The Bronx is positively teeming with green space, with two of the city's largest parks—Pelham Bay, which clocks in at a massive 2,772 acres, and the slightly smaller Van Cortlandt—situated within its borders. But those big parks aren't the only reason to head to the borough: The Bronx is full of smaller, less crowded spots where you can relax, sunbathe, play sports, or whatever your heart desires. Here are 10 of those spaces, including a former concrete plant in the South Bronx and a onetime reservoir further north.Read More
The Bronx's 10 Best Underrated Parks
These are 10 of the borough's best under-the-radar green spaces
Soundview Park may be one of the Bronx’s largest little-known parks. It occupies 205 acres at the point where the Bronx River opens into the East River, and was originally marshland before the Parks Department bought it in 1937. For many years, it was a partially-developed park surrounded by a tidal marsh; now, the marshland has been replaced with landfill, increasing the shoreline by 30 feet. Visitors come for amenities like baseball and soccer fields, a cricket pitch, basketball and handball courts, a running track and walking/biking paths. The raised elevation offers great views across Hunts Point toward Manhattan, as well.
Barretto Point Park
This former sand and gravel pit was abandoned for years, but reopened in 2006 after a $7.6 million as an 11-acre park. It is perhaps best known for the Floating Pool Lady, which is docked off the park’s beach on the western waterfront during summertime. The pool, as well as an amphitheater, kayak launch, fishing pier, playgrounds, and beach volleyball pit, bring a big crowd—surprising given the park’s remote location. It’s 20 minutes from the nearest subway, and it’s surrounded by industrial complexes, a busy truck route, and vacant lots. The view, too, is one-of-a-kind, looking out toward the jail on Rikers Island and the abandoned smallpox hospital on North Brother Island.
Concrete Plant Park
As the name suggests, this waterfront park is built on a former concrete plant that occupied site from the late 1940s to 1987. It opened as a park in 2009 after community organizations like the Bronx River Alliance worked to revitalize what had become an abandoned seven acres. The park creatively utilizes its gritty, industrial past with old industrial relics and warehouses on display, although they remain inaccessible to the public. The public amenities include a boat launch into the Bronx River, waterfront promenade, chess tables, and a well-used bike path. The vibe is far more quiet and isolated than most other waterfront parks in the city, as it’s cut off from the mainland by the Sheridan Expressway and an Amtrak line.
This park has been open in the Bronx for more than 100 years, and today, it’s a popular destination for naturalists, boasting 28 different tree species as well as a 3.3 acre lake home to turtles, ducks, and fish. It’s also home to the only swimming pool built in the Bronx by the Works Progress Administration, which is also the borough's largest. The Crotona Play Center, which holds the pool, may also appeal to architecture buffs: the Art Deco building was constructed under the WPA and features a monumental arched brick entryway, two towers topped with skylights and an interior courtyard. It was landmarked in 2007.
Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center
The Williamsbridge Oval sits on what was once a saucer-shaped reservoir. In 1934, it was handed over to Robert Moses to be transformed into green space. Because the park design emerged from a drained reservoir, the oval has two levels: there’s a running track and soccer field at the bottom of the former reservoir, with paths leading to playgrounds and courts for basketball, tennis and bocce, then stairs that lead to an “upper oval” that offers a decent sledding hill in the winter. The oval is also home to a recently-renovated recreation center, with membership offered by the NYC Parks Department.
Macombs Dam Park
Baseball fans are likely familiar with this Bronx park: It was built in the footprint of the original Yankee Stadium and offers views of the new one. Unsurprisingly, the park is outfitted with three different grass ballfields, used for softball, baseball, and Little League. The southern field was even built to replicate the field at Yankee Stadium, with a home base in the same spot Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter, and every other Yankee player once stood. The rest of the 28-acre park is home to handball and basketball courts, as well as a 400-meter track and an astroturf field.
This land was originally part of Crotona Park, which once spanned 155 acres, until it was cut up due to construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway in 1945. It wasn’t renamed Tremont Park until 1999 after extensive renovations to the green space. That revamp brought new chess tables, spray showers, a basketball court, baseball diamond and new landscaping. The entrance to the park is marked by an ornate, arched staircase that leads to a grassy field—this staircase once led to the Bronx Borough Hall, constructed here in 1897 and demolished in 1969. Although the staircase has fallen into some disrepair, the Parks Department has plans to restore it.
If you make it up to the historic Bronx Community College, stop by the tucked-away woodlands between the campus and the west Bronx waterfront. During the Revolutionary War, British troops set up small forts along this area, a steep slope that overlooks the Harlem River. In more recent years the parkland fell into disrepair and was even deemed “the city’s worst park” by New Yorkers for Parks between 2003 and 2006. That inspired a $500,000 restoration project in 2008. Today it’s a heavily-forested green space that’s low on amenities but commands a very impressive view of Upper Manhattan, all the way toward the Hudson River and New Jersey Palisades.
Printer’s Park underwent a $100 million renovation in 2010, with a design very much inspired by the area’s past. This large playground was built on land that once belonged to Richard March Hoe, the inventor of the Rotary Printing Press. Today it’s outfitted with play equipment whose steps mimic the press’s cylinders, and sweeping white curves resembling paper traveling through a printer. The playground is also eco-friendly: a spray shower recycles runoff water for irrigation of the plant beds, the rubber safety floors are made of 90 percent recycled material, granite blocks were built from remains of the West Side Highway, and the trees were selected for their ability to absorb stormwater.
Seton Falls Park
The 30 acres of preserved natural land that make up Seton Falls Park will make you forget the high-traffic roads surrounding the park. Rattlesnake Brook trickles through what feels more forest than park; it’s named after the rattlesnakes that once inhabited the area. Walking paths also lead to a man-made waterfall that flows from the park’s west side. (Pretty much the only built amenity here is a playground with spray showers.) The quiet, undisturbed atmosphere makes this a nice destination for bird watchers, as there are around thirty species that live within the park.