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As a neighborhood, Morris Park, located in what’s about the exact center of the Bronx, appears to be one of the borough’s most stable and long-standing, but it’s actually only a few decades old and occupies what used to be a vast racetrack – come airfield -come road racing track; many of NYC’s more “stabler” neighborhoods, such as Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, are located where the ponies used to run and automotive pioneers raced.


(LEFT) Morris Park Racetrack Clubhouse; above, Morris Park Racetrack grandstand, both in 1899. from McNamara’s Old Bronx, John McNamara

The name Morris turns up a number of times in the Bronx, primarily from two different families: the Revolution-era Morrises: Richard, who arrived in the 1660s and first settled the South Bronx; Declaration signer Lewis, US Senator Gouverneur, and Robert, who was a 3-term NYC mayor in the 1850s.

The Morris of Morris Park was John A. Morris, whose Westchester Racing Association acquired 152 acres in 1888 on the outskirts of the old Bear Swamp (which was quite literally named) and built a huge racetrack and clubhouse there. As opulent as the racetrack was, though, it was in operation only from 1890 to 1904 (though a vestige of horse racing in the area, the Track Restaurant and Tavern, held down a corner at Eastchester and Williamsbridge Roads some distance from the old track until 1957). The track itself burned to the ground in 1910.

In 1908 the abandoned racetrack became the world’s first formal airfield and the American Eagle, the largest dirigible in history to that time at a full 105 feet in length, was built there, and one of the first gliders, piloted by 17-year-old Lawrence Lesh, was launched from the former track that year. And, in the early 1900s, the old racetrack was also used for speed and endurance races for the newfangled automobile, and a young Swiss driver named Louis once won a gold watch for driving a Fiat a the-record 52.8 MPH there. The driver along with his brother Gaston competed in many road races at the Morris Park track and Gaston won at Indianapolis in 1920. Of course, it was Louis Chevrolet (1878-1941), who ironically sold his share in the Chevrolet Motor Car Company he founded in 1911 to original partner William Durant in 1915, and returned to the racing business, as well as aeronautics. (The gold watch he won had been donated by Walter Chrysler.)

It was not until the 1920s that streets were cut through and houses constructed; the neighborhood was not “completed” until the 1970s!

The portal to Morris Park (by public transportation, at least) is the East 180th Street IRT station, which boasts the most majestic station house in the system. The building, thankfully protected by landmark, was constructed in 1912 as a grand Italian villa station for the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad that operated between the Bronx and Westchester from 1912 to 1937 (it never made it to Boston) and was subsequently sold to NYC and became the Dyre Avenue Line. Other station houses along the line have survived too.

A short walk west along East 180th Street will bring you to the FDNY Fire Alarm and Telegraph Bureau (right) built 1923 in an Italian Renaissance style. It’s actually in West Farms, a Bronx crossroads that borders on Morris Park, Tremont and Crotona Park.


Morris Park Avenue

Morris Park Avenue marches northeast from the old NYW&B station to Hospital Row (see below) and forms the main commercial spine of the area. Like most of NYC’s neighborhood main drags it has several mysterious items, at least to someone not from the neighborhood

Shot this through a wrought iron fence leading to an auto body shop. One of FNY’s more enduing, or annoying traditions…name that car.

Looks like a 1936 Buick Special, according to some FFs.

The 180th Street/Unionport subway yards, are, of course, closed to the public, but a look through another fence on Morris Park Avenue provides a look at R-26 cars 7774 and 7775. These redbird cars were retired from passenger service in 2003. Cars of much older vintage are also stored there.

Unlike Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you usually know what you’re going to get on Morris Park Avenue.

New York City is nothing more than a collection of small towns and most New York neighborhoods are blissfully non-suburban in the sense, to put it simply, that all sorts of things are right next to each other. If you want to take your kid to chess lessons in the morning, he can walk across the street for boxing in the afternoon.

(LEFT) Wonderfully non-politically correct name for a movers.

Unionport Road, connecting Bronx Park and the old Bronx town of the same name (now a part of Castle Hill), runs past Morris Park Avenue and officially divides the neighborhoods of Morris Park and Van Nest. (Unionport was originally a sheep pasture and the road has been called Sheep Pasture Road in the past.)

Anchoring the SW corner of Unionport Rd. and Morris Park Avenue is this long-standing pasta wholesaler.

Know your pasta: cannelloni means “large pipes” or large reeds” in Italian and are tubes filled with flavorful fillings, more popularly “Mannicotti” in the USA.Gnocchi, pronounced approximately nyo’ kee, literally “lumps,” small dumplings made from a mashed potato and flour mixture with some egg as a binder; and agnolotti (an yo lat’ ti), “priests’ hats” are a variety of ravioli.

If I’m wrong about these descriptions…hit me with a wet noodle.

When Italian-Americans in the Bronx are mentioned, the guidebooks will usually direct the reader to Arthur Avenuein Belmont, famed for its many restaurants and delicacy shops, but Morris Park and Middletown, to the northeast, are not to be outdone and Morris Park Avenue is lined with pizza places and pasticcerias.

The flags are left over from the celebrations when Italy won the World Cup in July 2006.

One of Morris Park’s little surprises is this peaked trio on Amethyst Street just off Morris Park Avenue.


Hospital Row

Ullmann Research Center at Newport Avenue (right) is part of Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Jacobi Medical Center, on a vast plant between Pelham Parkway, Eastchester Road, Morris Park and Seminole Avenues, is the Bronx’ largest public hospital. Also in the Bronx’ Hospital Row are the Bronx Psychiatric CenterMontefiore Medical Center on Eastchester Road and Calvary Hospital, where your webmaster’s father rested comfortably in his final days.

ForgottenFan Michael Szmyga: Where you refer to Jacobi Medical Center, there is a picture that shows a prominent grey building with lighter grey and red buildings in the back. The dark grey building is actually the Rose E. Kennedy Center which is a neuroscience research building part of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (I’m actually a graduate student at Einstein, hence my now living in Morris Park and knowing which buildings are which). The two buildings in the background are Jacobi Medical Center itself with the red one being the recent addition that opened ~2006.


White Plains Road

White Plains Road, like many NYC streets, is named for a town where it doesn’t go, at least not any longer. It’s the only street in the Bronx that runs from the East River all the way to the city line at Mount Vernon, Westchester County. It doesn’t go to White Plains proper…it changes to West 1st Street in Mount Vernon, but make a turn or two and you will arrive at NY Route 22, known as White Plains Post Road much of its length, which leads to the titular town. In fact, the Bronx’ White Plains Road was laid out in 1863 and was named for fields of bright balsam flowers found along its route.

There are no pastoral scenes left along White Plains Road, but there is this brilliant aquamarine building at Rhinelander Avenue. A close inspection reveals its original function as a garage.

Probably not for your webmaster though. Exercise causes him pain and injury.

Cruger Avenue between White Plains Road and Bronxdale Avenue featured the boyhood home of ubiquitous TV personality Regis Philbin. But what would Reege say if he saw that the Department of Transportation has installed his sign on the wrong street?

photo via Cityrag

Bronxdale Avenue

An Indian trail led through the farms belonging to the Fowler family in Revolutionary times, skirting Bear Swamp, which did in fact feature ursine mammals in the era. It led from the town of Westchester (now Westchester Square) to what is now Bronx Park and later carried the appallation Snuffmill Lane, since at the end of the road was the tobacco-producing Lorillard family’s mail built in 1840, now part of the New York Botanical Garden. Bronxdale Avenue is one of the few roads even at present between Morris Park and Westchester Square, which are separated from each other by the tracks of the Metro-North RR and Amtrak.

On either side of Bronxdale Avenue and Antin Place are the magnificent Art Deco Bronx Park Medical Pavilion that formerly fronted a swimming pool, and a turreted Tudor tower. Walk up Cruger Avenue for some more Art Deco which rivals the Grand Concourse’s collection.

We pause from the great Art Deco to point out these tiny bungalow-like homes on Hunt Avenue just around the corner. Forgotten Fan Don Gilligan surmises they could have housed trackworkers who built the NY, Westchester & Boston RR.

Here I go, my, how can I resist Mamma Maria on Bronxdale and Morris Park Avenue. I haven’t been inside but this place looks huge. 9/19/10: Now known as 900 Park

Forgotten Fan Charles Ferrari writes:

The Mamma Maria restaurant is actually just part of a shopping complex on the corner of Bronxdale and Morris Park, which was built about 10-15 years ago and has gone through some interesting turf wars. If you look at the bottom floor you can see a place called “For Kids Only” which is a daycare center. Originally, each storefront was a separate store, with Mamma Maria and For Kids only being two of them. Slowly, For Kids Only began to expand until it took up most of the building leaving only Mamma Maria and a Cafe. Then suddenly, I come back from college this summer to see Mamma Maria taking up the whole thing.


Barnes Avenue

The Bronx contains some long streets. There’s the aforementioned White Plains Road, there’s Tremont Avenue which runs from the Harlem River to Throgs Neck, Jerome Avenue, and Boston Road, which does go to Boston. Then there’s Barnes Avenue, which begins at a trickle at a dead end past Van Nest Avenue in Morris Park and runs north to the city line at Mount Vernon…at a trickle. In fact Barnes Avenue is interrupted many times on its journey and contains four separate sections, the longest and widest being from Astor Avenue north to Bissel Gardens in Wakefield.

Like most of the Bronx’ long streets it began life as a Native American trail, and has been known in several sections as Kingsbridge Road, White Plains Road (no connection to the other one), Cedar Street, and Madison Street. It’s likely named for 1840s landowner Samuel Barnes, through whose farm part of the route was built.

Like the Tudor shown above at Bronxdale Avenue and Antin Place the avenue’s angle through the area has produced buildings with distinctive triangular shapes that resemble the prows of sailing vessels such as this one at the SE corner of Barnes.

Just south of Bronxdale on Barnes we find this brilliant yellow building with a bright, enclosed porch.

Morris Park contains two of the Bronx’ obscurest alleys, visible on only the most detailed maps, Barnett Place off Barnes Avenue between Rhinelander and Morris Park Avenues. As short as it is it does contain two handsome 2-story brick apartment buildings.

Carpet store sign, Barnes and Morris Park Avenues.

The other obscure Morris Park alley is Graham Place, which is a trickle of sidewalk leading north from Morris Park Avenue east of Matthews Avenue leading to a single house.

More Bronx alleys can be found here, here and here.

Turkish Cypriot Mosque, Morris Park Avenue and Graham Place.

The DOT has been doing a little lamppost experimentation along Morris Park Avenue (along with parts of Williamsbridge Road) in taking double-shafted telephone-pole mounted masts, painting them black and equipping them with neo-Bell mercury bulb luminaires. (Historically in NYC the double masts have always used Westinghouse “cuplights” at first, then Westy silverliners and GE M400s). First installed in about 2003, this style has yet to catch on elsewhere around town.

A group of streets in Morris Park along Jacobi Hospital sport Native american names: Seminole, Pawnee, and Narragansett. Originally these streets were part of a real estate development called Westchester Heights in the 1860s, and the developers decided to give the streets Indian-sounding names (Seminole was originally Saratoga Avenue.)


Pelham Parkway

The greenway/parkway known officially as The Bronx and Pelham Parkway (sort of like The Grand Boulevard and Concourse) runs from Boston Road east to Stillwell Avenue, connecting Bronx and Pelham Bay Parks, after which the greenway ends and the road becomes the Pelham Shore Road, running through Pelham Bay Park. Though not constructed by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Brooklyn’s Ocean and Eastern Parkways, it follows their model of the parkway in its true sense; a park along which traffic runs. (And does so even more effectively than Brooklyn’s entries!) Unfortunately there’s no actual connection between the Bronx’ two great parkways, Pelham and Mosholu.

Um, am I interrupting something?

I stopped by the Garabedian residence at 1601 Pelham Parkway North and found that their Christmas house looks pretty much the same in the summer as it does in December!

Bay Plaza at Co-Op City watches balefully over Waring and Delanoy Avenues.

OK, I can name that car at Gun Hill Road and Allerton Avenue, it’s ’52 Dodge!

You’ll never forget where you are at Gun Hill and Allerton.

Photographed August 13, 2006. Page completed August 20.

©2006 Midnight Fish

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33 Responses to MORRIS PARK, Bronx

  1. Joe Geller says:

    I’m a native New Yorker, grew up in Morris Park The Bronx. My grandfather had a luncheonette, named Denise’s. The present business there now is Anne Clair’s, if this will help! That was my grandfathers place & i’m looking 4 pictures of it.Maybe u can help. Thank u,

    Joe Geller

    • joe mastroianni says:

      my name is joe mastroianni. is your father Richie geller? my mother millie and your grandmother cal were sisters. I lived at 1725 lurting ave and your grandparents lived upstairs. I lived in the Bronx until 1959. I presently live in Farmington ct

      • Joe Geller says:

        Hi Joe, this is Joe Geller, Richie Geller’s son. Wow!!! Aunt Millie… Yes my grandmother Cal, Columbia.. I remember i use 2 play with Carl…My Uncle Danny and the whole family was 1722 Lurting across the street. Pls feel free to contact me. Joe

  2. Joseph Cosentino says:

    Great article for a great neighborhood. I’m glad to see Morris Park getting the recognition it deserves.

    Joseph Cosentino
    Morris Park Realty
    874C Morris Park Ave
    Bronx, NY 10462
    like us on Facebook

  3. Vinny Amarosa says:

    This site is great! Brings back memories as I grew up on Pierce Avenue. The Mamma Maria’s on Bronxdale and Morris park Avenues was a mini golf place and then a storage area behind the Van Ness Bowling Alley. This was the bowling alley in the movie Men in Black 3. In the summers of 1971 and 1972 this corner spot held the Bronxdale Little League’s carnivals. Across the street to the northeast stood the Carvel’s Ice Cream stand with its white sloped roof (now a RiteAid complex). The laundrymat on the southwest corner was a great pizza place in the 70′s.

    • Stephen Nardo says:

      does anyone remember Triplets?

      • Ron Marzoli says:

        Hi Stephen,
        I remember Triplets fondly. When my wife and I were dating before we were married she lived in the Bronx. Triplets was our favorite spot for a meal. The pastas were excellent.

        Ron Marzoli

      • nick says:

        Yes:my father was related to nickola Gentile.The founder of the Triplet’s founded circa 1939. I resided, with family at 872 kinsell street, second floor. nickola and jenney purchaed this house in 1944. we moved into the second floor.(nickola wanted my Dad as a tenant;he insisted) Ann bernice and delorise were babies.RITA:was the older daughter; use to buy her deveil Dog’s in the morning at the local grocery story(Ralph’s)(“”"Whaaady You Want Mister”"” Bronxdale ave).I am now going back to the middle forties. nicholas Di Brino;author ;The history of The Morris park Racecourse and the Morris family. commished in 1976 by John A.Morris to compile a book of the long gone Morris Park Racecourse.

      • Joan (Volonino) Decjer says:

        I remember Triplets Pizzera, but my family frequented Liberty Pizza Parlor (owned by the Fasolino family), as we lived only doors away from it in the apt. house at 1741 Barnes Ave. I have been bac to the old neighborhood over the years, but lived there from 1945 to 1955. We were right next door to Ceas chicjen marjet and Conti’s. There was a shoemajer, then the Palumbo’s house, Ochel’s Deli, Liberty Pizza Parlor, a bar, Charlie’s Meat Marjet. Waljed to Our Lady of Solace Grammar School (gone) & bought candy & vanilla cojes at Mac’s Candy Store. In that neighborhood also was Izzie’s and Burje’s Bije Shop….& along Morris Parj Ave. Singer’s Drugstore & Willie’s Meat Marjet. The bus ran down Morris Parj Ave., but before that – there was a trolley. Great memories of a blessed childhood bacj in the innocent fifties. Joan (Volonino) Decjer, Bethlehem, PA.

    • Connie Mellia says:

      My brother worked at Carvel’s and I remember free ice cream on Halloween, Van Nest was a two-way street, sledding down Kinsella street and Roy the ice cream man. Also, at the corner Mamma Maria’s now occupies was an inground, outdoor trampoline area. Surprise that Conti’s Bakery did not have a mention. Conti’s has been in the neighborhood since the 1920′s and has a great soda fountain. Also, it’s speciality, Boston Cream Pie, is unrivaled.

      • Nicholas says:

        (A)-Roy: In the winter drove a Oil truck for Lubrein Oil; company; garage was located at Waterbury ave, Bronx. Roy resided near scrub Oak, New York. a great Gentleman;was Roy: ;(B) John built Carvel’s, at Bronxdale ave circa 1956 a former contruction worker great guy. good people always bitched about Carvel (the old corp.; that was in place when Tom Carvel ran the operations)Nicholas Di brinoNOTE This location was a very high hill with a hugh old billboard. of some 20 feet long, witha walking platform for the worker to slop on the new paper advertisemens; this location was never built upon. the first building was Carvel’sThis location was part of the Morris Park Racecouse property location – Racecouse opened oct 1889. closed in 1904 Nicholas Di Brino; author of the history Of The morrisPark Racecourse and the morris family. 1976.a book commished by the grandson of the founder of the Morris park racecourse MR: John A. morris.

    • nicole says:

      triplets pizza?? that was my grandfathers restaurant

      • george pruss says:

        hi nicole if your grandfather ownend the triplets resturant then john frantangelo would be your father or uncle l worked with john at the time of his marriage to teri and attended their wedding.i moved to 1976 and stopped to see john while working in nyc in 1986.he was woking for g.m in tarrytown at the time.we worked for sullivan plumbing together.if this is the john i knew pass this on and let me know how he is doing,

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  8. Thom Piragnoli says:

    I grew up on Rhinelander Ave & Victor st.circa 1964. Stokely Carmichael lived in one of those 3 peaked homes on Amithyst. They were down the block from P.S.34, which went through many changes when we played on Victor st. It was always locked up but that did not prevent all of us from playing softball & stickball there.I also remember that on the corner where Mamma Maria’s (now 900 Park) is, used to be a miniature golf site & later on a trampoline place ! We only went to the Triplets when my folks had “extra” money, other than that we went to Liberty pizzeria for a night out. This article mostly covered Van Nest, the “heart’ of Morris Park is really from Bronxdale to Eastchester rd. Oh & those little bungalows on Hunt ave were just that, they were summer rentals for the Bronxdale Swimming pool, that is now the Bronx Park Medical Pavillion. I still live here & have raised my 3 sons here. It is “my little town”. It’s nice to see kids who grew up with my sons buying houses here & raising their own family here.

    • Nicholas says:

      Went to school with stokley; 1952 to 1954-P.S 34 He died some 15 years ago;,I had known the family very well, my future wife resied next dooor to the Carmichel family(Very nice people) Stokley was very low keyed in that time;He also was the scholl crossing guard for morris park ave, at lunch time; nicholas Di brino

      • Ann Regina (Barbuto) says:

        Are you the Nicholas Di Brino whose mother was Tessie and you had a sister named Mary?
        Think there was also another brother,Rocco, born in Italy?
        If you are, the above maiden name would be familiar to you.
        I just remember your mother being one of the nicest, sweetest persons living in that area, visiting with my mother.
        They lived across the street from the then, Public Library . . .. and your father
        used to come to my father on Wallace and Bronxdale to play Bocce.
        I remember your sister Mary, being a very nice person too. Being a girl, myself, then, I remember you
        as the little brother.
        If the above is true, I must say “Those were the days, my friend!
        I have never seen this Website before but came across it while looking for the accident that occurred
        on Bogart and Morris Park, last nite.
        Ann Regina

  9. dorothy d'angelo says:

    Does anyone remember a restaurant on Morris Park called the Morris Park Inn? We would call it the MPI. I can’t find out any information about it on the internet. Thanks for any help.

    • Nicholas says:

      Where was it located? areeyou sure that was the name. Give the location. I may have a answer; nicholas

    • Nicholas says:

      10001 Morris park ave was the location of the Morris park inn, in reality a Bar and restaurant. of a cloud to some people.

  10. John says:

    The MPI was the site of the old Colden Ave Tavern across from P&J Deli. Does anyone remeber in the mid-late 70′s Trilpets changes hands and was run by a guy I think his name was Bruno and his wife. really nice folks.
    I worked my teenage years at Dom’s Deli (formerly Joe’s) at 1555 Paulding Ave.
    How about he Mister Softee truck that was ownered by Louie and then George? Or the Italian Ices from Patsy’s Bakery

    • mike says:

      Most of the time I would take my little sister to the outside window of Patsy’s Bakery to get some Italian ices. We lived 1842 Lurting Avenue in the 60s and 70s. Does anyone remember Larry’s Candystore on the northeast part of Lurting avenue & Morris Park? I moved away around 1979 and would like to know what ever happened to Larry. Mike

  11. Cathy I says:

    I grew up on Bogart Ave and Haight Ave and moved in the 60s. My grandfather owned Morris Park Hobby/Auto Shop on Morris Park Avenue. I would love to find any pix or info of his store. I enjoyed the posts and remember the bowling alley and mini golf, many wonderful pizzerias, Bruno’s Deli, and Russo Bakery!

  12. Amendola says:

    Hi, Anyone remember Tony’s deli on Van Nest Ave? I lived at 807 Van Nest next to a bar and the entrance to a train yard. Use to collect newspapers and rags and sold them for pennies on Mathews Ave. Still miss the 10 cent ice from Conti’s and their 35 cent banana split. I remember stick ball and kick the can on Barnes Ave and Van Nest and helping the Good Humor man up the hill with his bicycle truck. I lived there between 1948 and 1966. I went to OLS (Our Lady of Solace) and on Sunday’s pick up sweet buns after church and the smell of old Italy as I walked home. Will never forget Morris Park.

  13. Bob Ombrello says:

    Lived at 1663 Wallace Ave, deadend to the New Haven Repair yards 1944-1956
    Worked at Tony Farfarana deli on Van nest and Wallace from 1953 to 1956.
    Liberty Pizza owner lived at 1667 Wallace.Great Pizzas.
    Went to Mac’s candy store, then Covins, O’Shanassey, then Virgina Moffett circa 1952.
    OLS from 1944 to 1952
    Joined Air Force in 1956 and left the area.
    Went back in 2008, Van Nest & White Plains looked good,,,,
    But what happen to Fordham Rd ??????

  14. John says:

    The R26′s were the last NYC rapid transit railcars manufactured by American Car & Foundry (ACF) of Berwick,PA in 1959 & 1960. The 7774-7775 twin unit originally had General Electric motors, and cars 7804 and above had Westinghouse propulsion. This was common practice in an effort to be fair to both companies, and was in effect to about the first days of the IRT.

    • John says:

      I stand corrected. The R28′s (7860-7959) manufactured in 1960 & 1961 were the last ACF cars, NOT the R26′s. The rest of the comment is accurate. Kevin, perhaps you can edit the original comment by deleting the first sentence, and leaving the rest. Of course this reply would have to go as well. Many thanks in advance.

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