Bedford Park, The Bronx, New York City
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Bedford Park is a neighborhood in the borough of the Bronx in New York City bounded by Mosholu Parkway to the north, Bronx Park and Webster Avenue to the east, 194th Street and Kingsbridge Road to the south, and Goulden Avenue to the west. It borders the neighborhoods of Norwood, Fordham, and Kingsbridge.
Prior to being a residential neighborhood, 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 horserace, part of the Triple Crown of the sport, until it was moved to Morris Park in 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 the Belmont Stakes were moved out of Jerome Park Racecourse and it 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, with forty "villas" (suburban houses) were built on a 23-acre stretch, in a planned community modeled on the London "garden" neighborhood named Bedford Park. These villas became the namesake for Villa Avenue. The area became a part of the newly created Borough of the Bronx in 1898, and with the completion of Jerome Park Reservoir in 1906 became a valuable asset for the much-expanded New York City. The Italian and Irish immigrants who worked on the Jerome Park Reservoir project soon anchored the community there.
Also in 1906, Bedford Park Boulevard received its current name. It had been 200th Street since annexation, and was 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. Bedford Park Boulevard is still often referred to as 200th Street and the New York Botanical Garden is just one of the many places that have used (or continue to use) a 200th Street address since the 1906 renaming. To this day, the US Postal Address Service still recognizes (and will continue to deliver mail to) 'East 200th Street' addresses. NYC's master database has East 200th Street cross referenced with Bedford Park Boulevard[East]. This means that NYC's maps, the 911 system, and any other systems also recognize East 200th Street addresses as alternates to Bedford Park Boulevard[East] addresses. The bridge that runs over the Metro North Railroad tracks (which can be seen from the station) says '200TH ST'.
The completion of the development process, however, required the completion of two major transportation projects: the Grand Concourse, a multilane thoroughfare based on the Champs Elysees in Paris, in 1916; and the extension of subway to the area with the IRT Jerome Avenue Line in 1917. Along with the rest of the borough of the Bronx, Bedford Park saw a boom in housing construction along the Grand Concourse in the post-World War I era. Much of this was from middle-class white ethnic (primarily Jews, Italians, and Irish) emigrants moving from crowded Manhattan to settle down in the area.
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