The Daily Plant : Wednesday, April 16, 2003
SPOTLIGHT ON: TREMONT PARK
Tremont Park is named for the neighborhood in which it resides. This area was known as Upper Morrisania until the 1850s, when local postmaster Hiram Tarbox realized his mail was getting mixed up with that of nearby Morrisania. Legend has it that he renamed the town "Tremont" for the three nearby hills—Fairmount, Mount Eden and Mount Hope.
The park was once named Old Borough Hall Park because Borough Hall stood on this property. George B. Post (1837-1913) designed Bronx Borough Hall with yellow brick and brown terra-cotta trim. Post’s most famous accomplishments include the New York Stock Exchange and the now demolished Western Union Building, which stood at Broadway and Dey Street in Manhattan. Bronx Borough Hall was completed in 1897, and Louis F. Haffen, the first Bronx Borough President, was inaugurated in a second floor office in 1898. (A park named for Haffen is located on the blocks between Burke, Ely, Hammersley, and Gunther Avenues.) In 1899, a grand stairway was constructed along the steep slope down to Third Avenue, connecting Borough Hall to the bustling Bronx.
After World War I, Victory Park, a formal garden with paths radiating from a large circular fountain, was created near Borough Hall to celebrate the Allied victory over Germany. Borough Hall served as the borough’s administrative headquarters until a new Bronx administration building was constructed along the Grand Concourse near Yankee Stadium in 1935. Government services gradually left the old Borough Hall, and by 1964, the only office left in the building was a marriage license bureau. Despite efforts by the Bronx County Historical Society and others to renovate the hall for civic use, the building was deemed structurally unsafe and demolished on January 12, 1969.
Bounded by Third, East Tremont, and Arthur Avenues, and the Cross-Bronx Expressway, was once part of nearby Crotona Park, the largest park in the South Bronx and the sixth largest in the borough. The City of New York acquired the property for Crotona Park from the Andrew Bathgate estate as part of the consolidation of the Bronx park system in 1888. Known at the time as "Bathgate Woods," the park was already famous for its views, its trees, and its pond. Although the city planned to name the park for the Bathgates, a dispute with the family led a Parks engineer to name it after Croton, an ancient Greek colony famed for its Olympic athletes.
Crotona Park once encompassed 155 acres (today it covers 127.5 acres), including this site and Victory Park. In 1945, the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway separated this 15 acre site from Crotona Park and swallowed up several acres for the highway project. This section continued to be called Crotona Park from 1945 until 1987, when Parks named it Highland Park. In February 1999 Commissioner Stern renamed it Tremont Park.
The Park underwent extensive renovations in 1995 made possible by $585,000 in funding from Council Member Jose Rivera. These renovations included the addition of new chess and checkers game tables, spray showers, basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and many trees. Parks is currently working on a restoration of the deteriorated grand stairway.
EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA IS COMING THIS SATURDAY
This Saturday, April 19, the lower 40 acres of Manhattan’s Central Park will be filled with excited New Yorkers for the annual rite of spring Easter Eggstravaganza. It is the 57th annual Easter Eggstravaganza and is sponsored by Starburst Jelly Beans. The event, running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is free and open to the public. It features the City’s largest egg hunt at Bethesda Terrace, egg dyeing, and egg-on-spoon races. There will be a petting zoo, a greenmarket, and in-line skating. Live bands and a cappella groups will entertain at the Naumberg Bandshall. For children, there will be a storytelling and walkabouts characters. For some creative fun, there will be a build-you-own-basket station, tissue paper flower making, and face painting. New Yorkers can enter the park at 72nd Street to enjoy this great free event. Other sponsors include Western Union, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Pay-O-Matic, Cyberchase, Discovery Kids, Columbia Pictures’ Daddy Day Care, Ty, and PAAS. For more information, please call 311.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light."
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Directions to Crotona Park
Know Before You Go
Crotona Park Nature Center
The Crotona Park Nature Center is currently closed, with no public access.
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