Our New Documentary Film: A River Returns, a History of the Bronx River

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The Scarsdale Historical Society is proud to announce a new documentary film, A River Returns, a History of the Bronx River. The event will be held at the Little Theater at Scarsdale High School on Sunday, March 24th at 3 p.m. This screening is sponsored by the Scarsdale Historical Society, The Scarsdale Forum, The Scarsdale Public Library and the League of Women Voters Scarsdale.

The beloved Bronx River has played a significant role in the rise of towns and modern suburbs in Westchester and the Bronx. Our film tells the story of the river’s remarkable history, sorrowful decline and the unique efforts to reclaim the river by the communities it flows through.

The Bronx River travels from Valhalla in Northern Westchester for 16 miles through towns in Westchester and for 8 miles in the Bronx before it flows into Manhattan’s East River. Once teeming with fish and wildlife, the Bronx River Valley was the hunting grounds for Native Americans and the fur traders. The river powered the mills of the first colonists and factories. However, by the 1890’s the Bronx River had become a toxic brew of industrial and human waste.

The first efforts to protect the river resulted in the construction of the Bronx River Parkway and a greenbelt of parks in the early 1900s that transformed towns in Westchester. The second major clean up began in the 1970s when local activists from blighted neighborhoods in the South Bronx and river advocates joined forces to restore the river.

Today, the Bronx River continues to be cared for through an alliance of private and government groups and by the efforts of volunteers, students, educators and environmentalists. Those efforts have become a model for the restoration of urban rivers across the nation.

Join us for the inspired story of the return of the Bronx River and a Q&A with the filmmakers and the historians interviewed in the film.

This is the third film produced by the Scarsdale Historical Society with the combined teamwork of Barbara Shay MacDonald, the Society's Historian, and Lesley Topping, a New York based filmmaker who grew up in Scarsdale. The two previous films,  A Tour of the Cudner-Hyatt House and Scarsdale in the 18th and 19th Century: From Hardscrabble Farms to Gracious Estates can be seen here.