City Island in the Bronx is a favorite destination for many New Yorkers looking for a beach-side escape where delicious seafood fair can be found. The traffic on the one road into this small neighborhood is not for the faint of heart, or the impatient, but a beautiful summer afternoon spent in City Island is a tradition most New Yorkers can’t go without. We’ve loved visiting the area for years with our kids, and enjoyed this latest visit as we learned more about the area.
Aside from the seafood, and small beach town feel, City Island has a rich maritime history, all of which is recorded and preserved at the City Island Nautical Museum. A former school building till between 1897-1898, this site has survived the test a time, a fire, and even budget cuts.
With a supportive community that spans as far as Germany and volunteer staff, such as Barbara Hoffman and Barbara Dolensek who kindly gave us a tour during our visit, the museum as been able to stay afloat and keep the history and memories alive.
Barbara Dolensek and Barbara Hoffman are incredible sources of information at the museum
It definitely could use some love though. The stairs leading up to this historic site are falling apart and in such bad shape that they are unusable.
City Island Nautical Museum is one of 40 NYC landmarked buildings competing for restoration grants totally $3 million from Partners in Preservation sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Community members and supporters can vote once a day till May 21, 2012.
Walking through this great site, I also noticed valuable, historic pieces like an old canon ball that had been shot during old battle, left exposed, and other antiquities which could be better preserved in cases and better displayed if the resources were available.
I am not a sailor, nor consider myself much of a nautical aficionado, however, the staff there is and their excitement and enthusiasm is contagious as they detail what each display is and the history of various items seen throughout. There is no doubt that a visit to this museum will leave with you with a wealth of knowledge not only about the maritime industry, but about City Island as well.
Should this site ever loose the support of its community, and no one there believes it to be the case, a lot of what is City Island, the culture, the history of its people, the labor and love of many involved in building the nautical history and business that influenced the industry world-wide, would be transferred to places like Newport and other areas off the island, thus ripping from it a piece of pride.
We enjoyed our visit and would love to see this museum succeed and grow. It’s a wonderful side of NYC history no one really thinks about, or might even be aware of, it would be great to continue to share it with our community and children.
Disclosure: I have partnered up with Partners in Preservation as a blog ambassador to help spread the word and raise awareness of select historical sites throughout the tri-state area. Though I am compensated for my time, I have not been instructed to express any particular point of view. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I am proud to be a part of something so significant and so important to the preservation of the history of my home.