It was an exciting day — The Bronx Jewish Historical Initiative’s tour of the Jewish Grand Concourse featured narration by co-leaders author Avery Corman (The Old Neighborhood) and Bronx Historian Lloyd Ultan. The mix of nostalgia and joy at “coming home” were palpable.
Made possible with the support of the Office of the Borough President and the Bronx Economic Development Corp., the tour began on the Bronx Trolley from the Courthouse on the lower Concourse, and proceeded northbound up the wide boulevard past former synagogues such as Temple Israel, past the “fish” building (with its art deco mosaic facade), stopped at the Fordham Road intersection to discuss the Army Recruiting Station and Concourse life during World War II. Then on past Poe Cottage to a turn-around at the Shrine of the Virgin, where a sidewalk discussion about the ethnic groups prominent in the 1940s, 50s and 60s included pointing out the apartment building where Rob Reiner and his family lived, across the street from the Marshall family (Gary and Penny among them).
Then onward south, to the Loew’s Paradise theater. Our good fortune — the church that now owns the building was gracious and allowed our group of 30 to enter and tour the iconic theater, the site of many of the groups’ first dates and school graduations.
Continuing on past Temple Adath Israel and back to the art deco glory of the southern Grand Concourse, listening to reminiscences and historic tidbits from our esteemed narrators.
Not sure that we would fill our first tour, the BxJHI learned quickly that there is tremendous interest in coming back to the Jewish Bronx. Participants included those who had migrated up to the splendor of the Concourse from the Lower East Side in the early years, to those now in their 50s and 60s who had grown up there as children. The tour quickly sold out and a waiting list of more than 70 awaits future tours, which we plan to start again this fall.
To be added to the list (two seats per person only please), email firstname.lastname@example.org.