Mount Eden Malls

Mount Eden Malls

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This series of traffic islands on Mount Eden Parkway honors Rachel Eden, who purchased the sloping eastern part of Anderson Farm in 1820. Sections of Mount Eden Parkway were once known as Wolf Street, Jane Street, and Walnut Street.

As is the case with many parklands in New York City, the Mount Eden Malls were not always known by their current name. A World War II (1939-1945) veteran became the namesake of this parkland with the passage of a 1980 local law, calling the malls Chet Henderson Square. Henderson was active in improving the Grand Concourse Malls and other parts of the Bronx. He worked for the Departments of Sanitation, Water Resources and, as an Associate Public Relations Officer for the Department of Environmental Protection. Henderson also served as a board member on the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality. He founded and directed Operation Pride-Echo Park, and he started self-help programs for park-maintenance and worked with young community members. Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern gave this property its current name in 1987.

“Malls” were first built in Italy and France, but soon spread to England. In their early form, malls served as playing fields for a game called pall-mall. The object of the game was to use a mallet to hit a wooden ball through an iron ring located at the other end of the green. The playing fields were long, narrow strips of grass, set off between streets and similar to bowling greens. Fences around the malls protected passersby from stray balls.

Often near the city’s military quarters, malls were also used for parades. They became popular as strolling promenades, and soon malls were being built for the enjoyment of pedestrians without accommodating the sport of pall-mall. In the United States, malls diverged into two different forms: monumental pedestrian axes, and grassy or landscaped areas set between lanes of traffic. The Mall in Washington, D.C., which leads to the Capitol, is an example of the former and Mount Eden Malls of the latter. The street landscaping design slowly changed to accommodate increases in traffic, and the pedestrian paths were largely eliminated.

The word mall is now most strongly associated with a third connotation: large, enclosed shopping centers. Beginning as a hybrid between shopping arcades, which were popular in the 19th century, and the landscaped pedestrian promenades, the first enclosed shopping malls were usually oriented around a central walkway that included indoor trees, reminiscent of landscaped outdoor promenades.

Parks received this land from the City on June 17, 1926. The malls run along Mount Eden Parkway from Walton to Weeks Avenues, adjacent to Lebanon and Mount Eden Hospitals. Claremont Park is directly south of the two easternmost traffic islands.

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Directions to Mount Eden Malls

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