Posts Tagged ‘South Bronx’

Lee Harvey Oswald’s South Bronx years

October 27, 2008

Lee Harvey Oswald is usually associated with New Orleans, the city of his birth; the Soviet Union, where he defected to in 1959; or Dallas, for obvious reasons. But he actually spent a few years living in the South Bronx when he was 13 and 14 years old.

In 1952, after moving to New York City with his mother and brothers, he lived in a couple of different apartments near the Grand Concourse, attending Junior High 117 and then Junior High 44, according to a November 1963 New York Times story.











Lee Harvey Oswald as a kid. His Bronx class picture perhaps?

All was not well with young Lee, however. The Times article quotes a next-door neighbor, Gussie Keller, saying that Mrs. Oswald was concerned about her son, who was in trouble for skipping school. She “used to talk to me all the time and cry,” Keller said. The Oswalds returned to New Orleans in 1954.

The South Bronx mystery chick

October 24, 2008

This statue graces the front courtyard of a high-rise Grand Concourse apartment building. She’s one formidable female, but who is she?

Queen Anne beauty in the South Bronx

September 5, 2008

Venture to the Mott Haven section of the borough (it’s just one 6 train stop out of Manhattan), and an architectural treasure awaits: a row of 10 narrow townhouses featuring eclectic gables, cornices, warm brick, and tall chimneys.

Built in the 1890s by developer Edward Bertine, the row—spanning 136th Street from Willis Avenue to Brown Place—is known as the Bertine Block and, since 1994, was officially dubbed the Bertine Block Historic District. 

This one, number 422, has what may be original stained glass:

Mott Haven has more to offer, such as its own historic district and some gorgeous townhouse blocks along Alexander Avenue. Check them out here.

The little babes watching over us from doorways

September 5, 2008

Not all New York tenements are guarded by mean-looking gargoyles. Case in point: an angel of Harlem, overseeing the front steps of a tenement on Fifth Avenue in the 120s:

And here, on the facade of a similar tenement in the South Bronx, a cute bugle boy alerts us to danger:

A bit of Elizabethan England in the Bronx

June 13, 2008

When you think of the South Bronx, Shakespeare’s sonnets aren’t exactly what come to mind. So how did the Highbridge neighborhood end up with a steep, pretty little street called Shakespeare Avenue?

According to McNamara’s Old Bronx, the land there was owned by the Marcher family. Their estate featured a beautiful “Shakespeare garden,” which was decorated with statues of the Bard himself as well as Romeo, Juliet, Puck, Hamlet, and his other best-known characters. It was also filled with flowers and plants mentioned in his plays. 

When the estate went kaput and the land parceled out in the early 1900s, borough planners created a new street but gave it the garden’s name. 

Row houses built in the 1920s, like these, line both sides of the street, which winds several blocks between Jerome Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway.

The prettiest block in the South Bronx

May 25, 2008

The first Bronx subway stop on the 6 train from Manhattan leaves you a block from 138th Street and Alexander Avenue. Once known as “Doctors Row” and “The Irish Fifth Avenue,” Alexander Avenue between here and 141st Street boasts gorgeous row houses dating to the 1870s. 

If you swoon over original details and don’t mind living sandwiched between a couple of housing projects, this could be the block for you.

Though now considered part of the catch-all South Bronx, the neighborhood is in the tiny Mott Haven Historic District. Once a thriving community dominated by Mott Ironworks and piano factories, Mott Haven fell victim to the usual urban blight in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1990s, antique shops, lofts, and a couple of cafes on nearby Bruckner Boulevard have helped revive the area. It feels pretty safe, yet reports of the neighborhood’s Soho-fication are, well, premature. Luckily, remnants of old Mott Haven still remain, like this piano ad.

Check out the brick sign on the old Mott Ironworks building, on the Harlem River. J. L. Mott is Jordan Mott, an industrialist who bought the land from the Morris (as in Morrisania) family in 1828.

South Bronx gothic beauty

May 3, 2008

Built in 1899, Morris High School, in the South Bronx (or SoBro as realtors are attempting to call it with a straight face), was the first coed high school citywide. Pretty cool that New Yorkers were so proud of their schools back then that they printed them up on postcards.