BONNER PLACE, Morrisania

by Kevin Walsh

Bonner Place is a true dead end, on the east side of Morris Avenue between East 163rd and 164th Streets. Older maps going back to the early 20th Century show it never reaches College Avenue. There are only a couple of buildings on it, a pair of multifamily dwellings at its very end. The closest subway is the 161st Street/Yankee Stadium stop serving the #4 elevated and the D train, though the Melrose Metro North station is nearby. So what’s it doing here?

The map of Morrisania was vastly different in 1887 than it is in 2021. Before the current complement of streets was laid out along a rough grid pattern, the William H. Morris holdings were dominated by the New York Driving Club, basically a horse track. Equestrian culture in Morrisania went back to the 1750s, when the level land was used by General Staats Long Morris as a race course. William Morris rented space to a Dater Brothers in 1871, who built a race track that lasted briefly. The NY Driving Club opened here the following year, and its trotting track, Fleetwood Park, boasted an exclusive membership that included William K. Vanderbilt, William Rockefeller, and Leonard Jerome, whose own track in Kingsbridge was home to the Belmont Stakes. The Drving Park and Fleetwood Park closed in 1898, and development soon erased any trace of any former equestrian use.

Irish immigrant Robert E. Bonner (1824-1899) owned several trotting horses that used the Driving Club and Fleetwood Park. His career began as a compositor (layout artist and typesetter) and he became a writer and editor, founding the New York Ledger in 1855, a financial paper. He competed with Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt on Bronx racetracks.

Thus both one of the lengthiest streets in the Bronx, Jerome Avenue (Leonard Jerome of Jerome Park), and one of the shortest, Bonner Place, were named for equestrian enthusiasts. Racetracks vanished from the Bronx decades ago, but street names remember them.

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

2/28/21

5 comments

Anonymous March 2, 2021 - 7:03 pm

Very interesting. I grew up just a few blocks away and often walked on Morris Avenue on the East side of the street, to go to the
candy store, Public Library or to Kress’s Five and Dime. Even still, I never, ever noticed Bonner Place.
And yes it was Kress, not Kresge, which had many more stores.

Reply
Louis Haines May 30, 2021 - 8:52 pm

I lived at the end of Bonner pl from 1959 to
2005 when the house I grew up in burned
down, I owned the property until sold in
2018 , I also owned the property at the
bottom, a factory and parking lot, my house’
was at the end , the address or the front was on College ave , the factory and parking lot,
was where Robert Bonner stabled the finest
race horses my house was the first built built in this area, it was said that many times
Mr Bonner was seen leaving Bonner pl in a
horse drawn carriage with Ulysses S Grant
heading to the race track ,

Reply
Yugo Fergus March 2, 2021 - 7:39 pm

Highly frivolous follow-up: This very nice little cul-de-sac was sneakered twice in what can’t be more than 50 feet.
https://www.google.com/maps/@40.8275658,-73.9164291,3a,90y,280.53h,117.31t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sdwHdVv6XenFYfFglATGnyQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Reply
Anonymous May 30, 2021 - 1:10 pm

I was raised on Bonner place back in the 1970. When 10 cents got you a bag full of candy. Went to school PS-35, 166 and 145. When we were kids making holes in the back yard, we will fine horse shoes. Good old days.

Reply
ron santoro July 6, 2021 - 7:24 pm

My mother and father lived on Bonner Place for a couple of years after they married in 1939. I always wondered where it was.
they probably lived in the apartment building shown in the photo. My mom used to say that they had a nice four-room apartment there.

Reply

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