AMERICAN BOY, Pelham Bay Park

by Kevin Walsh

The former Rice Stadium in Pelham Bay Park was constructed in the early 1920s with the aid of a $1 million grant from Julia Rice, the widow of musician, lawyer, publisher, chess expert, submarine pioneer, and president of the Electric Storage Battery Company Isaac Leopold Rice. Mrs. Rice was the founder of The Society For the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise and organizer for Sane and Safe Fourth of July, which are both concepts I can get behind. After years of deferred maintenance, the city deemed it necessary to demolish the stadium; it was replaced by the Aileen B. Ryan Recreational Complex, named for a local assemblywoman.

Does any trace remain of old Rice Stadium? Yes. The Louis St. Lannes limestone statue “American Boy,” installed in the Rice Stadium grandstand in 1932, was retained by the Parks Department, restored in 2002 and reinstalled in 2004.

Streets in the vicinity of Rice Stadium were laid out in the early-1920s, about the time the stadium was constructed, and many have names honoring physicists such as Ohm, Ampere, and Watt, as well as Radio, Research and Library. Recall that Isaac L. Rice was president of the Electric Storage Battery Company.

I have long been fascinated with NYC’s groupings of theme streets. Much of northern Bronx name-checks mayors from the colonial era when NYC was still under British domination. You will find fruit trees in Brooklyn Heights, astronauts and classical composers in Staten Island, and vestrymen of Trinity Church on Manhattan’s Tribeca. NYC has also gotten rid of its more colorful street names, but I’m going to get to that in a different post.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


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