City Moves to Designate Grand Concourse as a Landmark

grand conc 165 jeh City Moves to Designate Grand Concourse as a LandmarkThe city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is taking the first step toward creating a historic district on the Grand Concourse, a four-and-a-half mile thoroughfare in the Bronx.

The district would include 73 buildings, from 153rd to 167th streets, according to Elisabeth de Bourbon, spokeswoman for the LPC.

The step, known as calendaring, will be followed by public hearings.

The street has been compared to Ocean Drive in Miami Beach and the Champs-Élysées in Paris because of its size and Art Deco buildings. It was designed by French immigrant Louis Aloys Risse and opened in November 1909.

In March, the Bronx Museum of the Arts opened an exhibit on the boulevard, which ran until July.

Constance Rosenblum of The New York Times wrote a book entitled, Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak and Hope Along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. In an article adapted from the book, she described the Concourse as “a chewy slice of urban history festooned with murals, mosaics and other Art Deco touches.”

The Municipal Art Society of New York has recently been boosting the boulevard and its historical significance. In January, it highlighted the Concourse Plaza Hotel, at 900 Grand Concourse, as a nomination for the Census of Places that Matter. The hotel was a popular spot for presidential candidates, with Presidents Franklin  Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy campaigning there. The hotel was also close to Yankee Stadium, with a rumored three-bedroom suite for Babe Ruth.

“As the Grand Concourse celebrates its centennial as one of the city’s most majestic thoroughfares, it is fitting that the Landmarks Commission is considering establishing a Grand Concourse Historic District,” said Municipal Art Society President Vin Cipolla in a statement.  “MAS supports this designation for one of New York’s great treasures.”

Last December, the city’s Department of Transportation completed a two-year project, replacing the underpass on East 161st Street, creating pedestrian space on Lou Gehrig Plaza and adding trees and bike lanes.

rli@observer.com