Posts Tagged ‘Bronx neighborhoods’

Faded phone exchange signs on dingy tenements

March 18, 2013

Lots of old tenements have them—metal signs advertising the name of the electrician or roofer or plumber who helped maintain the building.


These two were spotted in low-income Bronx neighborhoods. The sign above comes from a tenement near the Fordham Road D train stop. The ME is for the Melrose neighborhood in the South Bronx.


WY for Wyandotte on this sign, found near Third Avenue in Melrose. It’s also a Bronx exchange—but why Wyandotte, which connotes the Native American tribe Wyandot, who live in Canada?

The only reference I could find comes from a 1975 New York Times article bemoaning the disappearance of the more poetic and descriptive phone exchange names:

“ALgonquin was nice, too, suggesting Indians, as did LAckawanna and WYandotte,” writes John Corry. “WYandotte seemed to be used almost exclusively by the Irish who lived around Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Those Irish are vanishing; so is WYandotte.”

Where exactly Is Marble Hill?

February 11, 2010

Geographically, this little neighborhood—which supplied the city with prime Inwood marble used to construct many landmark buildings—is connected to mainland United States.

You’d think it was in the Bronx. But it’s officially part of Manhattan.

This map weirdness happened when the city enlarged the Harlem River ship channel in 1895. That turned Marble Hill—then at the northernmost tip of Manhattan, separated from the Bronx by Spuyten Duyvil Creek—into an island, with the Harlem River on its north and the creek to the south.

[A 1916 NYPL map of Upper Manhattan; Marble Hill a bump at the top]

In 1914, the creek was filled in, cleaving Marble Hill to the Bronx, though it was declared Manhattan territory in 1897.

Over the years, which borough it belonged to was brought into question. In 1939, the Bronx borough president planted a Bronx flag at Marble Hill and demanded that all residents submit to Bronx rule—a really bad joke met with resounding boos by dozens of Marble Hill residents.

In 1984, it was settled: the neighborhood is in Manhattan—albeit with a 718 area code, a Bronx zip code, and kind of a split identity.