Grand Lecturer’s Blog



Wantagh is a hamlet in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County on Long Island, New York.  Wantagh is known as “The Gateway to Jones Beach”.  The Wantagh area was inhabited by the Merokee (or Merikoke) tribe of the Metoac Indians prior to the first wave of European settlement in the mid-17th century. The Merokee were part of the greater Montauk tribe that loosely ruled Long Island’s Native Americans. Wantagh was the sachem (chief) of the Merokee tribe in 1647,   and was later the grand sachem of the Montauk tribe from 1651-1658. The Dutch settlers came east from their New Amsterdam colony, and English settlers came south from Connecticut and Massachusetts settlements. When the English and Dutch settled their competing claims to Long Island in the 1650 treaty  conducted in Hartford, the Dutch partition included all lands west of Oyster Bay  and thus the Wantagh area. Long Island then was ceded to the Duke of York in 1663-64, but then fell back into Dutch hands after the Dutch regained New York in 1673. The Treaty of Westminster in 1674 settled the land claims once and for all, incorporating Long Island into the now-British colony of New York.   

Wantagh was originally known as “Jerusalem”, although some early accounts do refer to the area as “Wantagh”. The creek running north/south through Wantagh, and which has been covered up in many places but is still visible between the Wantagh Parkway and the housing developments west of Wantagh Avenue, was originally the Jerusalem River. The original post office was built in 1837, for Jerusalem, but mail service from Brooklyn began around 1780. The town’s first school was established in 1790.   At some time around the 1880s, Jerusalem was renamed Ridgewood, and the town’s original LIRR station was named “Ridgewood Station”. Later, Ridgewood was renamed Wantagh to avoid confusion with another town in New York State with the same name.

George Washington rode through Jerusalem on April 21, 1790, as part of his 5-day tour of Long Island. The Daughters of the American Revolution have placed a plaque on Hempstead Turnpike  to commemorate Washington’s travels, which took him from Hempstead  on Jerusalem Road to Jerusalem, on to Merrick Road. He then went on to head east, then circle back west on the north shore. During the Revolutionary War, British ships traveled up Jones inlet and came ashore to raid Jerusalem farms

The oldest original settlers of the Wantagh/Jerusalem area were the Jackson and Seaman families, and their marks are still visible today. For example, the Cherrywood shopping center (at the corner of Jerusalem and Wantagh avenues) was the site of prominent settler Capt. John Seaman’s estate, which was named Cherrywood. Wantagh is home to a number of New York State Historical Markers (9 of Nassau County’s 25),  including:

  • Cherrywood, Capt. John Seaman’s 300-acre (1.2 km2) estate and home, from 1644, on the corner of Wantagh and Jerusalem avenues
  • 1666 Jackson House, the home of Col. John Jackson, Brig. Gen. Jacob Shearman Jackson, and Samuel Jackson Jones (in 1923), on Merrick Road east of Riverside Drive
  • The Grist Mill Site, granted to Col. John Jackson on the Jerusalem River in 1704, on Merrick Road east of Riverside Drive
  • The Cornbury Patent, given by Queen Anne conferring the present-day site of Jones Beach to Major Thomas Jones, whose family would later provide the land that would become Jones Beach State Park in 1929
  • The 1644 home of Robert Jackson, Jerusalem’s pioneer settler, on Wantagh Avenue south of Hempstead Avenue
  • North Jerusalem Road, originally constructed in 1644 between Hempstead and Jerusalem
  • The 1777 home of Richard Jackson, Captain in the Queens County Militia in the Revolutionary War, and where his daughter, Jane, lived with her husband, ex-Hessian soldier Lt. John Althause, on Wantagh Avenue and Island Road

The oldest cemetery in Wantagh is the Jackson Cemetery, located just north of the St. Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church on Wantagh Avenue.  There are 63 confirmed graves that include descendants from the Seaman and Jackson families, with the most notable including Thomas Jackson, who served in the Revolutionary War in the Second New York Regiment and participated in the Battle of Long Island  and the storming of Fort St. George under Major Talmadge in 1780, and who was the original landowner of the site of land around the Wantagh Public Library; and General Jacob Seaman Jackson, a brigadier general in the War of 1813  and senior warden of Long Island’s first chartered Masonic Lodge  in 1797.

GLC 1st Manhattan 2017

Grand Lecturers Convention First Manhattan

March 23, 2017

On March 23, the First Manhattan district hosted the Grand Lecturers Convention.  A dinner meeting at Raymi Restaurant preceded the convention.  The convention was held in the ionic Room on the sixth floor of Grand Lodge.  The Middle Chamber Lecture was the work once again.

The MCL was divided among four brothers who rendered an outstanding lecture.  The ritual work was performed with precision and emotion which evoked many conversations as they worked through the lecture.  There was a great interchange of ideas among those in attendance.  Many of the deep and meaningful lessons the MCL presents were discussed in length.  As always, the depth and the exact path of the discussions was driven by the participants.

The GLC was attended by standing room only Brethren.  Before we started, more seats had to be brought in.  What a delightful problem to have.  RW Sam Kinsey thanked all present for participating in the “New First”.


Kudos to Washington 21 and Mariners 67 for receiving and qualifying for the Macham and Potts Awards respectively.  In addition, Allied No. 1170 also qualified for the Potts Award.


Thaddeus Kosciuszko

Thaddeus Kosciuszko

Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko, February, 1746 – October 15, 1817 was a Polish–Lithuanian military engineer and a military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States.  He fought in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth’s struggles against Russia and Prussia, and on the American side in the American Revolutionary War. As Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces, he led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising.

Kościuszko was born in February 1746 in a manor house on the Puslowski estate called Mereczowszczyzna in Slonim, Belarus, near Polesie and Brest-Litovsk, which was formerly a part of Novogrod (“White Russia”), a territory of the former Lithuanian Grand Duchy; his exact birthdate is unknown. At age 20, he graduated from the Corps of Cadets in Warsaw, Poland, but after the outbreak of a civil war involving the Bar Confederation in 1768, Kościuszko moved to France in 1769 to pursue further studies.  Kościuszko moved to North America, where he took part in the American Revolutionary War as a colonel in the Continental Army. An accomplished military architect, he designed and oversaw the construction of state-of-the-art fortifications, including those at West Point, New York. In 1783, in recognition of his services, the Continental Congress promoted him to brigadier general.

Returning to Poland in 1784, Kościuszko was commissioned a major general in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Army in 1789. After the Polish–Russian War of 1792 had resulted in the Second Partition of Poland, he organized an uprising against Russia in March 1794, serving as its Naczelnik (commander-in-chief). Russian forces captured him at the Battle of Maciejowice in October 1794. The defeat of the Kościuszko Uprising that November led to Poland’s Third Partition in 1795, which ended the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth’s independent existence for 123 years. In 1796, following the death of Tsaritsa Catherine the Great, Kościuszko was pardoned by her successor, Tsar Paul I, and he emigrated to the United States. A close friend of Thomas Jefferson, with whom he shared ideals of human rights, Kościuszko wrote a will in 1798 dedicating his American assets to the education and freedom of U.S. slaves. He eventually returned to Europe and lived in Switzerland until his death in 1817. The execution of his will later proved difficult and the funds were never used for the purpose he had intended

GLC 7th Manhattan 2017

Grand Lecturer Convention 7th Manhattan

March 22, 2017

The annual GLC in the 7th Manhattan District was held on March 22.  The convention was held in the Renaissance Room on the 6th floor of Grand Lodge and was hosted by Joseph Warren Lodge 934.  The convention began promptly at 8, immediately following Joseph Warren’s communication.

A brief discussion was held on both the Grand Master’s edict, constituting lodges to become certified in opening and closing.  The new Additional Proficiency in open lodge was also explained.  The discussion and ritual performance of the Middle Chamber Lecturer consumed the rest of the evening.  As always the discussion was based on the direction those in attendance steered it.  New and enlightening exchanges covered many of the nuances and the meaning and esoteric of the MCL.  There was great discussion and all in attendance discovered previous unknown meaning to the lecture.

Congratulation to Perfect Square 204 and Joseph Warren for qualifying for the Potts Award.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper located on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets in Midtown, Manhattan, New York City. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet, and with its antenna included, it stands a total of 1,454 feet tall.  Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years, from its completion in early 1931 until the topping out of the original World Trade Center’s North Tower in late 1970.   The Empire State Building is currently the fifth-tallest completed skyscraper in the United States and the 34th-tallest in the world.

The Empire State Building is an American cultural icon. It is designed in the distinctive Art Deco style and has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The building and its street floor interior are designated landmarks of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and confirmed by the New York City Board of Estimate.  It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.  In 2007, it was ranked number one on the AIA’s List of America’s Favorite Architecture.

The site of the Empire State Building was first developed as the John Thompson Farm in the late 18th century  At the time, a stream ran across the site, emptying into Sunfish Pond, located a block away. Beginning in the late 19th century, the block was occupied by the Waldorf – Astoria Hotel frequented by The Four Hundred, the social elite of New York.

The limestone for the Empire State Building came from the Empire Mill in Sanders, Indiana which is an unincorporated town adjacent to Bloomington, Indiana. The Empire Mill Land office is near State Road 37 and Old State Road 37 just south of Bloomington. The Bloomington, Bedford, and Oolitic area is known locally as the limestone capital of the world.

The Empire State Building was designed by William Lamb   from the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, which produced the building drawings n just two weeks, using its earlier designs for the Reynolds Building in Winston Salem, North Carolina.   The building was designed from the top down.  The general contractors were The Starrett Brothers and Eken, and the project was financed primarily by John J. Raskob and Pierre S. du Pont.   The construction company was chaired by Alfred E. Smith a former Governor.

Excavation of the site began on January 22, 1930, and construction on the building itself started on March 17—St. Patrick’s Day—per Al Smith’s influence as Empire State, Inc. president. The project involved 3,400 workers, mostly immigrants from Europe, along with hundreds of Mohawk  iron workers, many from the Kahnawke reserve near Montreal.  According to official accounts, five workers died during the construction. Governor Smith’s grandchildren cut the ribbon on May 1, 1931. Lewis Wickes Hine’s photography of the construction provides not only invaluable documentation of the construction, but also a glimpse into common day life of workers in that era.

The construction was part of an intense competition in New York for the title of “world’s tallest building”. Two other projects fighting for the title, 40 Wall Street  and the Chrysler Building, were still under construction when work began on the Empire State Building. Each held the title for less than a year, as the Empire State Building surpassed them upon its completion, on April 11, 1931, 12 days ahead of schedule, just 410 days after construction commenced.  The building was officially opened on May 1, 1931 in dramatic fashion, when United States President Herbert Hoover  turned on the building’s lights with the push of a button from Washington, D.C. Ironically, the first use of tower lights atop the Empire State Building, the following year, was for the purpose of signaling the victory of Franklin D. Roosevelt  over Hoover in the presidential election of November 1932.

The building’s opening coincided with the Great Depression  in the United States, and as a result much of its office space was initially unrented. The building’s vacancy was exacerbated by its poor location on 34th Street, which placed it relatively far from public transportation, as Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, built decades beforehand, are several blocks away.

GLC Faithful Fifth 2017

This year’s host for the annual GLC in the Fifth Manhattan was Carpenter Emanuel Lodge No. 588. After a social hour, dinner, and meeting with many of the district leadership, the convention was promptly open at 8:00 by the DDGM; RW Arto Vandian. After a brief discussion on the Grand Master’s edict for lodges to certify for opening and closing and a demonstration and discussion of the new Additional Open Lodge Proficiency, the Middle Chamber Lecture portion of the convention began.
The rationale for dividing the MCL was addressed before the actual ritual performance. The MCL was presented in a very professional manner and the discussions on the very important and deep meaning of the lecture were discussed, sometimes in great length. All in attendance were treated to some memorable views on what the lecture entail. Discussion actually caused us to run a little late. But, if the Brethren are carrying the discussion, I hesitate to cut it short.
It was truly a Great Night for the Faithful Fifth.

Congratulations to George Washington 285 for receiving the Meacham Award for outstanding ritual and to Amity 323 and Carpenter Emanuel 588 for qualifying for the Potts Award.

F.W. Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building

The Woolworth Building, at 233 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, designed by architect Cass Gilbert and constructed between 1910 and 1912, is an early US skyscraper. The original site for the building was purchased by F. W. Woolworth and his real estate agent Edward J. Hogan by April 15, 1910, from the Trenor Luther Park Estate and other owners for $1.65 million. By January 18, 1911, Woolworth and Hogan had acquired the final site for the project, totaling $4.5 million. More than a century after the start of its construction, it remains, at 792 feet, one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States as well as one of the 30 tallest buildings in New York City. It has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966, and a New York City landmark since 1983.

The Woolworth Building was designed in the neo Gothic style.  It was to be the company’s new corporate headquarters on Broadway, between Park Place and Barclay Street in Lower Manhattan opposite City Hall.   Originally designed to be 420 feet high, the building was eventually elevated to 792 feet (241 m).   At its opening, the Woolworth Building was 60 stories tall and had over 5,000 windows.  The construction cost was US$13.5 million. With Irving National Exchange Bank Woolworth set up the Broadway-Park Place Company to finance the building, but by May 1914, had purchased all of the shares from the bank, thus owning the building outright. On completion, the Woolworth building topped the record set by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower as the world’s tallest building.

Construction was completed in 1912 and the building opened on April 24, 1913. President Woodrow Wilson turned the lights on by way of a button in Washington D.C. that evening  Given its resemblance to European Gothic cathedrals, the structure was called “The Cathedral of Commerce” by the Reverend S. Parkes Cadman in a booklet of the same title published in 1916.  It remained the tallest building in the world until the construction of 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, also in New York City, in 1930; an observation deck on the 57th floor attracted visitors until 1941.

The building’s tower, flush with the main frontage on Broadway, joins an office block base with a narrow interior court for light. The exterior decoration was cast in limestone-colored, glazed architectural terra-cotta  panels.  Strongly articulated piers, carried—without interrupting cornices right to the pyramidal cap, give the building its upward thrust. The Gothic detailing concentrated at the highly visible crown is over scaled, able to be read from the street level several hundred feet below.  Engineers Gunvald Aus and Kort Berle  designed the steel frame, supported on massive caissons that penetrate to the bedrock. The high-speed elevators were innovative, and the building’s high office-to-elevator ratio made the structure profitable.

The ornate, cruciform lobby, is “one of the most spectacular of the early 20th century in New York City”  It is covered in Skyros  veined marble,  has a vaulted  ceiling, mosaics, a stained-glass ceiling light and bronze fittings. Over the balconies of the mezzanine are the murals Labor and Commerce. Corbel sculptures include Gilbert with a model of the building, Aus taking a girder’s measurements, and Woolworth counting nickels.  Woolworth’s private office, revetted in marble in the French Empire style, has been preserved.  The building’s facade was restored between 1977 and 1981,  during which much of the terra-cotta was replaced with concrete and Gothic ornament was removed.  The building was owned by the Woolworth company for 85 years until 1998, when the Venator Group  (formerly the F.W. Woolworth Company sold it to the Witkoff Group  for $155 million

Staten Island

Staten Island

Staten Island is one of the five boroughs of New York City.   In the southwest of the city, Staten Island is the southernmost part of both the city and state of New York, with Conference House Park at the southern tip of the island and the state.  The borough is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay.  The borough is coextensive with Richmond County, and until 1975 was the Borough of Richmond.  Its flag was later changed to reflect this. Staten Island has been sometimes called “the forgotten borough” by inhabitants who feel neglected by the city government.

The North Shore—especially the neighborhoods of St. George, Tompkinsville, Clifton, and Stapleton—is the most urban part of the island; it contains the designated St. George Historic District and the St. Paul’s Avenue-Stapleton Heights Historic District, which feature large Victorian houses. The East Shore is home to the 2.5-mile F.D.R. Boardwalk, the fourth-longest in the world. The South Shore, site of the 17th-century Dutch and French Huguenot settlement, developed rapidly beginning in the 1960s and 1970s and is now mostly suburban in character. The West Shore is the least populated and most industrial part of the island.

Motor traffic can reach the borough from Brooklyn via the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and from New Jersey via the Outerbridge Crossing, Goethals Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge. Staten Island has Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus lines and an MTA rapid transit line, the Staten Island Railway, which runs from the ferry terminal at St. George to Tottenville. Staten Island is the only borough that is not connected to the New York City Subway system. The free Staten Island Ferry connects the borough to Manhattan and is a popular tourist attraction, providing views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan.

Staten Island had the Fresh Kills Landfill, which was the world’s largest landfill before closing in 2001 although it was temporarily reopened that year to receive debris from the September 11 attacks.  The landfill is being redeveloped as Freshkills Park, an area devoted to restoring habitat; the park will become New York City’s second largest public par when completed.

As in much of North America, human habitation appeared in the island fairly rapidly after the retreat of the ice sheet. Archeologists have recovered tool evidence of Clovis culture activity dating from about 14,000 years ago. This evidence was first discovered in 1917 in the Charleston section of the island. Various Clovis artifacts have been discovered since then, on property owned by Mobil Oil

The island was probably abandoned later, possibly because of the extirpation of large mammals on the island. Evidence of the first permanent Native American settlements and agriculture are thought to date from about 5,000 years ago,  although early archaic habitation evidence has been found in multiple locations on the island.

Rossville points are a distinct type of arrowhead that defines a Native American cultural period that runs from the archaic period to the Early Woodland period, dating from about 1500 to 100 BC. They are named for the Rossville section of Staten Island, where they were first found near the old Rossville Post Office building.   Skeletons unearthed at Lenape burial ground in Staten Island, the largest pre-European burial ground in NYC

At the time of European contact, the island was inhabited by the Raritan band  of the Unami    division of the Lenape. The Lenape, who spoke Lenape one of the Algonquian languages called Staten Island Aquehonga Manacknong, meaning “as far as the place of the bad woods”, or Eghquhous, meaning “the bad woods”.  The area was part of the Lenape homeland known as Lenapehoking . The Lenape were later called the “Delaware” by the English colonists because they inhabited both shores of what the English named the Delaware River.  

The island was laced with Native American foot trails, one of which followed the south side of the ridge near the course of present-day Richmond Road and Amboy Road. The Lenape did not live in fixed encampments, but moved seasonally, using slash and burn agriculture. Shellfish was a staple of their diet, including the Eastern oyster abundant in the waterways throughout the present-day New York City region. Evidence of their habitation can still be seen in shell middens along the shore in the Tottenville section, where oyster shells larger than 12 inches are not uncommon.

Burial Ridge, a Lenape burial ground on a bluff overlooking Raritan Bay in what is today the Tottenville section of Staten Island, is the largest pre-European burial ground in New York City. Bodies have been reported unearthed at Burial Ridge from 1858 onward. After conducting independent research, which included unearthing bodies interred at the site, ethnologist and archeologist George Pepper, was contracted in 1895 to conduct paid archaeological research at Burial Ridge by the American Museum of Natural. The burial ground today is unmarked and lies within Conference House Park.

The first recorded European contact with the island was in 1520 by Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano, who on behalf of the Kingdom of France’s Francis I sailed through The Narrows  on the ship La Dauphine, which originally had departed from Le Havre and anchored for one night.

In 1609, the English explorer Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutchess Republic, sailed into Upper New York Bay on his ship the Half Moon. The Dutch named the island as Staaten Eylandt (literally “States Island”), in honor of the Dutch parliament

The first permanent Dutch settlement of the New Netherland   colony was made on Governor’s Island   in 1624, which they had used as a trading camp for more than a decade before. In 1626 the colony transferred to the island of Manhattan, which was newly designated as the capital of New Netherland.

The Dutch did not establish a permanent settlement on Staaten Eylandt for many decades. From 1639 to 1655, Cornelius Melyn   and David de Vries  made three separate attempts to establish a permanent settlement on the island, but each time the settlement was destroyed in the conflicts between the Dutch and the local tribe.  In 1661, the first permanent Dutch settlement was established at Oude Dorp (Dutch for “Old Village”),  just south of the Narrows near South Beach by a small group of Dutch, Walloon, and French Huguenot families. Many French Huguenots, who were Protestant, had gone to the Netherlands as refugees from the religious wars in France; some joined the emigration to New Netherland. The last vestige of Oude Dorp is the name of the present-day neighborhood of Old Town, adjacent to Old Town Road.

GLC Bronx District 2017

As usual the annual Grand Lecturer Convention is held on City Island.  The convention was rescheduled from March 16 because of a nasty snow and ice storm which paralyzed the city.  I was driven to the convention by my trusted and good friend RW Donald Mattson.  The trip from Grand Lodge is long enough for us to both catch up on each other’s fife.

All in attendance were treated to Lou Jeur’s  famous meatloaf.  Lou and his wife Sonja along with their great friend Susan  created a wonderful meal.  As the convention moved up to the lodge room, I presented Pelham Lodge 712 with the Meacham Award for their outstanding ritual last year.  The convention as always centered around the Middle Chamber Lecture.  As we progressed through the lecture and the ensuing discussions, it became obvious that those in attendance were quite involved and willing participants in the discussions.  It was a great convention and I can’t wait to visit again.

In closing, the Bronx, though a district comprising of only 4 lodges, is a very well knit district.  The lodges are all involved with their many district projects including blood drives and the Masonic Child ID Program.  In addition, they are always willing to assist a fellow lodge in their endeavors.  My hat is off to the BRONX.

The Bronx

The Bronx

Home of the New York Yankees

The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City.  It is geographically south of Westchester County; north and east of the island and borough of Manhattan to the south and west across the Harlem River; and north of the borough of Queens, across the East River. Of the five boroughs, the Bronx is the only one that has the majority of its area on the U.S. mainland.   Since 1914, the Bronx has had the same boundaries as Bronx County.

The Bronx is divided by the Bronx River into a hillier section in the west, closer to Manhattan, and a flatter eastern section, closer to Long Island. East and west street addresses are divided by Jerome Avenue—the continuation of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The West Bronx was annexed to New York City in 1874, and the areas east of the Bronx River in 1895.  Bronx County was separated from New York County in 1914.   About a quarter of the Bronx’s area is open space,  including Woodlawn Cemetery, Van Cortlandt Park, Pelham Bay Park, the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo in the borough’s north and center. These open spaces are situated primarily on land deliberately reserved in the late 19th century as urban development progressed north and east from Manhattan.

The name “Bronx” originated with Jonas Bronck, who established the first settlement in the area as part of the New Netherland colony in 1639.  The native Lenape were displaced after 1643 by settlers. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bronx received many immigrant groups as it was transformed into an urban community, first from various European countries (particularly Ireland, Germany and Italy) and later from the Caribbean region (particularly Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic), as well as African American migrants from the southern United States.  This cultural mix has made the Bronx a wellspring of both Latin music and hip hop.

The Bronx was called Rananchqua  by the native Siwanoy  band of Lenape (also known historically as the Delawares), while other Native Americans knew the Bronx as Keskeskeck.  It was divided by the Aquahung River.

The origin of Jonas Bronck (c. 1600–43) is contested. Some sources claim he was a Swedish born emigrant, who arrived in New Netherland during the spring of 1639.  Bronck became the first recorded European settler in the area now known as the Bronx and built a farm named “Emmanus” close to what today is the corner of Willis Avenue and 132nd Street in Mott Haven He leased land from the Dutch West India Company on the neck of the mainland immediately north of the Dutch settlement in Harlem and bought additional tracts from the local tribes. He eventually accumulated 500 acres between the Harlem River and the Aquahung, which became known as Bronck’s River or the Bronx [River]. Dutch and English settlers referred to the area as Bronck’s Land.  The American poet William Bronk was a descendant of Pieter Bronck, either Jonas Bronck’s son or his younger brother.  More recent research indicates that Pieter was probably Jonas’ nephew or cousin, but certainly of the same family.

The Bronx is referred to with the definite article as “The Bronx,” both legally  and colloquially.  The County of Bronx does not place “The” immediately before “Bronx” in formal references, unlike the coextensive Borough of the Bronx, nor does the United States Postal Service in its database of Bronx addresses.  The region was apparently named after the Bronx River and first appeared in the “Annexed District of The Bronx” created in 1874 out of part of Westchester County. It was continued in the “Borough of The Bronx”, which included a larger annexation from Westchester County in 1898. The use of the definite article is attributed to the style of referring to rivers.   Another explanation for the use of the definite article in the borough’s name is that the original form of the name was a possessive or collective one referring to the family, as in visiting “the Broncks”, “the Bronck’s,” or “the Broncks

The development of the Bronx is directly connected to its strategic location between New England and Manhattan.  Control over the bridges across the Harlem River plagued the period of British colonial rule. The King’s Bridge, built in 1693 where Broadway reached the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, was a possession of Frederick Philipse, lord of Philipse Manor. The tolls were resented by local farmers on both sides of the creek. In 1759, the farmers, led by Jacobus Dyckman and Benjamin Palmer, built a “free bridge” across the Harlem River,  which led to the abandonment of tolls altogether.

 The consolidation of the Bronx into New York City proceeded in two stages. In 1873, the state legislature annexed Kingsbridge, West Farms, and Morrisania to New York, effective in 1874; the three towns were abolished in the process.  The whole territory east of the Bronx River was annexed to the city in 1895, three years before New York’s consolidation with Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. This included the Town of Westchester (which had voted against consolidation in 1894) and portions of Eastchester and Pelham.  The nautical community of City Island voted to join the city in 1896.  On January 1, 1898, the consolidated City of New York was born, including the Bronx as one of the five distinct Boroughs.  

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