• 50 Years - A Million Thanks
A Walk Through the Bronx - With David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis
A Walk Through the Bronx - With David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis
History See the Sites Interactive Map About the Program Resources
A Walk Through the Bronx - With David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis History Join Thirteen receive a gift
Early European Residents Birth of a Borough Growth and Urbanization
Photo of the Lorillard Snuff Mill.
Photo of the Bronx River.
The Bartow-Pell Mansion

TOP: The Lorillard Snuff Mill dates from 1792 to 1870 and is bordered by the Bronx River.

MIDDLE: While European settlers lived in the Bronx, the Bronx River was tranformed from "pure and wholesome" to an "open sewer," but thanks to the Bronx River Alliance, it has been restored to its original beauty.

BOTTOM: The 19th century Bartow-Pell Mansion was built in the Greek Revival style and has been maintained by the International Garden Club since 1914.




In 1904, the first subway connecting the Bronx to Manhattan was built under 149th Street, providing cheap rapid transit that ... persuaded hundreds of thousands ... to leave tenements in Manhattan for spacious new apartments in the Bronx.
By the late 1890s there was strong support in parts of Eastchester, Pelham, and the village of Wakefield for consolidating with New York City the area east of the Bronx River, along with Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Most people assumed that high real estate values in Manhattan would cover the public debt already incurred by the towns and pay for further public improvements being planned.

After consolidation in 1898, the twenty-third and twenty-fourth wards became the borough of the Bronx, which with Manhattan remained part of New York County (the other boroughs were already separate counties). But the journey from the Bronx to the courts in southern Manhattan was so long that inhabitants of the Bronx soon petitioned for county designation. It was not until 1912, however, that the state legislature established the County of the Bronx as the sixty-second county in the state, effective January 1, 1914.

In 1904, the first subway connecting the Bronx to Manhattan was built under 149th Street, providing cheap rapid transit that with the 3rd Avenue elevated line persuaded hundreds of thousands during the first third of the twentieth century to leave tenements in Manhattan for spacious new apartments in the Bronx. Yugoslavians, Armenians, and Italians were among those who made the move, but the largest group was Jews from central and eastern Europe.

With the influx of population in the first third of the century the economy of the Bronx grew rapidly. The 3rd Avenue elevated line was gradually extended northward and in the process trolley lines were connected to it, forming a rapid transit line that provided access from lower Manhattan to expanses of undeveloped land. Many apartment buildings and commercial buildings were soon erected along the corridor of the elevated line, which reached its northern terminus at Gun Hill Road in 1920. In 1923, Yankee Stadium was opened at 161st Street and River Avenue as the home of the New York Yankees, who became known at the "Bronx Bombers" because of the large number of home runs hit in the following decades by such players as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Reggie Jackson.

The onset of the Depression ended the period of tremendous growth that had begun in 1888, but privately financed apartment buildings continued to be constructed. This was especially true of the area of the Grand Concourse, which became a symbol of social and economic success and had many apartment buildings of five or six stories with wide entrance courtyards. About 49 percent of the inhabitants in 1930 were Jews, most of whom worked in Manhattan. By 1934, the housing in the borough had many more amenities than that of the other boroughs: almost 99 percent of residences had private bathrooms, about 95 percent central heating, more than 97 percent hot water, and more than 48 percent mechanical refrigeration. The largest housing development of the time, Parkchester, was undertaken by the Metropolitan Life Insurance company. Completed in 1942, it housed forty thousand residents and had parks, playgrounds, sculptures, convenience stores, and movie theaters. Edward J. Flynn, the Democratic leader of Bronx County and an early supporter of the New Deal, secured public funds to repair streets and build the county jail and the central post office, as well as neighborhood parks.