City Island

On Friday afternoon, we took the 6 train to its terminus at Pelham Bay Park, and then hopped on the Bx29 bus to City Island–billed as a little bit of New England in the Bronx. On the first Friday of every month, we’d read, the City Island trolley runs for free; we weren’t exactly sure where it went or what that meant, but it sounded like a reason to check it out. It’s the wildest thing, really: you cross this little bridge and suddenly you’re on this 1 1/2-mile-long island, surrounded by seabirds, boat docks, and seafood restaurants–a world away from Manhattan. 
We could immediately understand all of the New England references. There was such a nice small-town feel to many of the neighborhood streets and this strong maritime tenor. I kept expecting to pass a store selling salt water taffy. It was a New York unlike any other part of the city that we’d previously seen.
But the promise of New England actually fell a bit flat in the end–in between the charming restaurants and the little boys at little league practice was this undefinable element of seediness, mostly in the shuttered stretches of the main street. We’re hard-pressed to describe why; there wasn’t any one thing. A few too many groups of young men with Natty Light and nothing to do, maybe?  We walked to the end of the island and decided that we would skip the lobster dinner and the trolley ride and return to our island, where we would still go out for seafood (we tried a new place–delicious–called Flex Mussels). 
As for City Island, I think the best way to visit would be on a bike ride; one could enjoy the bike paths in Pelham Bay Park, and stop for ocean breezes and fried clams or grab an ice cream cone and take in the view before riding back.

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