Crotona Parkway Malls
These malls are named after Crotona Park, the largest park in the southern portion of the Bronx, and the sixth largest park in the borough. The City of New York acquired the property for Crotona Park from Andrew Bathgate as part of the consolidation of the Bronx park system in 1888. Even before the City acquired the land, the Bathgate family allowed the public to picnic by their lake (now called Indian Lake). The park was to be named after the Bathgates until a Parks engineer had a spat with the family and instead named it Crotona, after Croton, a Greek colony known for its athletes. The name proved prescient, as the parks’ athletic facilities have played host to many future athletes, including baseball great Hank Greenberg. Croton is also the name of the old New York City aqueduct.
The Crotona Malls were designed to follow Crotona Parkway for nine blocks between Crotona Park and Bronx Park. The parkway opened in 1910, replacing an earlier unpaved road known as Penfold Street. On the east side of the malls is Southern Boulevard, which was created as a grand thoroughfare in the 1870s and designed to extend north from East 133rd Street and Third Avenue to its terminus at the New York Botanical Garden.
In the Mall between East Tremont Avenue and East 178th Street stands a stone obelisk commemorating a tragic moment in Bronx history. On March 20, 1990, a fire broke out in the Happy Land Social Club killing 87 people. A memorial sponsored by the Bronx Borough President was erected in the mall in 1995. The rose-colored granite obelisk was designed by Steve de Noyer, Claire Dudley, and José Antonio Velásquez. Its location, opposite the site of the social club serves as a gathering space for friends and families.
In 2005, the section of Crotona Malls between Fairmount Place and East 179th Street was updated with improved drainage to collect rainwater. This drainage improvement is part of the Green Infrastructure Program, a multiagency effort that promotes the natural movement of storm water runoff from streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and rooftops and directing it to engineered naturalistic systems that typically feature soils, stones, and vegetation. This process prevents storm water runoff from entering the city’s combined sewer system.