EYE ON NATURE, artists explore the world of plants and animals
Saturday, Sept. 8th at 12:45 Opening Reception
panel discussion with the artists followed by
Guest Speaker: Stephen Paul DeVillo
Stephen was my guide for a short canoe jaunt on the Bronx River. Seeing it from the water offered a new perspective, not only for the stunning views, but I could see firsthand the invasive species that have taken hold there. His book is a portrait of the river, touching on diverse subjects: the relationships of its inhabitants from the Native Americans and European settlers through today, legends, cultural history, use of the river in times of war, the exploitation of the river from commerce and industry, and environmental issues.
DM: Where does the Bronx River begin and end?
SPDV: The original sources of the Bronx River lie beneath the Kensico Reservoir. The
present-day designated source of the river is at the end of Davis Brook in Valhalla. The river ends in the East River/Long Island Sound between Clason Point and Hunts Point in The Bronx.
DM: What is your favorite spot along the river why?
SPDV: The Bronx River Gorge in the New York Botanical Garden. Surrounded by a
restored native forest, it is the most scenic and geologically interesting reach of the river.
DM: Researching your book, what topic interested you the most?
SPDV: I have a special interest in 18 th century American History, so the Bronx River’s
role in the American Revolution I found fascinating, especially the Battle of White Plains in 1776, where the river quite literally rose to the occasion and helped to preserve the Revolution.
DM: What did you discover that surprised you?
SPDV: Pursuing my research for the book, I was surprised to learn just how rich the river
is in both history and folklore, as well as its environmental diversity, quite remarkable for a river that is only 23 miles long.
DM: What are some of the major attractions along the river?
SPDV: The major attractions are the nearly completed Bronx River Greenway in The
Bronx, and the Bronx River Parkway Reservation in Westchester, both of which provide a multi-use recreational trail following the river. Apart from the Bronx River Gorge and the Bronx Zoo, there are a series of new or revitalized riverside parks in The Bronx – Muskrat Cove, Shoelace Park, Starlight Park, Concrete Plant Park, Soundview Park, and Hunts Point Riverside Park. In Westchester there are the Garth Woods in Scarsdale, and the Kensico Dam.
DM: What would you like people to take away from reading your book?
SPDV: An understanding of the Bronx River as a unique community resource that is worth preserving and caring for.
DM: What are the key environmental issues facing the river today?
Storm water runoff and combined sewer outflows, and consequent bacterial contamination.
Streambank erosion and water turbidity
Nitrate fertilizer runoff and algae blooms
Invasive/non-native plants, vines, and shrubs
Floatable litter and debris
DM: What 3 things can people do in their everyday life to help protect the river?
Reduce use of plastics
Do not dump wastewater or liquids in storm sewers
DM: How can people get involved in the protection and restoration of the river?
SPDV: Participate in river organizations such as the Bronx River Alliance, the Bronx River Parkway Reservation Conservancy, Rocking the Boat, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the Garth Woods Conservancy, etc., and take part in volunteer restoration activities.
DM: You lead “rambles” along the river both on land and on the water. How can
people find out about these excursions?
SPDV:Check out the Calendar of Events at the Bronx River Alliance web site
DM: Any upcoming events?
SPDV: October 7 th Bronx River Ramble exploring the Tuckahoe Marble quarrying
industry along the river and its social history. Meet at 11am at the Metro North
DM: What else would like people to know about you or your work?
SPDV: I have an interest in the “micro-history” of particular places, integrating local folklore and the environment with social, political, and industrial history to develop a picture of what makes each place unique. Apart from my recent book on The Bowery, upcoming projects include the history of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, the Old West Farms Soldiers’ Cemetery, and a collection of New York City ghost stories that reflect the city’s unique history and character.
BIO: A local historian and lifelong Bronxite who grew up along the Bronx River, Stephen Paul DeVillo is the author of The Bronx River in History and Folklore (2015) and The Bowery: The Strange History of New York’s Oldest Street (2017). A former Development Associate for the Bronx River Alliance, he conducts the Bronx River Rambles historical and environmental walking tours, as well as occasional on-water canoe tours of the river in the Bronx.
Participating artists: Julia Ruth
Jenn Deutscher www.alithographica.com
Maria Giuliani. http://mariagiuliani.com
Donna Miskend www.donnamiskend.com and https://donnamiskend.blogspot.com