GRAND ILLUSION. Slow death of a Bronx street

by Kevin Walsh

All five NYC boroughs have a Grand Street or Grand Avenue (Brooklyn’s Grand Street and Queens’ Grand Avenue run continuously). The late Bronx historian John McNamara, in History in Asphalt, claims the Bronx’ Grand Avenue, on the University Heights-Fordham border, was named for its proximity to the Grand Concourse.

I was first shown a two-block stretch of Grand Avenue between West 190th Street and Kingsbridge Road (marked in red on the map) by Bronx resident Jon Halabi in 1999. It appeared to be transported into the Bronx from a Hudson riverbank town, with expansive homes with porches so unlike the bulky, stolid apartment buildings that dominate this part of the Bronx. When your webmaster returned for the first time in November 2007, I was appalled, but not surprised, by the direction these two blocks are taking.

A Federal-Style town house and a Queen Anne house with a porch serenely sit on Grand Avenue just north of West 190th Street.

Both houses, however, view a decidedly un-serene scene: the future of Grand Avenue, the Bronx, and New York City. A Fedders special, and a pair of monster trucks.

A weeping beech tree, rare in the Bronx outside of the New York Botanical Garden, and a group of proud 1890-era houses, and the Fedders objects that are beginning to replace houses like them. The lack of lawns is favored by some developers, who feel that houses without lawns are ultimately worth more money.

The plywood wall of doom indicates another recent teardown.

Grand Avenue, as it was…











A gorgeous green-sided building with a wraparound porch, which directly faces the very thing that threatens its existence.