Spuyten Duyvil: The Duyvil’s in the Details

The Henry Hudson Bridge overlooking the Harlem River in front of the Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North train station. Photo from tribecacitizen.com

In Dutch, “Spuyten Duyvil,” the most-accepted spelling these days, can be pronounced two ways; one pronunciation can be translated as “devil’s whirlpool” and the other can be translated as “spite the devil.” Spuyten Duyvil is an upper middle class neighborhood of the Bronx, New York City, located in the upper Northwest corner of the the Bronx and New York City as a whole. The neighborhood is located where the Harlem River branches off from the Hudson River, directly across from Manhattan Island and what is today the Inwood neighborhood. Today its area has many other traces of the Dutch including the Harlem River, the Hudson River, and the Henry Hudson Bridge, named after the explorer sent by the Dutch to settle the region. Other Dutch neighborhoods are also close by such as Manhattan and Yonkers to the North.  We picked this neighborhood because one of our group’s members, Trevor, passed by the Spuyten Duyvil train station on his way to Poughkeepsie and instantly recognized the name’s Dutch origins.

When the Dutch settled here in the 1600s, they named the creek flowing around the neighborhood “Spuyten Duyvil.” The reason for this name, roughly translating to “devil’s whirlpool,” is due to legends of events happening in the river. According to some, a Dutch messenger was sent to the Spuyten Duyvil neighborhood by way of the creek, but the waters were so turbulent that he was swept away and the river took his life. They say that it was the “Spite of the Devil” that caused the messenger to pass away on his journey. 

The neighborhood began to develop during the later half of the 18th century along with the construction of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad along the Harlem River. Although the larger development came after the Dutch settlers, the name comes from Spuyten Duyvil Creek, named for a Dutch settler Anthony Van Corlaer, who in 1642 died while attempting to swim across the creek. Later in the 17th century, Frederick Philipse, a Dutch immigrant built a toll bridge over the river in this location, furthering the Dutch influence in the area.  

Over 10,000 New Yorkers call this neighborhood home today and millions of riders on Metro-North’s Hudson Line pass through the station on their way to and from jobs in Manhattan and other parts of New York City. Thousands of cars also pass through the neighborhood and over the Harlem River on Route 9A and the Henry Hudson bridge enroute to and from Manhattan.

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Spuyten Duyvil

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Spuyten Duyvil 40.881164, -73.915407

 

Sources:

“History of the Name Spuyten Duyvil.” The New York Public Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

Haller, Vera. “Spuyten Duyvil, the Bronx, Defined by the Views.” The New York Times. N.p., 3 Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

NYC Gov Parks. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

Group Members: Andrew Hernandez, Trevor Matthews, Angela Feoli, Ryan Divins

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