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History of the Name Spuyten Duyvil

For people not familiar with the Northwest Bronx, the name of the  Spuyten Duyvil Branch Library (\ˌspī-tən-ˈdī-vəl\) can be a tongue twister.  Dating back to the 17th century, the name Spuyten Duyvil originates from the Dutch settlers who gave the name to the creek that flowed around what is today the Marble Hill neightborhood.  The creek has since been filled in, but the name stuck, with several theories about its origin.

The Old Landmarks Of N.Y. Spuyten Duyvel Creek., Digital ID 800187, New York Public LibraryWashington Irving refers to the origin of the name in his book, Knickerbocker History.  According to him, a Dutch trumpeter vowed to swim the turbulent waters of (then) Spuyten Duyvil Creek where it met the Hudson during the British attack on New Amsterdam in the 1660s "en spijt den Duyvil," or in "spite of the devil."

John McNamara also refers to this story in his book McNamara's Old Bronx. "Popular legend has it that a messenger was dispatched from Fort Amsterdam to the Bronx mainland for reinforcements, but high tides and treacherous current swept him away and he lost his life.  It was the Spite of the Devil that prevented the messenger from completing his mission."

More likely, however, according to McNamara, "is a 1647 reference to a gushing fountain of fresh water that poured into the creek.  The Hollanders called it the Devil's Spout "Spuit den Duyvil'...Later the name was aglicized to Spitting Devil and, someimtes, Spouting Devil."

To further explore the history of the Spuyten Duyvil area, check out the book
Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil: New York City; a Historical Epitome of the Northwest Bronx by William Tieck and Forgotten NY


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Kudos and a minor editorial correction

Informative article & beautiful picture. - Christophe R. p.s. I noticed one misspelling: "Later the name was aglicized to..." should be "anglicized".

Spout devil is the accurate

Spout devil is the accurate translation in modern dutch it's spuitende duivel


I'm of the feeling that the area of SPUYTEN DUYVIL, Bronx, NY, is a location of many mysteries, as well as , a nice, placid place to live, but I sense something strange looming there as a result of `the Metro North Train Derailment. ( Probably always there.) A very nice article, and tons of thanks from me. Yours truly, J+R

Location of Spuyten Duyvil

Hate to bust your bubble; SD is part of Manhattan not the Bronx. One of many sources:

I think that map is showing

I think that map is showing Marble Hill, not Spuyten Duyvil.


Marble hill and spuyten duyvil are BOTH part of the Bronx NOT manhattan. once you cross the bridge on 218th & broadway, your in the Bronx.

Spuyten Duyvil

Marble Hill part of Manhattan, Spuyten Duyvil part of Bronx. Spuyten Duyvil creek used to meander around marble hill (what is now 230th st). That was filled in, and army corp of engineers dug out tip of Manhattan connecting harlem River to hudson, so now marble hill part of bronx physically, but technically part of Manhattan (city council district, school, etc)

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