternoster September 16, 2019 - 10:41 am

Great Site

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Pat Mac Innes November 16, 2019 - 10:18 pm

Lived in Harding Park from 1945 till 60’s. All the great games at baseball field, parties at firehouse. We all learned to swim. Oh those sunburns.
Pat (Haughey) MacInnes.

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Alan April 1, 2020 - 12:15 pm

Great Memories Here. I also lived in the Academy Gardens and went ever summer to Shorehaven. I recall the square dancing on Wednesday nights and social dancing on Saturday nights. On Memorial Day my Boy
Scout Troop would march to the Harding Park Memorial to WWI and then we would go to the VFW club on Lacomb Avenue for lunch. Of course many wonderful Saturday afternoons were spent in the Beach Theater
watching two full length movies and cartoons. When in university I did a report on the Siwanoy Indians who lived in Clason Point. Their village was supposedly located near the corner of Lacomb and Soundview Avenues.
I went to the emptly lot there with my friend and dug a hole looking for any traces. We found oyster shells at the bottom of the hole. A friend in later life was a Bronx Historian, Arther Seifert, who lived near Shorehaven.
He had a collection of arrowheads he found near Pugsley Creek. I also recall the parents of my friend playing bocci and horsehoes in the fields near the Academy Gardens. If anyone wishes to share memories with me,
contact me at aaron3@netvigator.com. Thanks and let us enjoy our memories.

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maryann alfano April 25, 2020 - 2:22 pm

The residents of Clason Point chipped in for that monument…….My Grandparents owned 338 Underhill over 50 years. We lived there, played there, worshipped there and were all family to each otheir. If I went back I think I would get lost……

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maryann alfano May 18, 2020 - 12:29 pm

Anyone who is enjoying this should look at I Miss Clason Point on Facebook! We have great pics and posts! I was born and raised 338 Underhill Ave> We moved inthe mid 70s .

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Thelma Peragine Green June 5, 2020 - 8:03 pm

Thelma Peragine Green . Thank you for posting this site. I lived on Husson Avenue and Underhill. Went to P.S. 107 P.S

69. Junior High 123 and graduated from James Monroe High in 1959.

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Steven July 12, 2020 - 3:52 pm

Great read! My father was born and raised in Clason Point, being born in one of the bungalows within Glenz Estates, which was located at the intersection of Soundview and Gildersleeve (just behind the old ‘Paley’s Supermarket’). He moved one block away after his dad had a home built at 1945 Gildersleeve Ave., in 1925. The home stayed in the family for over 50 years.
Many great, warm memories of the area from frequent family visits.

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Joan Freda Bailey August 21, 2020 - 12:29 pm

I enjoyed reading about Clason Point. I lived on Newman Avenue from 1954 to 1962 when I moved to California. My mother had a large group of women friends who played Canasta. Friends were the Verheyens,
Peragines (I see Thelma’s post above), Grazianos & many others. I haven’t bee back to the Bronx since 1967 when I attended Barbara Verheyen’s wedding.

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Georgia Sherlock December 16, 2020 - 11:17 pm

I was probably four years old and remember taking the bus to Shorehaven with my mother from Parkchester.

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Sandy January 1, 2021 - 6:44 pm

Thank you for the article. My 2x great grandparents owned Kane’s until it burned down. I love reading accountings of this area as it was so important to my family at that time – and that was passed down through the generations.

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Mike Nestler April 26, 2021 - 7:05 pm

Hi Sandy, my mom, Anne Nestler was baptized at Kane’s almost 97 years ago. Holy Cross Parish wasn’t established yet so the Franciscan Friars would hold services at the casino. She still lives, and is doing great, in the house that my grandfathers brother built on Bolton Ave. we were all born and raise in the same house. I have the original portable pump organ that the Franciscans would bring on Sunday’s to Kane’s.

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michael maher March 12, 2021 - 11:04 am

mike maher i lived in the academy gardens in the i remember rudys candy store peppermint bar shoe repair beer garden etc beach movie theater VFW for saturday movies in the early1950 my family lived in rudd place my cousin was a life guard at shorehaven pool my aunt had a small deli near the water fond memories we moved to L.I.in 1956 i went to ps 107 ps 69 holy cross church .

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