The Bronx In 1897 – Beautiful Streets and Homes Part 2
Lewis Morris homestead Morris Heights Bronx 1897
Poet Ogden Nash once quipped, “The Bronx? No thonx.”
By 1964, Nash had changed his mind and said “I can’t seem to escape the sins of my smart-alec youth. Here are my amends. I wrote those lines, ‘The Bronx? No thonx!’ I shudder to confess them. Now I’m an older, wiser man I cry, ‘The Bronx, God bless them!”
Many people deride the Bronx without actually setting foot in it. In the 19th century, no such derision existed. The Bronx’s reputation as a great place to live and work was justified.
Let’s continue our look at the Bronx in 1897 from the book The Great North Side.
The following words were written for the book by Albert E. Davis, architect & and a North Side Board of Trade organizer:
“The conditions which caused over-crowding on Manhattan Island do not exist on the North Side. It contains about two-thirds of the combined area of both, is broader and less closely confiued by water, and has unlimited room to expand northward into Westchester County whenever the growth of the city demands it.”
Martin Walter residence 2082 Washington Avenue Bronx 1897
“Hence, while the state of affairs below the Harlem was perhaps the natural outgrowth of the necessities of restricted area, it is absolutely unjustifiable and positively wrong to thus crowd the habitations of human beings where there is so much room to spread out, and the price of land is still low.”
Hugh N. Camp residence Fordham Bronx 1897
“There are many attractive residence streets and avenues on the North Side, only a few of which can be here alluded to. Mott Avenue, a very pretty thoroughfare lined with fine old trees which arch over the roadway, starts in the business section of Mott Haven, just below the 138th street station, and extends northward along the westerly ridge known as Buena Ridge to 165th street. Mott Avenue will form the entrance to, and part of the Grand Concourse which is to be the finest boulevard in the country. Walton Avenue, on this ridge, is also a residence thoroughfare.”
Birchall Haffen Risse residences Bronx 1897
“Washington Avenue, in the central valley, is another tree-lined avenue similar to Mott Avenue. Franklin, Boston and Prospect avenues, on high ground in the eastern section, contain some very handsome residences, and there are many attractive homes on upper Morris Avenue. Sedgwick and Ogden avenues, on the upper westerly ridge, and Riverdale Avenue in the north west, are bordered with handsome residences and the beautifully kept estates of some of New York’s wealthiest and most prominent citizens.”
Fred Goodrich residence Riverdale Bronx 1897
“For those who admire picturesque scenery and like to live on high ground there is perhaps no North Side thoroughfare which affords so many admirable sites for homes as Sedgwick Avenue.”
Perry Williams and Mrs. John Kirkland residences Sedgwick Avenue Morris Heights Bronx 1897
“Starting at McComb’s Dam bridge it follows the east bank of the Harlem by graceful curves adapted to the contour of the land, passing under the arches of High and Washington bridges and by the grounds of Berkeley Oval, the New York University, and the Webb Academy, extending as far northward as Van Cortlandt Park. Many charming views of the Harlem and Hudson may be had while driving along this avenue. It has been called the ” Riverside Drive ” of the. North Side.”
John Eustis residence Sedgwick Avenue Morris Heights Bronx 1897
“For the many thousands of fairly prosperous who by industry and economy are enabled to save something out of their earnings there is no more inviting section than the North Side. Here opportunities are offered them of securing homes of their own at a moderate outlay, and at the same time without forfeiture of citizenship in the Metropolis, with all that that implies.”
Charming views of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers from Morris Heights Bronx 1897
“The many excellent building and loan associations of this section of the city provide means whereby those who are now paying rent, for which they will have nothing to show, say ten years hence, may secure homes of their own by paying but little more monthly than they now pay out for rent. And, perhaps, next to life insurance, there is no better provision that a man can make for those dependent on him than the securing of a home for them : a house which they can call their own. It ought to be the ambition — indeed, it is the duty — of every head of a family capable of earning more than the mere means of support, to labor and save to the end that those who look to him for support may be thus provided for.”
Salter and Dr. Dunn residences Bronx 1897
“It would be difficult to find, within many miles radius of New York, more delightfully picturesque scenery than is to be found on the North Side, within the corporate limits of the Great Metropolis. Its hills and valleys, affording entrancing views of the majestic Hudson with its world-famed background, the Palisades; the sinuous and placid Harlem hedged in by commanding hills and spanned by many bridges; the wide spreading marine views of the Sound with its numerous islands, and the land adjacent to that charming strip of rustic woodland which skirts the picturesque Bronx from West Farms to William’s Bridge offer attractive sites for residence which for beauty and healthfulness it would be hard to equal.”
Riverview Terrace from Powell Place Morris Heights Bronx 1897
“Here then is New York’s ideal home section. Within this magnificent territory upon which Nature has bestowed her bounties with such liberality we may expect to see developed the residence quarter of the Metropolis, dotted with the homes of the thrifty and industrious of moderate means as well as the palatial mansions of the wealthy; a district which shall be to our city what London’s great home section is to the Metropolis of the world.”
Robert Niles residence Fordham Bronx 1897
Continued in part 3.
I saw the 1897 photo you posted of the Hugh N. Camp house in Morris Heights in your article, “Believe It Or Not This Was the Bronx in 1897 — Part 2.”
I’m wondering if you have a better, high-res version of the photo of the Hugh N. Camp residence, or can direct me to the source of the image.
I ask because I am researching the Camp family, specifically Hugh Nesbitt Camp’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Dorothea Camp, and her husband, Andrew Fletcher (of the famous W. & A. Fletcher Company of Hoboken, inventors and manufacturers of marine engines and builders of ships and yachts). In October 1918, Elizabeth Dorothea Camp was married to Andrew Fletcher at St. James Episcopal Church on Jerome Avenue and 190th Street in the Fordham section (the church has a Tiffany window given in memory of Hugh N. Camp) and the wedding reception was held at “Fairlawn,” the former Hugh N. Camp residence at Morris Heights (the one in the photo) which was then owned by Hugh’s son (Dorothea’s father), John McKesson Camp. Per the wedding announcements, it seems the wedding reception might very well have been the last family social event to be held at “Fairlawn,” because as of November 1, 1918, the place was to be taken over by the Knights of Columbus as a convalescent home for soldiers returning from World War I. Today, part of the former “Fairlawn” estate property is occupied by the Cedar Playground. Earlier (ca. 1884), another part of the Camp estate had been acquired by the Croton Aqueduct Commission.
I hope you can help me out with this.
W. Barry Thomson
The source is named in the first part of the story and can be found here: Great North Side. The quality of the photographs is not great, even in the original book.
Since you are researching the Camp’s you are probably aware of a 1969 small self-published booklet by Gregory Camp, that is somewhat scarce called Boyhood In The Bronx. One copy is for sale at $39 currently.
It took a number of years to find a copy myself. Interesting reading and it should have been longer.
My grandfather and great-grandfather had a farm in the Bronx and the address in 1918 for it was Pelham Parkway and Williamsbridge Road. Any idea or any pictures of that?
Sorry. No photographs. But you can see the detailed land maps from around that time. The NYPL has these online. They are cumbersome to navigate. Don’t click back yo go back to what you were viewing scroll down and git view subcollections and the previous view will be the last listed. Click on Zoom and then check off scrollwheel view at the top of the page so you can zoom in more easily on details.
The 1908 Sanborn Insurance Atlas Map B of the Bronx may show the land the farm was on, although you do not specify on which side of Pelham Parkway or Williamsbridge Rd the farm was located.
Look at Plate 2 or 34 on the key map below:
Then this is plate 2
This is plate 34
As you can see streets had been plotted completely on 34 and not plotted on plate 2 while few structures are on either site. It is more likely the farm was on plate 2.
If the farm was on the other side of Pelham Parkway you would look in Sanborn Atlas A. I did not provide links as I think that was probably not the location based on the confluence of Williamsnridge and Pelham.
The 1913 Bromley Atlas of the Bronx Vol. 3 shows these views:
But just so you can view it I’ve attached one plate of what the opposite side of Pelham Parkway and Williamsbridge Rd. looked like (see bottom of map). Though there may have been a farm here I think it is more likely to be located on the other side of the road as shown in the maps above.
I had a friend who was such a snob, he couldn’t even say “The Bronx.” He wasn’t kidding either.