Walking down the quiet streets of City Island, you might need to keep reminding yourself, yes, you’re in the Bronx.
The architecture of the island, with its mix of cottages, shingled houses and Victorian-style homes, suggests a New England fishing village instead of New York City.
But though its island-vibe gives the impression of a vacation town, and visitors from other boroughs come to dock their boats on weekend evenings in the summer to dine at its seafood restaurants, businesses here not seasonal.
Instead, it’s a year-round residential town where, according to locals, everyone knows each other.
“If you sneeze, someone from a few blocks away will say ‘bless you,’” said Keith Trauceniek, 43, manager of the Seashore Restaurant at 591 City Island Ave.
There are plenty of places to get your fried fish fix, including Sammy’s Fish Box at 41 City Island Ave. and Johnny’s Reef, with gorgeous waterfront views, at 2 City Island Ave.
Well-dressed folks head to fancier places like the Sea Shore, at 591 City Island Ave., and City Island Lobster House, at 691 Bridge St., for more upscale meals.
And for those with different tastes, there are non-seafood restaurants such as Bistro SK at 273 City Island Ave., which claims to be the only French restaurant in the Bronx, and newcomer Archie’s Tap and Table, at 536 City Island Ave., known for its farm-to-table menu.
City Island Avenue is the island’s main artery; it runs the entire length of the neighborhood and is home to the vast majority of its businesses. The necessities of city living are all present — one gas station, one laundromat, two groceries.
The community is small, 1½-miles long by ½-mile wide, and is home to about 4,500 residents.
The island is located east of Pelham Bay Park and is connected to the mainland Bronx by bridge.
Many residents and visitors reach the island by car.
Its only school, P.S. 175, which serves 348 students in grades K-8, is also on City Island Avenue. High school students commute off-island for school, either by car or the Bx29 bus, which makes 10 stops on City Island and connects to the Pelham Bay 6 train station.
The rest of the island is almost exclusively residential. It’s a vision of small-town America with tree-lined streets and two-story homes with front and back yards.
Boating is a popular pastime for City Island residents. It has four active marinas — the Harlem, South Minneford, City Island and Morris Beach yacht clubs — where boaters from the island, as well as many others from locations such as New Jersey and Long Island, moor their vessels.
The New York Sailing Center at 231 Kirby St. offers instructional classes in sailing, including a three-day introductory course for beginners, and Jacks Bait and Tackle at 551 City Island Ave. rents out four-person motorboats.
But while it is a nautical place, City Island has no public beaches, though it does have several small, private man-made beaches behind locked gates at the dead ends of residential streets.
Residents of these streets can purchase a key to access to access the waterfront.
For the peace and quiet-seeking New Yorkers looking to make a move to the island, there are properties available — but they aren’t numerous, and they tend to sell quickly, according to Ramona Vincenty, a broker with Citi Habitats and City Island resident.
“You have the advantage of living in New York City, but it’s like vacation living,” she said. “When you cross that bridge you are in a whole different world.”
According to StreetEasy, the median sales price for homes and townhomes sold on City Island in 2015 was $430,000. The website had no rental listings for the island as of press time.
If sales prices seem low for such a picturesque community, Robert Carmody, 59, owner of Atlantic Emeritus Realty at 300 City Island Ave., said that is changing.
“Prices are rising … but we are still in the Bronx, so prices are still lower than many other neighborhoods in the city,” he said.
He added that he is seeing an increasing number of young professionals with families relocate from Brooklyn and Manhattan to buy homes on the island.
Along with private houses, there are some new developments in the mix, such as On The Sound, a 43-unit condo complex that opened in 2015.
Despite the developments, the island has kept its small-town feel, according to locals like Paul Klein, 58, vice president of the City Island Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Kaleidoscope art gallery at 280 City Island Ave.
“This is an amazing island,” said Klein, a 22-year resident. “It’s such a bucolic place.”
City Island is located off the east coast of the Bronx. The only road that goes to it is City Island Road, which goes over a bridge from the Bronx.