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Pelham Bay Park History & Highlights

Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City. That’s right. Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City and it is more than three times the size of Central Park! It’s located in The Bronx, New York City’s northernmost borough, and the only borough attached to the continental United States.

The land that Pelham Bay Park is situated on officially became a park in 1888 but it wasn’t until the 1930s/40s that New York City Park Commissioner at the time, Robert Moses, transformed it into the place we know and love today.

With that in mind, let’s explore some of its secrets…

Man-Made Beach

One of Pelham Bay Park’s most impressive features is a man-made beach known by some as “The Riviera of New York City.” Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park was part of Robert Moses’ redesign and cost approximately $8 million to create! Much of Orchard Beach was built during the great depression as part of the Works Project Administration. Over $75 million has been raised for renovating the pavilion to breathe new life into these WPA (Work Projects Administration) structures.

In addition to a sandy shorefront that spans over a mile in length, Orchard Beach has a promenade perfect for a sunny afternoon stroll, and a lovely area packed with shops and tasty food stands! The park is also a great place to bring kids. You and your family can spend the day splashing in the waves or playing on one of the two Pelham Bay Park playgrounds. You will also find abundant year-round handball, basketball, and volleyball courts – with beautiful views of the water! On either side of the beach, you will also find picnic areas that allow barbecuing. Pro tip: it’s a great place for a Fourth of July family gathering!

Historic Mansion Museum

Situated in the heart of Pelham Bay Park, the gorgeous Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum(opens in a new tab) sits in all its 1842 glory. The mansion is built on land originally owned by Thomas Pell and became home to a distant Pell relative named Robert Bartow. In 1946, the mansion was transformed into a museum that seeks to preserve the last remaining 19th century estate in the Bronx for generations to come.

The Bartow-Pell Mansion is elegant, with neo-classical stone architecture. It is one of the earliest restoration projects in our country’s history and is both a city and a national landmark. It boasts a carriage house and gorgeous landscaped gardens to explore, as well as a Bartow-Pell family memorial plot. Among the artifacts in the museum is a desk that belonged to Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr was a former U.S. Vice President who gained notoriety after killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. If you’re a fan of the musical Hamilton, you’ll recall Burr sings a song called “Dear Theodosia.” The song is about a distant Bartow relative, Theodosia, whom Burr married.

If you enjoy exploring beautifully preserved houses and learning about bygone eras, visiting this museum is an experience you will forever treasure. The museum also hosts special events ranging from historical lectures to vegetable gardening classes in the mansion’s very own vegetable garden! A great little addition to your Pelham Bay Park day out.

Nature Trails

Kazimiroff Nature Trail was funnily enough named after a dental surgeon! Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff was a dentist who was also dedicated to preserving the delicate ecosystems of the Bronx. After his death in 1980, this section of the park was named after him.

The nature trail consists of two loops, the first is the blue “outer loop” which is 2.3 miles in length and takes you on a stroll through white oaks, tulip trees, and black locusts. You will also be treated to giant Norway Spruce trees (this is the tree of choice for Rockefeller Center when choosing a Christmas tree each year!) planted by the parks department in 1918. Keep your eyes open and you may spot some deer and raccoons! The second trail is the red “inner loop” and is one mile in length. Here, you can meander through wildflowers and climb on giant boulders (great for the kids to run around and play on). Look carefully and you’ll see scars on the trees from a past wildfire! Both loops are dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends. Just make sure you also bring a leash and plenty of plastic baggies to clean up after them.

To learn even more about this park’s rich history or to have a local guide show you the highlights, book a tour with one of our friendly guides today!(opens in a new tab)

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