It’s been 100 years since the Marble Hill neighborhood became geographically annexed to the Bronx. But technically, it still belongs to Manhattan. And that gives its residents a bit of an identity crisis.
“It’s good for people to have a passionate identification with the city, with the borough, with the neighborhood,” Manhattan borough historian Michael Miscione said.
But ever since the small creek separating Marble Hill from the Bronx was filled in 1913, the residents of the neighborhood may be identifying with the wrong borough.
“You've got this neighborhood that is by all appearances a part of the Bronx, but it's not,” Miscione said. “So you could be walking across the street up by Kingsbridge and you don't know that you've actually crossed out of the Bronx and into Manhattan.”
In 1939, Bronx Borough President James J. Lyons planted a Bronx flag on the neighborhood’s highest point, claiming it for his borough. And to this day, Marble Hill residents identify so much with the Bronx that they often don’t realize they live in Manhattan until they’re summoned for jury duty, Miscione said.
One Marble Hill resident made news in 1984 when she protested serving on the jury for a murder trial, saying she was not a resident of New York County, where the case was being tried.
Fearing that decades of jury decisions and electoral outcomes would be compromised, the state legislature passed a law declaring Marble Hill part of both Manhattan Borough and New York County.
Miscione will present a lecture on the quirks of Marble Hill and the implications for all New Yorkers at St. Gabriel's Church Community Center in the Bronx on Thursday February 28 at 7:30 pm.
Visit Kingsbridge Historical Society for more information.