Stretching over four miles through the center of the West Bronx, the Grand Boulevard and Concourse, known simply as the Grand Concourse, has gracefully served as silent witness to the changing face of the Bronx, and New York City, for a century. Now, to coincide with the boulevards 2009 centennial, a New York Times editor brings to life the street in all its raucous glory.
Designed by a French engineer in the late nineteenth century to echo the elegance and grandeur of the Champs-Elys&eeacute;es in Paris, the Grand Concourse was nearly twenty years in the making. Over the ensuing century it has truly been a boulevard of dreams for various upwardly mobile immigrant and ethnic groups, yet it has also seen the darker side of the American dream.
Constance Rosenblum unearths the colorful history of this grand street and its interlinked neighborhoods. With a seasoned journalists eye for detail, she paints an evocative portrait of the Grand Concourse through compelling life stories and historical vignettes as she follows successive waves of Jews, Irish, Italians, African Americans, and Latinos who called the neighborhood home. The book recounts the experiences of the Lower East Side immigrants for whom an address on the Grand Concourse represented the embodiment of the American Dream, and it traces the way that dream was transformed over the years. The story of the creation and evolution of the Grand Concourse is the story of New York-and America-writ large, and Rosenblum examines the Grand Concourse from its earliest days to the blighted 1960s and 1970s right up to the current period of renewal. Beautifully illustrated with a treasure trove of historical photographs, the vividworld of the Grand Concourse comes alive-from Yankee Stadium to the unparalleled collection of Art Deco apartments to the palatial Loews Paradise movie theater.
An enthralling story of the creation of an iconic street, an examination of the forces that transformed it, and a moving portrait of those who called it home, Boulevard of Dreams is a must read for anyone interested in the rich history of New York and the twentieth-century American city.