Saturday, September 15, 2007

Enjoying the Riverdale!

In the late 1860's and early 1870's, many of New York City's prominent citizens had country homes north of the city in the countryside along the North River (the previous name given to the Hudson). The northern border of New York City was then the Harlem River, which forms the northern border of Manhattan Island. Theodore Roosevelt's father, for example, rented a house in Spuyten Duyvil for his family during the summer of 1870. Theodore Roosevelt was then 11 years old. The house was in the countryside not far from the North River. Will Dodge Jr., Theodore Roosevelt Sr.'s good friend, built a home for his family in Riverdale in 1863, pictured above. James Renwick, who designed Grace Church, was commissioned to design Greyston, as the house was named. Will Dodge's father, William Earl Dodge, was a well-known New York City merchant. Will's younger brother, Charley, owned a yacht which he kept nearby. During July of 1870, the Roosevelts enjoyed viewing fireworks with the Dodges aboard this yacht. Not far away, still in Riverdale, Mark Twain rented a house for several years. At about this time, Charles Loring Brace built a summer home for himself at the highest point in Dobbs Ferry, overlooking the river. Brace was the founder of the Children's Aid Society.

Source: Dodge, Phyllis B.. "Tales of the Phelps-Dodge Family." New York: New-York Historical Society, 1987.

Photo: Greyston, from the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation