WSJ: grand concourse tries to mix new and old

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an article on the Grand Concourse that I think’s worth a read.

Some excerpts:

The Bronx’s Grand Concourse is known for its stately apartment buildings dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, and city officials are seeking to preserve the artery’s historic flavor as well as implementing upgrades to the roadway.

(Emphasis mine.)

Nice to see the historic Grand Concourse getting more love – but will the upgrades be enough?

Preservationists have been concerned, of late, with the fate of the Bronx General Post Office, which sits on the Grand Concourse a few blocks south of the historic district. In January the U.S. Postal Service announced its intention to sell the building.

The Depression-era facility was designated a city landmark in 1976 and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. But the building interior—which has 13 large murals painted by Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson Shahn in the late 1930s—doesn’t have landmark protection, a concern to some politicians, artists and preservation groups if the facility is sold.

***

The city Landmarks Preservation Commission was receptive to calls for the interior’s preservation and voted last month to schedule a public hearing on the landmark proposal. The hearing will likely be held on Oct. 29, according to a spokeswoman for the commission.

(Emphasis mine.)

A public hearing? I thought it was a done deal; if not, they better make it a done deal. If this NY Times article is any indication, the set of murals – called Resources of America – should receive landmark status by year’s end.

Meanwhile, the city is poised to implement a second phase of upgrades for the Grand Concourse. A restoration project involving the widening of street medians and upgrades to lighting and landscaping between East 161st and 167th streets was completed in 2008 and is scheduled to be extended between East 167th and 172nd streets next year, according to Jose Rodriguez, the district manager for the local community board.

“We are sad the entire Concourse isn’t being done,” said Mr. Rodriguez.

(Emphasis mine.)

I share your sentiments, Mr. Rodriguez. Though I’m glad the city’s extending the Grand Concourse lighting/beautification project to 172nd Street, it’s not enough. The entire Grand Boulevard and Concourse – from Mosholu Parkway to Mott Haven – should receive these upgrades! (Lest we forget, the IND Concourse subway line also needs upgrades – rehabilitated stations, service increases, digital/countdown clocks, PA/CIS, Wi-Fi, etc. are all needed!)

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