Bronx History: 75 Years Ago Today, The Bronx Invaded Manhattan to Claim Marble Hill

James F. Lyons, right, the Bronx borough president, and an assistant tried to retake Marble Hill from Manhattan on this date in 1939.

Here’s a little history lesson from the New York Times. Many of us assume that Marble Hill is part of the Bronx because it is physically connected to our borough but that wasn’t always the case — and it still is Manhattan. Legally, anyway. Read about when a former Bronx Borough President invaded Manhattan.

From the New York Times:

New York Today: When The Bronx Invaded Manhattan

March 11, 2014
Good morning to you on this pleasantly warm Tuesday.

New York City’s boroughs do not always get along.

Case in point: 75 years ago today, the Bronx tried to seize part of Manhattan.

The conflict was over a little settlement called Marble Hill.

It was originally the northern tip of Manhattan.

In 1895, it was cut off by a ship canal and became an island.

Later, the water was filled in, joining Marble Hill to the Bronx.

But it never stopped belonging to Manhattan.

On March 11, 1939, the Bronx borough president, James F. Lyons, breached Marble Hill’s border and planted the flags of Bronx and the United States.

“I hereby proclaim this territory of Marble Hill to be part of my borough,” he declared.

Residents jeered.

“The natives did not like the Bronx or its leader,” The Times reported.

Lyons retreated.

Still, these days, the Bronx has not forgotten.

“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,” said the borough’s current president, Rubén Diaz.

The Manhattan borough historian, Michael Miscione, will speak on the Marble Hill border war at 6:30 tonight at New York University.

In Manhattan.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.