The unromantic tale of Bronx’s Valentine Avenue

Old New York had many romance-themed paths and street names.

18th century Chelsea used to have a meandering road called Love Lane; some city parks also had Lovers’ Lanes. And Brooklyn Heights still has its own Love Lane, a sweet former mews off Henry Street.

But with Valentine’s Day coming up this week, it’s only fitting to recognize the Bronx’s long, bustling Valentine Avenue.

Valentine Avenue really isn’t all hearts and flowers, unfortunately. This crowded corridor runs alongside the Grand Concourse from Fordham to Bedford Park, a long stretch of small apartment buildings and neighborhood shops.

The street didn’t get its name for any romantic reason, either.

Valentine Avenue likely honors Isaac Valentine, a young blacksmith and farmer who built a house near the former Boston Post Road in the village of Fordham in 1758—when the Bronx was a collection of farming hamlets and not even part of New York City.

Even after part of the Bronx joined New York, it was still quite rural—there was even a spring named after Valentine, seen in the photo above in 1897.

Valentine didn’t stay in his house for long. During the Revolutionary War it was used by American General William Heath and his troops, according to the Bronx Historical Society.

The war ruined Valentine, and in 1792 his house was purchased by Isaac Varian. Today, the Valentine-Varian House still stands, a monument to the old agrarian Bronx and the borough’s second-oldest house. (Above)

Speaking of Valentine, there was a Valentine Street in Queens…but it looks like it was renamed 66th Street at least a century ago and doesn’t appear on Google maps. If it does still exist, I’d like to know!

[Second photo: New-York Historical Society; third photo: Wikipedia]

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6 Responses to “The unromantic tale of Bronx’s Valentine Avenue”

  1. kevinwalsh309 Says:

    Valentine remains a dead end in Glendale, on Cooper Avenue near 80th.

  2. Kiwiwriter Says:

    In my father’s childhood, people would remove the Valentine Avenue signs from the lampposts and present them to their significant others on the big day.

    I think this street is near Featherbed Lane, which drew that monicker from the local female residents spreading out the feathers from their mattresses on the road to conceal the sound of George Washington’s wagons retreating (yet again) from the British.

    But I’m probably wrong.

  3. kabimima Says:

    I have the key to the house my grandmother grew up in at 2241 Valentine Avenue, with the attached metal tag with her name and address on it. Back then if your key was lost someone would return it to you. The house was torn down when eminent domain was used to build a school about 100 years ago.

  4. paul caviness Says:

    does anyone know the location of Piccoli’s Bar and Grill on Valentine avenue in the Bronx in the late 1950s

  5. florida1313 Says:

    Great Story on the history of the Bronx. 5 Stars. By Gregg L. Friedman MD

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