NY Post Says The Grand Concourse is Required Reading

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 Posted by
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From Sunday’s “Required Reading” Column:

Boulevard of Dreams
by Constance Rosenblum (NYU Press)

Once one of the most magnificent roadways in New York City, what started out as the Grand Boulevard and Concourse in the early 1890s, was designed by French-born civil engineer Louis Risse. Risse, writes longtime journalist Rosenblum, saw it as “a thoroughfare that would shuttle the fashionable world of Manhattan to the rural expanses of the Bronx.” She takes us through the different generations of immigrants who made Concourse neighborhoods their home, looking at the big picture and the changing details of people’s daily lives.

The Bronx, Art Deco, and Neuroscience

Thursday, July 16, 2009 Posted by
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By Constance Rosenblum

The other day I visited the Art Deco apartment of José Diaz-Oyola, a nursing supervisor who lives on the Grand Concourse overlooking Joyce Kilmer Park. I made the visit so I could write about Mr. Diaz-Oyola for the Habitats column of The New York Times. The article will be published in the Real Estate section on Sunday, July 19.

The apartment had all the amenities associated with these buildings — the sunken living room, the wraparound windows — but what particularly impressed me was the sense of flow from one room to another and how open the space seemed to feel. It was a far cry from the claustrophobic railroad flats of old, with their tiny rooms branching off from a single narrow hallway. These mid-century architects clearly knew a thing or two about the design of interior spaces. Even though Mr. Diaz-Oyola’s apartment was not vast in terms of square feet, it felt awfully livable.

I was thinking about the issue a few days later when I read a review in The Times of a book called You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall by a Canadian behavioral neuroscientist named Colin Ellard. When I was writing Boulevard of Dreams, my history of the Grand Concourse to be published by NYU Press next month, I spent a lot of time pondering what made the buildings of the Grand Concourse so appealing. And so I was particularly struck by what Ellard had to say about housing design.
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Publishers Weekly Review

Monday, June 22, 2009 Posted by
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Boulevard of Dreams was reviewed in the June 22 issue of Publishers Weekly. Here’s the full review:

The Bronx’s Grand Concourse, with its Art Deco structures, is one of New York City’s architectural delights, and its political and social history is the worthy subject of this new book by New York Times staffer Rosenblum, who edited the paper’s now-defunct City section and now writes a column for its Sunday real estate section. Stretching over four-and-a-half miles, the thoroughfare designed by Louis Aloys Risse, an Alsatian immigrant, and modeled after Paris’s Champs Elysées—was completed in 1909 and saw the arrival of upwardly mobile Jews in the first five decades of the 20th century, followed by waves of Irish and Italian immigrants seeking to pursue their culture and careers in a safe environment. While Rosenblum explores various aspects of Jewish communal life near the boulevard, she also dissects the rivalry between West Bronx affluence and the working-class East Bronx, and the racial tensions that led to white suburban flight and the decline and neglect of the area. The author also draws attention to the many noteworthy characters who lived on or near the Concourse such as Edgar Allan Poe and fallen NBA star Jacob Louis Molinas. A seminal recounting of the rise, fall and current revival of a major landmark, this book, with many archival photos and drawings, is a must for those interested in the cultural history of the Bronx and New York City. 43 illus., 1 map. (Aug.)

September 15-Meet the Author @ Tenement Talks, NYC

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 Posted by
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Constance Rosenblum will be speaking in the prestigious Tenement Talks series at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Afterwards she’ll be taking questions and signing books.

September 15
Tenement Museum Book Store
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
108 Orchard St, New York
(212) 982-8420
More Info

Podcast at the Boulevard

Friday, April 10, 2009 Posted by

In this public radio broadcast, Brian Lehrer discusses 100 years of Grand Concourse history.. Listen to the podcast here. It’s a great introduction to the heart of the Bronx.