Spuyten Duyvil, New York

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Spuyten Duyvil, New York

SPUYTEN DUYVIL, NEW YORK. Probably a corruption of the Dutch for "in spite of the Devil," this creek marks the northern boundary of Manhattan Island. The Post Road crossed it at the Kings Bridge, which made the latter of great strategic importance: Along with the Freebridge, it was the island's only link to the mainland. As Douglas Southall Freeman has noted, "there is always a question where Spuyten Duyvil ends and Harlem Creek, now the Harlem River, begins" (vol. III, p. 470 n.), because the two constituted in 1776, as they do today, a continuous waterway between the Hudson and East Rivers. The British used this route in moving troops from the Hudson into the Harlem River to attack Fort Washington, 16 November 1776.

The sinuous creek was straightened and parts of it filled in during the completion of the Harlem River Ship Canal in 1923. The Marble Hill neighborhood was cut off from Manhattan. The site of the Kings Bridge is now on dry land, lying north of the canal near West 231st Street and Marble Hill Avenue.

SEE ALSO Harlem Heights, New York.


Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington. 7 vols. New York: Scribner, 1948–1957.

                                   revised by Barnet Schecter