Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why is there a Castle Hill in the Bronx if there is no Castle or Hill

So, for years now my wife and I have been joking about why is the Castle Hill area named as such since there are no castles or hills in the area. So as I've been known to do, I searched around and found out. Here goes folks.

While Adriaen Block of Dutch New York fame (I'll get back to him in a later post) and his crew sailed from New Amsterdam to Holland on the newly built Onrust (Restless) loaded with furs and goods, the ship sailed along what is now known as The East River (To see a replica of the ship that was constructed by the Onrust foundation for the NY400 celebration click here). While following the shoreline of what is now The Bronx, the crew noticed what to them looked like a large castle on a hill. As they grew closer, they saw that it was large fortification of logs which rested on a sixty foot promontory. The fort was given the name Kasteel (Which is Dutch for Castle) by Adriaen Block and since it rested on a hill the name for the area
became "Castle Hill"

Who did the Kasteel belong to?
The fort belonged to The Siwanoy tribe. They were a branch of the Mohegans which in turn were a sub-tribe of The Algonquins. The Siwanoy inhabited the land along the coastlines of the Long Island Sound, Eastchester Bay, and Pelham Bay, between Connecticut and the southern Bronx. As was documented in Russell Shorto's The Island at the Center of the World, The Siwanoy was famous for their massacre of members of the Split Rock settlement (including Anne Hutchinson among others) located within current day Pelham Manor. This attack came in retaliation of New Netherland governor Willem Kieft's February massacres of Wappinger refugees from Wecquaesgeek at Corlaer's Hook and Pavonia across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

So there it is.

For additional reading:
For more information on Split Rock and how to get there, click here
For more information on the Siwanoy, click here.
New York City Parks Department page on the Siwanoy Trail, click here
The Onrust Project 2006-2009, click here

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