Grand Concourse (Bronx)

Infobox_nrhp | name =Grand Concourse Historic District
nrhp_type = hd



caption = Art Deco apartment buildings along Grand Concourse.
location= Bronx, New York]
lat_degrees = 40
lat_minutes = 49
lat_seconds = 52
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 73
long_minutes = 55
long_seconds = 26
long_direction = W
locmapin = New York
area =
architect= Multiple
architecture= Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals, Art Deco, Other
added = August 24, 1987
governing_body = Local
refnum=87001388cite web|url=http://www.nr.nps.gov/|title=National Register Information System|date=2008-04-15|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
The Grand Boulevard and Concourse (almost universally referred to as the Grand Concourse) is likely the most famous street in the borough of the Bronx in New York City. It was designed by Louis Aloys Risse, an Alsatian immigrant who had previously worked for the New York Central Railroad and was later appointed chief topographical engineer for the City of New York.

History

Risse first conceived of the road in 1870, as a means of connecting the borough of Manhattan to the parkway in the northern Bronx. Construction began on the Grand Concourse in 1889 and it was opened to traffic in November 1909. Built during the height of the City Beautiful movement, it was modeled on the Champs-Élysées in Paris but was considerably larger, stretching four miles in length, measuring 180 feet across, and separated into three roadways by tree-lined dividers.

The cost of the project was $14 million, the equivalent to $310 million by today's standards. The road originally stretched from the Bronx Borough Hall at 161st Street north to Van Cortlandt Park, although it was later expanded southward to 138th street after Mott Avenue was widened to accommodate the boulevard.

The IRT Jerome Avenue Line of the New York City Subway opened a few blocks west of the Grand Concourse in 1917, initiating a housing boom amongst upwardly mobile, predominantly Jewish and Italian, families who were fleeing the crowded tenements of Manhattan. Development of the Concourse was further encouraged by the opening of the IND Concourse Line in 1933. By the mid-1930s, almost three hundred apartment buildings had been built along the Concourse. Customarily five or six stories high with wide entrance courtyards bordered with grass and shrubs, among these apartments are many of the finest examples of Art Deco and Art Moderne architecture in the United States.

In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened near the Grand Concourse at 161st Street. South of Fordham Road, the palatial Loew's Paradise Theater, at one time the largest movie theater in New York City, was constructed in 1929.

Although the Great Depression ended the period of tremendous growth, privately financed apartment buildings continued to be constructed. During this period, The Bronx had more amenities than other boroughs: in 1934, almost 99% of residences had private bathrooms, and 95% had central heating. [http://www.bronxhistoricalsociety.org/journal/historyofthebronxjournal.html] In the 1939 WPA guide to New York, the Grand Concourse was described as "the Park Avenue of middle-class Bronx residents, and the lease to an apartment in one of its many large buildings is considered evidence of at least moderate business success." [ [http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/Grand%20Concourse/concourse.html concourse ] ]

In 1941, the New York City Planning Department proposed converting the boulevard into an expressway, in order to connect the Major Deegan Expressway and the proposed Park Avenue Expressway to the south with the Mosholu Parkway to the north. However, these plans were abandoned following the southern extension of the Bronx River Parkway in the 1940s and the extension of the Major Deegan Expressway to the north in the 1950s.

The south and central Bronx began to rapidly deteriorate in the 1960s. White flight led to the steady exodus of many residents of the South Bronx, lured by the dream of suburban life and fear of mounting crime. At the same time, over 170,000 people displaced by slum clearings in Manhattan, mostly African American and Puerto Rican, moved to Concourse. The city also adopted policies of relocating welfare recipients to the area, paying fees to landlords.

The construction of Co-op City in the fringes of the northeastern Bronx between 1968 and 1970 drained the areas along the Grand Concourse of most of its few remaining middle-class residents. Many if not most buildings in the area were damaged by arson and a lack of maintenance. Even along the Grand Concourse, some buildings and apartments were left abandoned and boarded or bricked shut. Starting in the 1990s, when the Bronx's population began to grow for the first time in twenty years, a wave of affordable housing construction came to the area.

In recent years New York City authorities have made efforts to restore the Grand Concourse. Among other things, large exit signs have been introduced, in the manner of limited-access highways.

Today, the Grand Concourse is set to undergo an $18 million restoration and landscaping that will widen the medians and improve lighting from 161st to 171st Streets.

The buildings at 730-1000, 1100-1520, 1560, and 851-1675 Grand Concourse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Grand Concourse Historic District.

In Literature

Novelist E. L. Doctorow has featured the Grand Concourse in much of his writing. Short fiction writer Jacob Appel's story, "The Grand Concourse" (2007), [ "The Threepenny Review", [http://www.threepennyreview.com/tocs/109_sp07.html Volume 109, Spring 2007] ] a woman who grew up the in the iconic Lewis Morris Building returns to the Morrisania neighborhood with her adult daughter to discover the boulevard is far from how she remembers it.

ee also

* Transportation in New York City
* IND Concourse Line
* IRT Jerome Avenue Line
* Grand Concourse buses

References

External links

* [http://www.nywiki.com/new-york-city/index.php/Louis_Aloys_Risse Louis Aloys Risse] article on NYWiki
* [http://www.nycroads.com/roads/grand-concourse/ Grand Concourse Expressway Proposal @ NYCROADS.com]
* [http://www.forgotten-ny.com Forgotten-NY.com] Authoritatitve articles on New York City history, including:
** [http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/Grand%20Concourse/concourse.html Grand Concourse article]
** [http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/concourse2/concourse.html Grand Concourse follow-up article]


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