May 2009: Most of the Bronx press attention has gone to theYankees’ new billion-dollar launching pad (where they have already lost 22-4 and more lopsided scores) where the displaced parks will be built on top of parking lots, and where dozens of prime seats are sitting empty night after night because they cost $2560 per seat, per night (discounted to $1250 a night). This is Forgotten NY, though, which covers the places where millionaires have never been; there are plenty of places to choose from up here. In the shadow of the Stadium just west of the Concourse and Franz Sigel Park we find a remnant of the days when the Bronx wasn’t crowded with teeming tenements but was instead a green swath punctuated with farms and country estates.
Cedar Lane runs north from East 150th to just past East 151st Street just west of the Grand Concourse. A very short stretch ends at a dead end at the western branch of the Metro North (formerly NY Central) Railroad that becomes the Hudson branch. Only one building fronts on it, and that building carries and East 151st Street address. Cedar Lane’s only purpose seems to be to spare southbound traffic moving from East 151-150th Streets from using The Conk.
According to the late great Bronx historian John McNamara, Cedar Lane is the remnant of the driveway that led to the Gerard W. Morris mansion called “Cedar Grove.” It also once led to Franz Sigel Park, apparently before the NY Central was put through. A trio of lengthy Bronx avenues in the vicinity are called Gerard, Walton, and Morris Avenues; Gerard and Walton Avenues recall Gerard Walton Morris (1799-1869), a scion of the colonial Morris family (see FNY’s Mott Haven page for a section on the Bronx Morrises). A large section of the Cedar Grove estate became Franz Sigel Park, named for a somewhat-ineffectual German-born Civil War general.
ABOVE: 2002; BELOW: 2009. Cedar Lane is nondescript, but at least it was punctuated, for what must have been nearly a century, by a jewel-box Victorian on the NW corner of East 150th. An Italian restaurant (which I will not name) at 150th and The Conk needed a parking lot, so the Victorian was purchased and dispatched some years ago.
Cedar Lane, though, is one street in a weird little Bronx subneighborhood along East 150th Street and Walton Avenue — here you will find some additional attached brick homes, some with what might be their original doors. One of them is covered head to foot with ivy, even over the windows. To the immediate north is the Bronx Boro Hall, to the west the Bronx Terminal Market and to the northwest, New Yankee Stadium; yet this block is perpetually frozen in time, unless someone wants another parking lot.
One of the sidewalks along East 150th has recently been replaced…and here are the bluestone blocks that have just been pulled up. Bluestone sidewalks should be landmarked wherever they are so this can’t happen.
Photographed May 9, 2009, page completed May 15