Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bronx Week’s historic tour

As he drives along the Bronx’s grand thoroughfares, the borough’s official historian sees the buildings and roads around him through a different lens than most.

Nondescript buildings bordering either side of the Mosholu Parkway appear to be just that to most people. But during yesterday’s Bronx Week Historic Trolley Tour, Mr. Ultan showed Boogie Downers that practically ever corner is rich with stories.

Those buildings overlooking the Mosholu were the childhood homes of fashion barons Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.

Over in the South Bronx’s antique district is the oldest post office in the Bronx, and it looks just like it did the day its construction — financed by the Carnegies — was completed.

As he rides along the Caribbean grocery and auto-shop Mecca that is Boston Road, Mr. Ultan is reminded of a famous traveler who once came to halt while traveling along the same path on his way to Philadelphia from New England.

Founding father John Adams decided to give his trip a breather after he received news that an epidemic of Yellow Fever was striking out Phillies left and right.

“He came down with a case of the smarts,” Mr. Ultan said of the future-Presidents’ decision.
Mr. Adams chilled in the Bronx for a couple of months while waiting for the City of Brotherly Love to recover.

--Graham Kates

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