On January 1, 1898, a huge parade was staged on lower Broadway in Manhattan to mark the inauguration of the new city of Greater New York. The municipality, the largest in the United States, now consisted of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx. Of these, only The Bronx was on the mainland and had been previously part of the old city of New York along with Manhattan Island. Although the area was now designated The Bronx for the first time, the territory constituting the new borough had a long written history dating back to when Henry Hudson anchored the Half Moon by its shores in 1609. From 1639, when the first Europeans came to live in the area, it grew steadily from a collection of isolated frontier settlements to established colonial farms, past the terror of the American Revolution, to the creation of a suburban area undergoing increasing urbanization to become part of the thriving metropolis. In this sense, it took The Bronx almost three hundred years to be born. This is the story of how people who lived in the Bronx coped with those changing conditions. It is told in their own words as recorded in their journals, diaries, letters, and memoirs. Because some of their writings, especially in the early days, are written in archaic English, or are misspelled or ungrammatical, modern spellings and punctuation have been supplied so that today's reader can examine the material without any undue difficulty. For anyone who wishes to see their words in the original, the sources of each of the passages is cited. Enhancing and amplifying these accounts are rare photographs and illustrations from the magnificent collections of The Bronx County Historical Society. Through them, the modern reader can see what many of these writers saw and experienced. "The Birth of The Bronx" touches on the hardships, the daring, the glory, and the day to day living of the people who helped make The Bronx what it is today. "The Birth of The Bronx: 1609-1900" is a result of a project sponsored by The Bronx County Historical Society. For the past twenty years, the Society has been at work on a history of life series on the borough. In 1979, the first part of the series, "The Beautiful Bronx: 1920-1950", and this was followed in 1985 by "The Bronx In the Innocent Years:1890-1925" and then in 1995 by "The Bronx It Was Only Yesterday: 1935- 1965". With this new volume the focus shifts to the beginnings of the Bronx through the eyes of the people who were there.
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