Located on a small island in Eastchester Bay in the extreme northeast Bronx, City Island is a transplanted New England fishing village seemingly beamed into the New York Metropolitan area. City Island was privately owned, first by the Pell family and then by the Palmer family, from 1654 until it became a part of the town of Pelham, in Westchester County, in 1819. The island became a part of New York City in 1895. Benjamin Palmer, who owned the island in 1761, thought of it as a potential commercial rival to New York City, and so it picked up a new nickname (it previously had been called Great Minnefords Island). Of course it never rivaled New York City as a seaport but it did develop thriving seaside industries. Palmer’s group laid out streets and established two ferries to the mainland. Palmer, a staunch supporter of the Revolution, engaged the ire of the British, who plundered the island in 1776. Three years later, Palmer and his family were captured and forced to leave the island for Manhattan; he never returned to City Island.
I have not been able to get to the Bronx at all during the great infection of 2020, except for a trip to Morris Park and Williamsbridge during the mild February, and a ride to City Island with my friend Joanna and her Volkswagen in July. (This is not a paid promo, but I had the best outdoor dining experience by far during the crisis at Sammy’s Fish Box, with melt in your mouth halibut, baked potato, corn on the cob under a widely spaced tent with plenty of shade from the hot sun. The par excellence experience is more expensive, however, than my usual City Island haunt, Johnny’s Famous Reef.)
The whale-weathervaned house shown above, featuring a wraparound porch overlooking Eastchester Bay and Pelham Bay Park, was made famous in the movies. It was featured in 1962’s Sidney Lumet directed film of Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical story Long Day’s Journey Into Night, starring Katharine Hepburn. A more recent film set in City Island, starring Andy Garcia as a corrections officer who aspires to be an actor, came out in 2010. 21 Tier is the home of the current director of the City Island Nautical Museum and she has graciously let a couple of Forgotten NY tours on the lawn for the view.
The building dates to 1894. The street is named for Daniel Tier, who settled in City Island in 1784.