Early Daily Life


Island resident Ruby Dill taught kindergarten at P. S. 17 from the 1920s to the 1960s. P. S. 17 was located at 190 Fordham Street, which now houses the City Island Nautical Museum and has recently been designated a New York City landmark. Many Islanders remember Mrs. Dill with great fondness, although they recall being quite intimidated by Mrs. Fitzpatrick, the principal!

August Belmont’s transit company, the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), which is still in existence, built and operated the famed and fated City Island monorail, which operated from July 1910 until April 1914, the first of its kind in New York City. An experimental monorail displayed at an exposition in Virginia in 1907 impressed the IRT management, which obtained permission for a similar electric monorail to run from the Bartow station to the City Island bridge, through what is now Turtle Cove. Although dubbed “The Flying Lady,” the monorail car fell over on its first run because it went around a corner too quickly, and operation was suspended until November. It never achieved the success the IRT had hoped for, so in 1913 the line was converted to an electric trolley system, and the tracks from the park to Belden Point were converted to standard gauge. The monorail stopped running in April 1914, and the IRT sold the company to the Third Avenue Railway. A few months later the last horse car in the Bronx stopped operating, and a few minutes after that, the first storage-battery car began its run from Bartow Station to City Island.

Fishing has always been a favorite pastime on City Island, first from the original 1873 City Island bridge and then, because fishing was not allowed from the new bridge, from the long pier at Belden Point, the southern tip of the island. When that pier was demolished in the 1960s, fishermen had few options other than to rent a boat or go on a party boat to fish, a situation that continues to exist except for those with access to private beaches.

Cook’s Diner was an island institution for many years. It opened in the 1930s between Bay and Fordham Streets on the east side of City Island Avenue and survived many changes in later years, as Spouter’s Inn (famous for its pies), Tijuana Trolley (a Mexican restaurant), Shanghai Express (a Chinese restaurant), and others. It was demolished and replaced after the turn of the 21st century by the Library Bar (now closed).


The next time (and every time) you shop at Amazon, go to
select the City Island Historical Society as your charity of choice, and 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases will be made to the Nautical Museum.


Become a Museum Member

The City Island Nautical Museum is operated by the City Island Historical Society, a not-for-profit organization, which relies on donations, grants, and membership dues. Admission to the museum is $5 per person (no charge for members and children under 12). We welcome new members as well as contributions to our general fund and to our endowment fund, and all donations are tax deductible. Annual membership dues are: Individual $20; Family $25; Corporate $50; Student $10. Please make checks payable to the City Island Historical Society and send to City Island Historical Society, P.O. Box 82, Bronx, NY 10464.


Open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and by special appointment.

The City Island Nautical Museum wishes to thank the following City Island businesses that have become Corporate Members.

A-Quality Glass
Barron's Marine Services, Inc.
City Island Beer Company
CI Construction
City Island Pharmacy
City Island Sunoco
City Island Yacht Club
Connie's New Way Market
Consolidated Yachts, Inc.
Eben Hansmire
Charles Mandel
Seafood City
Drs. Robert Seigle and
Audell Ray
Tony's Pier Restaurant

Thanks in part to Councilmember James Vacca, CIHS received a larger grant than usual this year from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. This funding will enable us to mount two important exhibitions in the spring—the work of Mark Whitcombe and images of the City Island Bridge. If you have works of art that you would consider lending to either show, please call to let us know. Ron Terner of Focal Point Gallery will be curator of Mark’s show; call him at 718-885-1403. Bridge artists should call 718-885-0507. The show on the yacht building will remain in place until December 18, when we close for the season.


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