Archive for category Multimedia

The Grand Concourse on the NY Times

Posted by on Friday, 21 August, 2009

Read the article here. View the audio slideshow here.

The Grand Concourse, the four-and-a-half-mile boulevard that for much of its life was described as the Champs-Élysées of the Bronx, has often sat for its portrait, as have many of the handsome buildings along its flanks. But there is one image that captures in poignant fashion exactly what the street represented in the mid-20th century.

t is a grainy black-and-white snapshot of a boy named Sam Goodman, a third-generation boulevard resident, wearing a dressy coat and hat and standing in front of the Lorelei fountain in Joyce Kilmer Park. Anyone who knew the area would recognize the luscious white-marble concoction of mermaids and riverfront siren, which had been created in Germany in 1893 and brought to the Bronx with much fanfare six years later.

Lorelei was not the boulevard’s only charmer. This broad, tree-lined street, the ultimate prestige address for vast numbers of the city’s upwardly mobile Jews, was also home to a movie palace where stars twinkled in a midnight-blue ceiling, a grand hotel where political intrigue played out amid marble columns and crimson carpets, and a stellar collection of Art Deco apartment houses.

That world has evaporated. The stars in the movie palace (now home to sports events and concerts with a Latin beat) are gone, along with the political intrigue in the hotel (now a residence for the elderly) and most of the trees. The 182-foot-wide roadway has been sliced and diced over the years. But Sam Goodman, the little boy in the snapshot, who now works as an urban planner in the Bronx borough president’s office, is hardly the only survivor of that era whose voice softens at the mention of the thoroughfare that even today, nearly a century after it was built, is considered one of the city’s legendary streets.

New Podcast at Tablet Magazine

Posted by on Monday, 3 August, 2009

Listen & Download Here!

The Grand Concourse, a major thoroughfare in the Bronx loosely modeled after the Champs Elysee, turns 100 this year. Back in the 1920s and 30s, the Concourse was considered among the best addresses to have, particularly if you were an upwardly mobile Jew. Several decades later, though, things changed radically; the Bronx became an emblem of urban decay and violence. In Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope Along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, out later this month from NYU Press, Constance Rosenblum traces the rise and fall and rise again of this historic artery. She speaks with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about the art deco monuments that characterized the Grand Concourse, Jews’ affinity for apartment living, and the forces that contributed to its mid-century decline.