Situated in the far northwest section of the Bronx, Riverdale is bounded on the west by the Hudson River and the north by the Westchester County line but to many it feels like a suburban enclave within the city.
Marked by a landscape of winding streets, hilly terrain, gentle (and not-so-gentle) slopes and rocky outcroppings along the river, a large portion of Riverdale is designated a greenbelt, with many open spaces, public facilities and outdoor recreational opportunities. The views of the high, rocky cliffs of the Palisades and the Hudson River are magnificent, and not much has changed in the landscape since The WPA Guide to New York City, published in 1939, described Riverdale this way:
"The homes are set along rambling lanes; on the crests of hills overlooking the Hudson; atop ravines that lead to the river; amid flower gardens and picturesque rock formations."
But to Barbara Jurist, a resident for 37 years and an associate broker with Sopher Real Estate, Riverdale, whose borders extend south to 224th Street and east to Van Cortlandt Park and the Henry Hudson Parkway, is more village-like than neighborhood. Thanks to strict zoning regulations, Riverdale has more or less maintained its look and character since the WPA Guide was published, but that's not to say the area hasn't borne witness to some interesting changes over the centuries.
In 1786, farmer William Hadley bought the wooded hilly tract to cultivate and raise livestock. His near neighbor Frederick Van Cortlandt was successfully farming wheat. The Van Cortlandt House, which was built in 1748, claims the title of the oldest surviving residence in the Bronx, and is now a museum. George Washington slept there - or at least made it his headquarters - several times during the Revolutionary War.