In the early days of Forgotten New York I would amble up Grand Concourse all the way from East 138th to Mosholu Parkway and take in all the magnificent apartment buildings as well as the many topographical changes in what is a very hilly borough. The second Forgotten New York tour (out of what so far is 153 live tours) marched down the Concourse on one of the hottest days of the summer in July 1999 and along the way we got caught in a thunderstorm and ran smack into the Dominican Day Parade. At day’s end, some of us wound up in a bar on Bainbridge Avenue where we watched David Cone finish a perfect game at the old Stadium. I’ll have to walk up the Concourse again sometime soon. Meanwhile, here’s a bit about one of its more notable buildings.
The NE corner of Grand Concourse and E. 161st is dominated by the massive 500-room Concourse Plaza Hotel, #900 Grand Concourse, designed by Maynicke and Franke and opened in 1923, the same year as the original Yankee Stadium. It has served as a gathering place for family reunions of Grand Concourse residents, and used to play host to the New York Yankees and visiting teams.
In The Bronx In Bits and Pieces, the late Bronx historian Bill Twomey reported that when the Concourse Plaza opened the rate for one night was $3.00 for a single room and $4.50 for a double. Even in the 1920s The Bronx was a tourist mecca with Yankee Stadium, Botanic Gardens and the Bronx Zoo. You could honeymoon in the Bronx in those days and the hotel was always booked for bar mitzvahs and wedding receptions in the enormous grand ballroom, which had a 2000-plus capacity, on what was then the heavily Jewish west Bronx.
As New York City went downhill in the Swinging Sixties, so too did the Concourse Plaza Hotel. By 1968 it was a welfare hotel. In 1974 it was converted to a senior residence.