It occupies a piece of land along the Bronx River approximately 2 miles long and 662 acres in area. Owned during the eighteenth century by the Delancey family, it passed to the Lorillards, manufacturers of tobacco products, who set up a snuff mill that still stands. In 1884, the New York State Assembly authorized the purchase of undeveloped land north of Manhattan to be used as a park system for the increasingly crowded city. Acquired in 1888, Lorillard land north of Fordham Road was allocated to the New York Botanical Garden (1891), the land south of it to the New York Zoological Society, which opened the "Bronx Zoo" in 1899. In both areas, the collections were displayed in remarkable buildings (such as the glass-and-steel Enid Haupt Conservatory [1902] and the zoo's Baird Court). Also to be found in Bronx Park: an impressively violent river gorge and the last surviving forest in the city.

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