Bedford Park, The Bronx (History)

(Neighborhoods In The Bronx)

neighborhoods_bronx_bedford_park_300x300Bedford Park is a working class residential neighborhood in the northwest Bronx between the New York Botanical Garden and Lehman College. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Mosholu Parkway to the north, Webster Avenue to the east, East 198th Street to the south, and Jerome Avenue to the west. The Grand Concourse is the primary thoroughfare through Bedford Park. The local subway is the IND Concourse Line, operating along the Grand Concourse. Zip codes include 10458 and 10468. The area is patrolled by the 52nd Precinct located at 3016 Webster Ave in the Norwood section of the Bronx.

The area now known as Bedford Park was mostly farmland outside the town of Kingsbridge, then an unincorporated suburb of New York City. The area began to be developed with the construction of the Jerome Park Racecourse, for thoroughbred horse racing, by Leonard Jerome and August Belmont, Sr. in 1866. Jerome Park Racecourse became the first home of the famous Belmont Stakes horse race, until 1890. To attract the wealthy to the racecourse, Leonard Jerome built what is today Jerome Avenue. In 1874 the town of Kingsbridge was officially incorporated into New York City.

In 1890 Jerome Park Racecourse was sold. Construction was started to convert it into the Jerome Park Reservoir, to store fresh water from the New Croton Aqueduct. At the same time, the neighborhood of Bedford Park was beginning to take shape. Forty “villas” (suburban houses) were built on a 23-acre (93,000 m2) stretch, in a planned community, named Villa Avenue.

The area became a part of the newly created Borough of the Bronx in 1898. The Italian and Irish immigrants who worked on the Jerome Park Reservoir project soon anchored the community there. In 1906, 200th Street was renamed Bedford Park Boulevard, likely named after Edward Thomas Bedford, a director of Standard Oil, president of the Bank of the State of New York, who was an associate of Leonard Jerome.

Development continued with the completion of the Grand Concourse, a multilane thoroughfare, in 1914; and the extension of subway to the area with the IRT Jerome Avenue Line in 1917. The Grand Concourse saw a boom in housing construction in the post-World War I era. Much of this was from middle-class (primarily Jews, Italians, and Irish) moving from Manhattan.

In the United States 2000 Census of 2000, the area of Bedford Park comprises five tracts. These five tracts have a population of 24,874.

The racial makeup of the neighborhood is 60.67% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race, 13.5%, African American, 17.07% White, and 8.76% from other races including Korean, and Indian.

Kingsbridge has a population of over 10,000. The neighborhood has a high concentration of Dominicans living in the tenements along Broadway and the adjacent side streets, with a predominantly mixed ethnic area east and west of Broadway.