Our little school building has an important history in the Bronx. The first Kingsbridge Free Library was established in 1894 and housed above Hecht’s drugstore on what is now 230th St. between Kingsbridge Ave and Corlear Ave. It quickly became clear that the small space was not adequate and it grew even more imperative that the library needed a new and more permanent space when a devastating fire swept over Riverdale Ave. While the library remained intact, much of the building in which the library was located was moved away or torn down.
The New York Public Library, with the help of Andrew Carnegie’s generous $5.2 million gift, agreed to assign one of the first branches to Kingsbridge and incorporated with the previous Kingsbridge Free Library. It would be the second NYPL branch in the Bronx, the first of which was Mott Haven, which opened six weeks earlier. The new branch, designed by McKim, Mead & White, was located on Kingsbridge Ave on land provided by local resident, Dr. James Douglas, and opened May 19th, 1905.
The neighborhood around the building was still largely undeveloped.
The land across the street from the library was only just being subdivided from a large estate.
Over the next few years the street level was lowered and the railroad tracks along 231 St. were removed, along with the wooden walking bridge that crossed that deep opening, creating Kingsbridge Ave. as we know it today.
In the early 20th century, the northwest Bronx experienced a growth of commerce and population greatly facilitated by the extension of the IRT subway line from Manhattan to 242nd St in 1908. It quickly became clear that the library had already outgrown its small space. Its original 4500 volumes had grown to almost 14,000 books by 1935, and residents still felt it wasn’t enough to meet the needs of the growing community.
Plans to remodel and expand the existing building were considered but never implemented. In 1962 a larger library was relocated to Corlear and 231 St. In 1977 Spuyten Duyvil Infantry moved in.
And the rest is history …………
Spuyten Duyvil Preschool today
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