Posts Tagged ‘Champs-Elysees’

A Bronx road inspired by the Champs Elysées?

April 15, 2013

GrandconcoursesignParis’ Champs Elysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, a multilane thoroughfare running about a mile.

And according to articles, books, and the Bronx Historical Society, the Champs Elysées was the inspiration behind the Grand Concourse, the five-mile avenue stretching from Mott Haven to Van Cortlandt Park that opened in 1909.

GrandconcourseIt’s easy to see a resemblance. Both feature wide sidewalks and many trees, and both are framed by beautiful architecture—block after block of circa-1930s Art Deco and Art Moderne residences in the Bronx.

Also, the Grand Concourse was designed by Alsatian-born civil engineer Louis Risse. It’s conceivable that Risse modeled his creation after a French thoroughfare he would likely be familiar with.

But was the Champs Elysées his inspiration? Despite the legend, no one really knows, according to Boulevard of Dreams, a book about the Grand Concourse by Constance Rosenbloom.

“Louis Risse does not mention the Champs Elysées, even in passing, in his detailed description of the thoroughfare he envisioned in the West Bronx,” writes Rosenbloom.

Grandconcoursewiki“Beyond the fact that Risse was a Frenchman who knew the Champs Elysées well from his youth, and beyond the superficial resemblance between the two streets, with their sweeps of roadway and sidewalk demarcated by seemingly endless rows of trees, no evidence exists that the grand Parisian boulevard was in Risse’s mind as he set about creating his own masterwork.”

“Yet, whatever the engineer’s intentions, the two streets share a great deal beyond mere beauty, namely, a more ineffable quality that has to do with their singularly urban environs. Like precious gems enclosed within fine settings, both streets were enhanced by the grand buildings that flank them.”

Art Deco on the Grand Concourse

September 10, 2008

Okay, so the Grand Concourse—aka, the Park Avenue of the Bronx, opened in 1909 and modeled after the Champs-Elysees in Paris—doesn’t start out in the Mott Haven section of the borough all that grandly.

Pick it up around 161st Street, however, and it becomes a massive thoroughfare divided into three separate roads and flanked by some impressive Art Deco apartment buildings.

Number 888 has this neat circular entryway. Too bad the for rent notice and malpractice lawyer signs give it a low-rent vibe.

The Grand Concourse . . . or a South Beach hotel? Okay, okay, but this apartment tower does have a vaguely Miami feel.

And finally, the Art Deco angel fish building: