GUNHILL ROAD, Williamsbridge

by Kevin Walsh

Forgotten NY correspondent

One does not need to wear a bulletproof vest to travel on Gun Hill Road, the 3.4-mile north Bronx road running between Mosholu Parkway to the New England Thruway. Kevin Walsh documented unusual sights along its length in a detailed two-part essay in 2015. Things that he missed along the way usually appear in the comments section from our intrepid readers. But sometimes they also miss things worth discussing. On my recent trip on Gun Hill Road, I found three such items in the Williamsbridge neighborhood.

In the title card, here’s one for Frank H. Jump, the city’s fading ads specialist. “Oil heats best. Costs less” on the block between Hull and Decatur Avenues. Oil also heats best in Wakefield, and again in Wakefield. As Gun Hill Road has its name relating to the American Revolution, in Williamsbridge nearly all the streets intersecting it also relate to that war, the exceptions being Jerome Avenue, Kings College Place, Reservoir Place, and Webster Avenue. The Hull here could be Brig. Gen. William Hull. And while the name Decatur is usually associated with the War of 1812’s Commodore Stephen Decatur Jr., his father and namesake commanded ships during the Revolution. Likewise for Perry Avenue and revolutionary Navy Capt. Christopher Perry, whose more famous son rose to the rank of Commodore in our nation’s second war against U.K.

Near the road’s western end is the campus of Montefiore Medical Center, which built its first facility here in 1912. The site of its original Manhattan campus in Hamilton Heights is remembered at Montefiore Square. The forgotten item here is a driveway gate on Gun Hill Road marked as “Steuben and Gun Hill Receiving.” Inside the gate is an old brick building that lines up with the driveway. Go back a few decades when the hospital campus was much smaller. This driveway used to be Steuben Avenue interacting with Gun Hill Road. Its namesake is a German Revolutionary War commander whose name also appears on a playground and street in Brooklyn, and on Staten Island.

In 2015, Kevin walked the north side of Gun Hill Road, where he wrote about Kings College Place. There was never a college here. Rather it commemorates Columbia University’s pre-revolutionary name. What Kevin missed was on the south side of this intersection, a rare explanatory sign describing how Gun Hill Road received its name. The inspiration for this sign is historian John McNamara, who wrote the book on Bronx street names. This sign was designed by Bronx County Historical Society. I would love to see such signs on all streets across the city, but until then we have Forgotten-NY

Sergey Kadinsky is the author of Hidden Waters of New York City: A History and Guide to 101 Forgotten Lakes, Ponds, Creeks, and Streams in the Five Boroughs (2016, Countryman Press) and the webmaster of Hidden Waters Blog

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



Daniel Padovano November 25, 2019 - 7:45 pm

Loved the Gun Hill Posts. I used to walk around on my lunch breaks during trainibg sessions at Lehman Collefe. Hoid business section on the west end and great foid.

Michael Vaccaro November 25, 2019 - 9:23 pm

I grew up on Decatur and Gun Hill in the ’60s/’70s!

Ken Woods November 25, 2019 - 9:27 pm

For those of you that may have been to Southern Rhode island on vacation, US Route 1 between South Kingstown and Westerly is named for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry Highway and has many historical houses along and off the highway. There are still many farms along that road. If you look south on a good clear day you can see Block Island.

Mott de Haven November 26, 2019 - 9:06 am

I’m really surprised the NRA isn’t headquartered there.

I’m equally surprised “Burnside Avenue” hasn’t been changed by now. Very befitting in the 70s, but not in the present day.

Andy November 28, 2019 - 12:50 pm

Burnside Avenue is named for a Civil War General. From Wikipedia: “Ambrose Everett Burnside (May 23, 1824 – September 13, 1881) was an American soldier, railroad-executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island. He served as Governor of Rhode Island and as a United States Senator. As a Union Army general in the American Civil War of 1861-1865 he conducted successful campaigns in North Carolina and East Tennessee, as well as countering the raids of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, but suffered disastrous defeats at the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of the Crater. His distinctive style of facial hair became known as sideburns, derived from his last name. He became the first president of the National Rifle Association (in office: 1871-1872). ”

Link to full Wikipedia article:

bronxbull November 28, 2019 - 3:40 pm

grew up on burke n gunhill the projects there on burke
60s 70s
my older sister still lives in the project 65 yrs
funny thing
im 62 and i can walk that neighborhood and NO ONE will F with me
I’ m OSG believe that
The Bronx may be forgotten but I never forgot where I came from!

Bill Israel December 1, 2019 - 7:42 pm

I wonder why Kings College Place refers to Columbia University-Kings College was originally lin lower Manhattan, near City Hall. It moved to 49th & Madison and eventually, Columbia moved to its Morningside Heights campus in 1897.

Andy December 3, 2019 - 3:29 pm

From what I can tell the local, proper, pronunciation is something like “Gunnel Road” which makes me think of some part of a ship, in the north Bronx, which is the last place on earth I’d expect to find anything nautical.

redstaterefugee December 20, 2019 - 10:15 am

Check this out Andy:

P.S.: A recent “American Pickers” episode featured a visit to a City Island boat yard.
Remember: Look before you post.

Frank King January 17, 2020 - 3:50 pm

Awful pictures….all that space taken for 3 lousy pics that don’t really show it.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.