Bronx Park was acquired by the city in late 1888 and early 1889. By 1891, the city had allocated fully 250 acres to be used as a botanical garden, which has developed into one of the world’s premier gardens, with visitors drawn year-round to its collection of temperate and tropical plants and perennials, with many acres of groves and gardens. The Bronx River, which is generally a grimy, industrial flow of sludge south of the park, is here magically transformed back into the pristine fresh water brook it was before the Bronx was settled and even enjoys some swiftly rushing waterfalls here. A hemlock forest deep in the Botanical Gardens is left over from the pre-colonial era.
Take East 204th Street walking east from Webster Avenue, cross the Metro-North tracks over a pedestrian truss bridge, and turn right on the nearest Bronx Park pedestrian path and you will find French Charley’s Playground, created as a Works Progress Administration effort in 1941. Long ago, the area of Norwood along the park and north of Mosholu Parkway was an enclave for French immigrants, and Charley Mangin operated a popular restaurant hereabouts in the 1890s.