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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tremont Park

My four-park excursion to The Bronx concluded with a traipse through Tremont Park, for whose separate existence we have Robert Moses to thank. His Cross-Bronx Expressway amputated this erstwhile section of Crotona Park in 1945. It received a name of its own, Highland Park, in 1987, and 12 years later was renamed for the Tremont neighborhood in which it resides.

According to Wikipedia, "Tremont has been one of the poorest communities in America" for decades. It's not poor in spirit. The parts of New York City I generally frequent are not "Say hi to strangers" neighborhoods. Strangers don't greet each other as they pass. By contrast, here in this part of the Bronx, two different people said friendly hellos to me as I walked by. I felt like I was someplace slower and more genteel, someplace down South maybe. (And with my white skin and peculiar interest in photographing everyday city parks, I was about as obvious a stranger as could be.)

Both names, Highland and Tremont, suggest elevation. (Tremont is said to have been named name after the "three hills" nearby, Fairmount, Mount Eden, and Mount Hope. Boston's Tremont Street got its name similarly.) And Tremont Park does have heights, although upon entry at the southern end it looks flat and unremarkable.

Angle up toward the north and west and some of that sublime New York City backbone rears up.

Then you come upon walls suggesting a medieval castle.

Another former name for this tract is Old Borough Hall Park. It's the location of the original Bronx Borough Hall, pictured in the inset photo to the right, an image that does make one wish this building was still here, doesn't it? Sadly it was torn down in 1969.

I don't know if those "castle" walls pictured above are related to the old Borough Hall, or intended to suggest that a government palace used to be here. But the grand staircase survives. You can see it in the inset photo (which I found at this online postcard collection), and here it is today:

Atop the stairs, a wide flat sculpted area bears witness to the former presence of the big hall.

A view from a distance:

And one down to the street, showing the elevation.

I'll leave you, and leave the Bronx for now, with a late-winter tree-scape atop a hill at the western edge of Tremont Park.