On September 11, 1609, Henry Hudson sailed his ship Halve Maen
through the narrows discovered by Giovanni di Verazzano in 1524
and up into the Hudson River. That night, he anchored his ship in a tidal inlet
separating Manhattan Island from the area to the north.
Hudson's voyage would pave the way for Dutch settlers of Manhattan and the Hudson valley
to the north. They found that the inlet connected to the Harlem River to the east of the island.
However, the channel became too shallow for large ships as it wound its way around
north of Marble Hill. The inlet became a thing to get across rather than sail down.
According to legend1, in 1664, governor Peter Stuyvesant sent courier
Antony Van Corlear north to warn Dutch settlers of an impending British attack.
When he reached the creek at the northern tip of the island, there was no ferryman to
carry him across. Vowing to get across to the Broncks
"In spite of the devil", he tried to swim across. Corlear drowned, the British attacked,
and the place is now called New York. The creek was called Spuyten Duyvil from then on.
Spuyten Duyvil was the site of the first bridge connecting Manhattan with the mainland,
a toll bridge built in 1693 to carry Broadway north into the Bronx.
This "Kings Bridge" was replaced with a free bridge in 1759.
In November 1776, British General Robert Howe sent ships up Spuyten Duyvil Creek by night
to fire upon Fort Washington from the rear, an important factor in the fort's
capture the following day.
In the mid-1800's, Isaac Johnson built a foundry on the Bronx side of the creek's
southward loop. Cannon for the Civil War were among the products that
made Johnson rich and allowed the adjacent Bronx neighborhood to grow.
By 1895, the US Army Corps of Engineers had decided that navigation around the
northern end of Manhattan was important enough to blast a canal through the northern tip
of the island, detatching Marble Hill from the rest of Manhattan.
In 1918, the area of Spuyten Duyvil creek and the Hudson River
cut off by the canal was filled in. Some time after that (most likely
1923), the canal was extended westward through the peninsula,
forcing Isaac Johnson's foundry to be levelled.
At this point, Spuyten Duyvil creek ceased to exist.. Today,
an Amtrak bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge, and Broadway cross a waterway that many
like to call Spuyten Duyvil but is really the Harlem River Ship Canal.
| N . ' ' ' ' ' .
| O ' . . . . `//
| R ' ' `. //'
| B ' ' Marble // '
| // ' ' Hill //'__'__
| / // ' ' /.-------
| | // ' ' ________ // ' '
\_|___ // ______.--+--+-' A L `//-._' '
| `--//----' A '__N:__.------.// \ '
_| _// '__C_.------' ' //\ H \'
//`---'// \ `-.____ . ' ' // \ A |
| | // \__ | . ' / | | R |
| // `----' ' _.-'/|| | L |
| _.-'.-' || | E |
| M A N H A T T A N .-'.-' || | M |
1>Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York