"The Acapulco Divers of the Spuyten Duyvil" : An Oral History with Former Inwood Resident Mike Boland


Former Inwood resident Mike Boland on video describing a terrifying leap off the Columbia C rock into the Spuyten Duyvil in New York City.

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  1. Great story Mike. We Inwood kids took real dangerous stunts. I used to swing from a rope under the 207th st. bridge out into the Harlem river. Even though we could have gone to the Miramar pool we walked past it to the river because it was daring. We would hang by our legs on the top of the monkey in Payson park. Today the kids wear helmets and there are rubber pads underneath so God forbid the little darlings don’t get hurt. Sleigh riding down dead man’s hill. Opening the fire hydrant until the cops came and chased us. The white rocks on 10th ave. was another challenge until I got stuck in a hole and the fireman had to get me out. We were out all day riding bikes, skating, jumping rope and doing crazy things. Do you see kids playing like that today? Those were the days in Inwood long ago.

    • I went to MIRAMAR a few times…closed when I was @3-4 years old…1966/1967…..remember the terrific animal themed sprinklers which were IN the pool. It’s ALL OVER THE WORLDS these days…kids seem content to mostly just sit on their butts and “play”computer games and videos…and this next generations doesn’t even KNOW how to play street games like ringolevio, hopscotch, box ball, johnny-on-a-pony…or jumping off the BIG “C”! I grew up on 238th/Bailey Avenue in da Bronx…have several friends who did jump….through the mid-late 70s. I lived on the Fordham University//Bronx-Rose Hill Campus from 1981-1983…their 8 man plus coxswain crew teams…male and female got dunked a few times in the Harlem River…usually by the waves from a passing boat, like the Circle Line…and EACH and EVERY time had to get a gamma globulin shot from Colombia-Pres. Hospital to prevent infection…and potentially hepatitis! I’ve jumped off similar height rocks and outcroppings into lakes and large ponds, but was always warned that there were some sharp rocks in front of the “C”….especially noticeable at low/er tides. I think there was another recent video about theBIG “C” on another blog…perhaps the GOTHAMIST.com …?

  2. Thanks for a terrific video and better story, Mike. I remember you…I lived up on PTW. Janie Pollak was my name, then; I’m 57, so we were of the ‘same ilk’.’ ha. I’m gonna share this with my ‘brood’ of six cousins and their families down in Va. Beach. Their Dad, recently deceased at 94 years of age, and a Pearl Harbor survivor (my Uncle Gene) dove off the tippy-top of The Big “C” or The C Rock, once. I only wish they had You Tube and Cole’s website back in his day!

    Patricia, you ain”t kidding! I remember walking the beams a little ways down from the ceiling down at the Bus Depot on Broadway, and a lot of boys used to climb the catwalk up on the Henry Hudson Bridge (to Mike’s right, off-camera, in the video, for the interest of a reader not from the area)….not to mention ‘jumping the trains’ near the trestle. Man, oh man….and then we’d go home and when Mom asked, “What did you do out today?” We’d reply, “Oh, just played.” Best place anywhere to grow up.

  3. I’m 69 and grew up in marble hill. we called it the top of the cut not the C rock. it was a right of passage to go off the top. you started at 30 feet and gradually worked up to the top. the top was 102 feet. most jumped off not dove off.

  4. This is unreal, I finally found you Mike. Its amazing the things we did. I could jump rooftops but couldn’t jump off the cliff when the S line went by. Looking back we had the best, beatings and all. Egg Cream solved everything for a few minutes then onto the next adventure. We all were very cool. Great memories

    • Holy Cow! Claudette Icart! How cool is it that after all these years we come across each other through a very cool website. I recently threw a post Christmas party at my apartment on 234th st and my good friend Cole was among the guests and did some video filming of myself and a few of the others at the party singing and playing our guitars. It was really a great party and he sent me a video of myself doing an Elenor Rigby cover which was a hoot…lol. Anyway in the course of checking out the video I also clicked on his MyInwood link. As I browsed through and then checked out the impromtu video of my Big C escapades I read some of the feedback and there you are….lol. How the heck are you!!! Great to hear from you. Yes no matter what troubles we had….an egg cream at Gee’s on 207th would cure all our heartache ha ha. Those were the days…..and these are the days as well. I still love life and I still love Inwood and I still make memories that will keep me smiling forever. Life is good. How are you? I recognized the names of a couple of other people who commented…..Pollock is one of them. How cool….after all these years…..you go away….life happens…..you come back to Inwood…..its like a warm fireplace far from the maddening world. It was great to read your words. Take care. Mike Boland 917-434-6678

  5. Am I the only one who remembers that, for good reason, it was called Geronimo?
    Where and when did this C Rock stuff come from? The one thing you can not deny is that Inwood Hill Park was the greatest back yard in the entire world and more bones were broken doing what we did every day than you could shake a stick at. May West, Dead man’s Hill and cable swings that flew you out over the paths and had you a good thirty feet above the Spuyten Duyvil by the Henry Hudson Bridge. Then came the Bars.

  6. Robert -you a correct it was called Geronimo, reason it was original started as a C, but was left unfinished and the C look like a G from the island.

  7. I grew up on Seaman Avenue, across from the park. Just like all children in the neighborhood, I played/roller skated/went “sleigh riding” in the park and marveled at Geronimo rock and the daring of boys who jumped off it. Beginning decades ago, and over the course of several years, the letter C in blue finally took shape. The Columbia University boat house faces Geronimo and with Baker Field (as it was called then) not far away, people assumed Columbia students were responsible for painting the rock. Or, more accurately, defacing it.

  8. Thanks for the memories. I did my rock jumps and rope swing jumps into Lake Zoar in CT, but did play tag and hide & seek crossing rooftops around 213th St. Sledding down Isham Park hill down to Broadway. Mud sliding from Broadway into the Benadetto farm & parking lot, before the Telephone Bldg was built.
    Thanks Cole for all your work on Inwood History.


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