What was here before?
This site and surrounding area had about 54 apartment buildings that were demolished to make room for the Cross Bronx Expressway (completed in 1963) at the behest of Arterial Coordinator, Robert Moses (1888-1981). Over 1,000 families were displaced, costing millions of dollars in compensation. This also led to a lot of households leaving on their own accord thus changing the landscape of East Tremont.
How did this site become a park?
Morris Mesa is one of 44 park parcels that NYC Parks acquired in conjunction with the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway. The six-lane expressway cuts through rail, sewer, and utility lines, 113 roads, a subway line, and seven highways. Acquiring properties along the route of the highway added to the cost of the project making creative solutions, such as moving the Bronx River 500 feet, an economical alternative.
Who is this park named for?
Morris Mesa and the adjacent avenue both honor the prominent Morris family of the Bronx. In 1670, brothers Richard (c.1616-1669) and Lewis Morris (c.1601-1691) bought property in the Bronx. Today, the Bronx neighborhoods Morrisania and Morris Heights honor this family. Mesa, meaning a raised and flat section of land, describes the geography of the park.