Alexander’s Alley, located on 140th Street and Alexander Avenue in the Bronx, is named for a family of Mott Haven landowners and developers, Robert, Ellen, and their son Edwin Alexander. Very little is known about the family.
The Bronx gets its name from a Swedish sea captain named Jonas Bronck. In 1639, Bronck sailed for New Amsterdam and settled in the area which now bears his name. The captain purchased approximately 500 acres of land from the Dutch West India Company, and traded tools, clothes and utensils with local Native Americans for additional property. He built a stone home in what is now Morrisania, and owned one of the largest collections of books in the colony. Bronck's estate also hosted a peace conference with the Weckquasgeck Indians in 1642.
Born in 1798, Jordan L. Mott was largely responsible for the economic and residential development of this area. Inventor of the coal-burning stove, cupola furnace, and various modern kitchen and bathroom fixtures, Mott purchased the land west of Third Avenue in 1841. Establishing an ironworks where present day Third Avenue meets the East River, he developed the remaining land into a small suburban neighborhood, called Mott Haven, for local industrial workers and their families. Encouraging additional commercial growth, Mott also built a nearby canal and successfully advocated the extension of the Harlem River Railroad (later known as Metro-North’s Harlem Line) through Mott Haven. Within a short time, Mott Haven developed into a significant Bronx residential and industrial area renowned for its booming manufacturing industry.
Today the Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven is bounded on the north by East 149th Street and St. Mary’s Park, on the east by an extension of East 149th Street and the East River, and on the south and west by the Harlem River.
Parks acquired this small plot of land in 1937. The park opened a year later, with the name Mott Haven Health Center Playground. Mayor John V. Lindsay (1921-2000) approved plans for the reconstruction of the park in 1963, and the park reopened in December of 1964 as a sitting area.
This park offers a serene, secluded setting for the public with green benches, checker tables, and small gardens.