Why The Bronx?

There are five boroughs in New York City: Manhattan (New York County), Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens (Queens County), Staten Island (Richmond County), and The Bronx (Bronx County). Have you ever wondered why The Bronx has “The” in the name while the other boroughs don’t?

Photo credit Matthew Morales, courtesy of the Bronx River Alliance

It all started in 1639 when a Scandinavian, Jonas Bronck, settled in a Dutch colonial province in New Netherland.

“When he dies in 1643 at the age of 43, the only thing that remained that was named after him through the ages was Bronck’s River,” says Bronx borough historian Lloyd Ultan.

Like with many names that can be difficult to say or write, the ‘ck’ was changed to an ‘x’—and the stream of water that ran next to Jonas Bronck’s farm became the Bronx River.

But the present day borough went without a name for more than 200 years until New York City got the land from Westchester County.

“They looked right smack in the middle of a map and there is the Bronx River, so they named it after the river, the borough of the Bronx, and that’s why it’s always called The Bronx and not just plain Bronx,” Ultan says.

The borough is named after the river. That’s named after the man that came from a foreign land in the 17th century.

from Spectrum News NY1

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Manahatta to Manhattan

Here’s a great reading booklet from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian about the first New Yorkers

The Lenape, Manhattan’s original inhabitants,  called the island Manahatta, which means “hilly island.”

Rich with natural resources, Manahatta had an abundance of fruits, nuts, birds, and animals. Fish and shellfish were plentiful and the ocean was full of seals, whales, and dolphins. Migrant birds flew to local marshes based on the available food supply or weather conditions.

The body of water off the coast of Lower Manhattan is an estuary, a place where saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean mixes with freshwater from the Hudson River. Estuaries are particularly good places for wildlife to live.

The Lenape called the Hudson River Shatemuc, meaning “the river that flows both ways,” because the river alternates its flow from north to south along with the Atlantic tides. Shatemuc was an important water route for the Lenape who traded with other Native people living in villages along its banks.

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Before Columbus

Most people believe Christopher Columbus was the first European to reach America. They’re wrong! Here’s an article from History.com which explains:

Nearly 500 years before the birth of Christopher Columbus, a band of European sailors left their homeland behind in search of a new world. Their high-prowed Viking ship sliced through the cobalt waters of the Atlantic Ocean as winds billowed the boat’s enormous single sail. After traversing unfamiliar waters, the Norsemen aboard the wooden ship spied a new land, dropped anchor and went ashore. Half a millennium before Columbus “discovered” America, those Viking feet may have been the first European ones to ever have touched North American soil.

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